Tag Archives: ethics

Coulson under pressure again after police interview and questions over civil service help

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal continues to make the headlines this week as former editor Andy Coulson, now director of communications for Downing Street, was questioned by police.

According to the Press Association, Downing Street confirmed that Coulson had “attended a meeting with Metropolitan Police officers voluntarily on Thursday and was interviewed as a witness”.

Yesterday the Financial Times reported that shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett is to write to the head of the civil service to “seek assurances” that no civil service time has been spent advising Coulson.

Coulson has consistently denied accusations that he was aware of phone hacking at the tabloid.

Controversy after local newspaper gives award to anti-gay letter

Encouraging debate among your readers is something every newspaper wants and the introduction of social media sharing, comment features and blogs on news sites has all added to this quest to engage readers.

But for some a letter published in the Greenwich and Lewisham editon of local title the News Shopper has gone too far. The letter from reader Mrs S Fitzsimons won the title’s Star letter of the week award and she received a prize of a Websters pen. The content of the letter was as follows:

HAVE YOUR SAY: Marriage helps to make society work

YOUR newspaper dropped in our letterbox and I was shocked by the headline Hospital On Sex Website (News Shopper, August 11).

This is meant to be a family newspaper and not some sleazy sex advertiser for the perverted.

Marriage is the thing which makes society work.

This is why we have the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph — to show us man, woman and child is what God asks us to follow.

God gave homosexuals up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions.

Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.

If we promote anything other than marriage then we shall answer on Judgment Day for it.

Please stop advertising lesbian, gay and bisexual clubs.

You are giving our young teenagers the wrong message and promoting perversity.

Just before you mention equality there is no equality today due to everything being biased towards homosexuality.

Let’s now tell the truth and stop lying to all and sundry.

Letter written by Mrs S Fitzsimons, South Park Crescent, Lewisham

What do you think? Add your comments below.

Websters has distanced itself from the letter, issuing the following statement:

It has come to our attention that the star letter featured in this weeks News Shopper (Greenwich & Lewisham edition) has caused offence to readers. Webster’s Pen Shop would like to reiterate that the views expressed in this weeks News shopper does not reflect the opinions of Webster’s Pen Shop or its staff.

Webster’s has no influence on the content that is published, and is simply a corporate sponsor.

Tweets from the @newsshopper account managed by web manager Simon Bull say that the fact that the letter won the weekly prize does not mean that the paper endorses its views.

The paper asks readers to respond to letters by commenting on the website. Bull added in his tweets:

But how far is too far when stimulating debate?

(Thanks to @darryl1974 for sharing links relating to this issue)

Ombudsman Blog: Is it right to ‘unpublish’ online content?

Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander gives a fascinating overview of the problems faced by news organisations when readers ask them to “unpublish” content online – particularly archived stories or for legal reasons. It’s from earlier this week, but well worth a read. What’s the best practice for this procedure and is the industry thinking about the issue enough?

I’m not entirely comfortable with policies that cause public information to automatically disappear from a website, even if it involves a misdemeanor. This kind of information, typically found through a Google search, may lack context. But once information is in the public domain, it should live on. It’s part of the historical record and should be accessible.

Full post on the Washington Post’s website at this link…

Ninth murdered journalist makes Honduras the most dangerous place for press

John Perry has an insightful post up on the LRB blog looking at the dangers for members of the press in Honduras following last year’s military coup. Members of Congress in the US have expressed “continuing concern regarding the grievous violations of human rights and the democratic order which commenced with the coup and continue to this day”. Nine journalists have been killed in the country so far this year.

On the night of 14 June, Luis Arturo Mondragón was sitting with his son on the pavement outside his house in the city of El Paraíso in western Honduras. He had often criticised local politicians on his weekly radio programme, the latest edition of which had just been broadcast. He had received several death threats, but disregarded them. At 10 p.m. a car drew up and the driver fired four bullets, killing him instantly. Mondragón was the ninth journalist to be murdered so far this year. Honduras is now officially the most dangerous country in the world in which to work for the press.

Full post at this link…

Twitter and breaking news – a match made in heaven, or hell?

A post by Herman Manson on Memeburn.com looks at the difficulties of juggling the need for immediacy online with well researched and accurate journalism.

People in the news business love breaking news. This is why we are arming more and more journalists with the equipment to live tweet and blog major news events. And it is entirely true that newspapers and news sites lag Twitter in breaking news. That is because it takes time to write anything longer than 140 characters, to get it fact-checked, and then, to publish/broadcast it to a wider world.

He focuses on the issue of what to do when an incorrect tweet gets blurted out into the cyberworld, and the danger of the ‘retweet’.

With Twitter able to deliver news quickly and to a potentially huge audience due to its viral nature, already-pressured newsrooms are under increasing pressure to get content out, and to get it out fast.

But few are asking what this is doing to journalistic ethics. For example, can media organisations and journalists delete inaccurate tweets that were posted without revealing they did so?

With journalists under pressure to be first online, Manson says he also worries quality journalism could be at risk, as reporters try to cut “thought-provoking voices into 140 character sound bytes, typed on the go”.

Read the full post here…

Malaysian authorities suspend opposition paper

According to a release by the Canadian Press, the Malaysian government has suspended a newspaper run by their opposition, the People’s Justice Party.

Authorities allege the Suara Keadilan, or Voice of Justice, was printing false news that incited public unrest, adding to concerns that the government is “stifling criticism”.

The paper was due to have its licence renewed last week, but this was declined by the Home Ministry after an article was published claiming the state-run land development agency was in financial trouble.

The paper’s editor reportedly plans to appeal the suspension.

We want people to think. It seems that the government wants everyone to accept everything. They don’t want alternative views … The government is under tremendous pressure right now because people demand to know the truth.

This comes after officials banned three political cartoons criticising the government last week, citing them as a security threat.

Read the full report here…

‘The state of the journalistic art’: In defence of Rolling Stone’s Gen. McChrystal reporter

The furore following Rolling Stone’s General McChrystal feature doesn’t look like calming down any time soon.

Eric Alterman, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress has put together a great post calling into question some of the criticisms of RS reporter Michael Hastings.

Reporter after reporter has complained that by accurately reporting what McChyrstal and his aides said in explicitly on-the-record conversations to a reporter with a tape recorder and/or notepad in his hand, Hastings has violated the tenets of professional journalism.

One comment he refers to was from David Brooks, opinion columnist for the New York Times, who called Hastings a product of the “culture of exposure”:

But McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter. And this reporter, being a product of the culture of exposure, made the kvetching the center of his magazine profile.

By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.

But in Alterman’s view, the feature was the epitome of quality journalism.

(…) an almost picture-perfect example of skillful interviewing, smooth narrative writing, extremely exhaustive research, and finally (and perhaps rarest) thoughtful contextualizing of extremely complicated material. I recommend it to all journalism professors as an example of the state of the journalistic art.

Read the full post here…

Cumbria local media praised for care and diligence absent from the nationals

A Cumbrian MP has praised the work of local media covering the horrific shootings in Whitehaven, according to a report by the Newspaper Society.

Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, said journalists reported with “care and diligence”.

He refers specifically to the work of the Whitehaven News, News & Star, North West Evening Mail, Border television, BBC Radio Cumbria and ‘Look North’.

Like the News & Star, the Whitehaven News understands the role that it plays in my community and how it can help the community’s healing process – not the families’ healing process, perhaps, but certainly the community’s.

The media local to the tragedy – the Whitehaven News, the News & Star, the North West Evening Mail, Border television, BBC Radio Cumbria and ‘Look North’ – reported the tragedy with a care and diligence entirely different from that of the national media.

Local newspapers have been previously recognised for networked reporting of the events.

See the full report here…

E&P: US media ‘unabashedly biased’ toward Barack Obama

Editor & Publisher have a comment piece from Congressman Lamar Smith in which he claims the US media have been exceptionally favourable toward President Obama and relatively disparaging of George Bush and the tea party movement.

The mainstream media’s treatment of President Obama provides an interesting case study. Journalists who gave to President Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign outnumbered those who contributed to Sen. McCain by 20-to-1.

And once the election was over, the slanted coverage continued. The nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs, comparing media coverage of Presidents Bush and Obama at the same point in their presidencies, found that 58 percent of all network news evaluations of Obama and his policies were favorable, while only 33 percent of assessments of Bush were favorable.

Full story at this link…