Five Stories that Defined Journalism Ethics in 2015
Journalism ethics is always a popular topic of discussion, and 2015 was no exception.
In the spirit of a new year and proverbial bandwagons, I decided to highlight the blog posts about the five stories that really embodied journalism ethics missteps in 2015. Since “scoring” or “ranking” ethics is impossible and irresponsible, these are in no particular order.
May this coming year bring you good luck, responsible reporting and ethical news!
- Columbia Journalism School releases report on Rolling Stone‘s campus rape story (April)
- The Adelson family buys Las Vegas Review-Journal amid a cloud of secrecy (December/ongoing)
- The Adelson family purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is Nevada’s largest newspaper, but initially refused to identify themselves. Additionally, there is a number of background controversies that likely harmed the integrity of the paper and two Connecticut papers owned by the new manager of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Without a doubt, this will be a story making more news in 2016.
- “Media-Free Zones” at the University of Missouri and beyond (November)
- This year saw the rise of an odd and troubling trend on college campuses, where students declared “media-free” zones to keep journalists away from protesters. The trend took a scary turn when faculty and staff members of the University of Missouri threatened student journalists trying to get pictures and videos of protests. Likely, we’ll hear more of this in the coming year.
- Journalists stampede through shooters’ San Bernardino apartment (December)
- Carrying microphones, lights, cameras and any other electronics capable of broadcasting, people raced through Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik’s apartment to capture any detail of the space once occupied by mass murderers. What happened, was not journalism. Instead, what happened was the type of sensationalized and voyeuristic nonsense the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics shuns.
- Gamergate (2015)
- Whether or not your eyes roll whenever you hear it mentioned, the Gamergate movement continued to pop up in discussions about journalism ethics in 2015. They dominated the Society’s Ethics Week, which led Board Member Michael Koretzky to organize AirPlay. Without a doubt, Gamergate will continue to rear its head this coming year.
Andrew M. Seaman is the chair of the Society’s ethics committee.
Tags: 2015, AirPlay, EndOfYear, ethics, GamerGate, Journalism, Journalism ethics, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Media Free Zones, Rolling Stone, San Bernardino, Sheldon Adelson, TopFive, University of Missouri
Unfettered access to those in power, a push for government transparency and a vigorous defense of the First Amendment are perhaps more important now than ever before. Join us as we fight for the public’s right to know as an SPJ Supporter. Or, if you’re a journalist, we welcome you to stand with us as a Professional, Student or Retired Member.