Election 2016: A look back, and forward

The Election of 2016 is over. President-Elect Trump is a reality – one that few in the media anticipated. It was also a monumental year in Kentucky, with Republicans claiming the state’s House of Representatives and Senate for the first time in more than a century.

What was the role of the national media in the election? Why did Kentucky’s legislature flip from Democrat to Republican? And what does the future hold for press rights and freedom of speech under President Trump?

The Society of Professional Journalists, Louisville Pro Chapter, will answer these questions and more in a panel discussion on the election on Monday, Nov. 21, at the Ekstrom Library’s Chao Auditorium at the University of Louisville beginning at 7 p.m. (DirectionsMap showing parking areas)

The panel will be moderated by Ralph Merkel, communication instructor and student media adviser, University of Louisville. Panelists will be:

The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by SPJ, Louisville Pro Chapter and the University of Louisville SPJ chapter, the University of Louisville School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication and The Louisville Cardinal, which is the student-run newspaper at the University of Louisville. For more information about the SPJ Louisville Pro chapter, visit our web site, www.spjlouisville.org.

Defending the First Amendment and promoting open government are more crucial now than ever. Join SPJ's fight for the public’s right to know — either as an SPJ Supporter or a professional, student or retired journalist.

  • Karen Eckel Bridgeman

    I’m impressed — with the “short version” being the four headings and each group’s first sentence AND with the longer version to include fuller descriptions in each category. I want to look at it more fully (off deadline), but I’m pleased with this outline of how professional journalists should do their jobs responsibly.

  • Steven A. Smith

    A good start. But I think stronger terms might substitute for terms such as “be wary,” “shun,” “avoid,” and such wishy washy language. In conflict of interest sections, can there be some reference to avoiding conflicts posed by employers who attempt to inappropriately influence coverage? Hard issue to tackle, but, from experience, an important element of conflict of interest. It seems something more is needed in the arena of social media, blogs and other variations of traditional platforms. Do the same standards for accuracy, attribution, anonymity, conflict apply to a journalist’s social media accounts as they do to the print or broadcast or more official online platforms? In accountability, I’d like to see a stronger take on transparency. I teach that transparency in all that we do is a fundamental ethical value — and interaction with viewers/readers/audience is a part of that fundamental value. Those are some very quick responses. i appreciate the chance to weigh in and may add more after a more thorough read.

  • Dave Lieber

    As a 30-year member of SPJ, good job to those who brainstormed this. Your mission obviously was to blow up the older manifesto and write something for the New Age. You certainly accomplished that! My take is that, if adopted as is, it would declare many current mainstream media practices unethical. Damn good thing.

  • Steve Buttry

    I have blogged about my dissatisfaction with these tweaks to the code: http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/spjs-ethics-code-update-proposal-just-a-few-tweaks/

  • Brandon Ballenger

    Kind of amazing to see a call to “engage and be a part of the process” after reading this.

    So a digital subcommittee was formed to represent, oh, the past two decades of journalism’s evolution — and then almost all of its recommendations were ignored?

    I’d love to hear why.

  • Steve Buttry

    I would, too, Brandon. I hope that we at least get an explanation.

  • Tootrue4you

    What about your award to Leland Yee?

  • Carla Kimbrough

    The ethics code forgot the ethical responsibility of telling the story of diversity, even when it’s unpopular. Given the changing demographics of this country, media professionals – still a largely white profession – must address diversity. By 2050, whites won’t be the majority anymore in the U.S., so it would behoove the media to address issues that affect the broader society. Look around the table of those drafting these revisions, does this committee, which is tasked with an enormous job, have any diversity? I hope so. If not, understand that diverse viewpoints make things better.

  • Jillayne Schlicke

    Instead of “should,” which allows for subjective interpretation, why not use the word “shall,” which speaks to choices and action–that’s what ethics is really all about, right?

  • Mike Brown

    I think Seeking Truth touches on this somewhat: “Seek sources whose views are seldom used. Official and unofficial sources can be equally valid.”

    I also agree with you that there is a need for telling the story of diversity. I think you support your idea with why diversity is newsworthy, as well as ethical to do so. I was hoping that the ethics code would also address/recognize citizen journalism for the same reasons.

  • Dan Gainor

    I think it’s a bad idea to remove:

    Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

  • Kathryn Foxhall

    Over the last 20 years there has been a surge in policies in agencies and
    others prohibiting staff from speaking to reporters without going through
    public affairs or press offices. This March SPJ joined others in presenting the
    latest two surveys showing that the restrictions are pervasive and journalists
    overwhelming believe they keep information from the public.

    SPJ president David Cuillier, indicating these restrictions are clearly
    getting worse, said, “We as journalists and citizens, we cannot stand for this.
    Simply, we have to push back. It’s time.”

    The profession must address questions including whether it’s ethical to
    do reporting under such intense censorship without fighting it as hard as we
    can and routinely warning the public when news is gathered under these dubious

    If we turn a blind eye to the questionable reliability of sources under
    these controls, we may not recognize when we publish information that is
    skewed, tragically limited or harmful.

    But we bear responsibility for that negligence.

    I’m sending suggested changes to the committee.

  • charper51

    I think it is a good first step, but I believe the following need more attention:
    –The use of fairly, fair and balance as standards. If you use these words, you need to define them. My definition of fair and balance may be completely different from someone else’s definition.
    –You need to define a nontraditional provider of news.
    –You need far more about transparency by reporters, editors and publications. I want to know far more about the background, biases and other information about journalists when they write a story.
    –I wish you had not removed: “Give voice to the voiceless.”

  • charper51

    I think you have a good start, but here are some thoughts:
    –Balance and fairness are used in three places. One person’s definition of these words can be completely different from another person. I think you should eliminate these words because they no longer provide value.
    –Please define nontraditional provider of news.
    –Please emphasize transparency for reporters, editors and publications. I think this area is critical. I would like to see bios, biases and other information, including links to other stories. I am tired of parsing political bias in stories from all sides.
    –I would reinsert give voice to the voiceless.

  • Guest

    Yes there are other views:

    and marketers have a symbiotic relationship – at some point, they need
    each others’ cooperation to succeed. They, along with their readers,
    listeners and viewers, are part of a communication triad that fails if
    any part of the triad is weak or out of balance.”


  • SPJ Region 5

    SPJ Code of Ethics: Chicago Report

    following suggestions and comments regarding the 2014 overhaul of the 1996 SPJ
    Ethics Code come from the April 12 SPJ Region 5 conference in Chicago.


    Questions posed of the proposed code improvements:

    1. Does this suggested revision of the code cover the essential guiding pinciples
    of our profession in concise and efficient language?

    2. Is this suggested revision of the code helpful to journalists to improve
    and maintain their professional standards?

    3. Will these proposed changes maintain and improve the public’s trust of
    journalists and their work?

    Generally, the proposed code changes are an improvement over the 1996 document, but they are still riddled with redundancies and must be further simplied and distilled. For example, the preamble could be boiled down to this: Justice and
    good government require an informed public.

    Journalists should serve the public with fair, accurate and comprehensive
    information reported with integrity. This code sets forth our Society’s
    principles and standards in the practice of professional journalism.

    One suggestion: The preamble must include as one of the code’s raison d’etres
    “to protect the public’s right to know.”

    Items of concern NOT addressed in the proposed changes:

    1. Is it ethical for reporters covering events, issues and people to – in
    print or on broadcasts – to analyze, comment and critique those events,
    issues and people and still maintain a fair and objective journalistic

    2. Is the use of music and other forms of emotional manipulation an ethical use of journalistic tools when used in video reports?

    3. Is a role for dramatic re-enactments — in essence “faked footage” — in serious journalism?

    4. What mechanism(s) exist(s) to enforce the revised code once it becomes
    adopted? Should there be an appeals process for those journalists who
    believe they are innocent of charges of ethics code breeches?

    Other suggestions and ideas

    The code should be a call for journalists everywhere to unite as a single
    community and watch each other’s backs, rather than always viewing each
    other as “the competition” and setting up barriers between

    Seasoned professionals understand the broad concepts of an ethics code, but
    student journalists need specific and concrete rules to fully understand
    what constitutes an ethical breach, e.g. Do not pick information and
    photos off the Internet and put them in your reports even in they appear
    to be public domain and real information. Verify the facts and be certain
    of copyright infringements before publication.

    Respectfully submitted,

    DANN GIRE Chicago Daily Herald

    Region 5 of SPJ

  • AndySchotz

    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment.

    I posted my thoughts on the first draft on the Region 2 blog:

    Andy Schotz
    Region 2 director, SPJ

  • lynjensen

    In the “Avoid stereotyping” part I suggest you return to the listing of protected groups (beginning with “race” and ending with “social status.”). The revision is too vague. If your intention is to expand the kinds of stereotyping that are to be avoided, then simply add, “and any other categorizations likely to result in stereotypes” or something similar.

  • Donald_W_Meyers

    I would have left “Never plagiarize.” the way it was in the code. It was eloquent and to the point. That second sentence is superfluous commentary.

  • TucsonTerpFan

    One of the possible problems with seeking diversity is somewhat revealed in your post. “Look around the table of (sic) those drafting these revisions, does the committee…have any diversity.”

    To too many “diversity” is only seen. However, at the end of your post, you’re right on target! “[D]iverse viewpoints make things better.” There’s more to diversity than people just looking different when simply seen with the naked eye.

  • Opinaripeople

    Still too PC. Is not role of journalism to report as accurately as possible without personal, political, religious, for example, agenda and to rely on editors to warn of bias that slips in or tends to warp reporting? If these basics were present in a person or organization of “good public character and commitment,” there would be many needed adjustments in ethics. In my view, ethic do not require group-think on issues of any era.


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