Ginsburg and ethics

There’s ethics, and then there’s ethics. Ethics of the first order – legitimate ethics – have a solid philosophical basis. Ethics of the second order often have little to do with ethics, but instead are client and/or financially driven. True ethics often center on Immanual Kant’s “categorical imperative,” or duty, to be true to one’s…

A call for responsible reporting of irresponsible speech

For generations, American journalists have been fooling themselves – and their audience. Unwittingly perhaps, but still fooling themselves. On the one hand reporters – whether print, broadcast, cable, or social media – have trumpeted their U.S. Constitutional, First Amendment “right” to have the personal, individual freedom to report on and publish virtually any and every…

Is environmental reporting improving?

Are the media doing a good job of covering the environment? Answering this question is not as easy as it might seem.  Following Earth Day in 1970 the media ratcheted up their environmental coverage. But many legacy media today, nearly a half-century later, no longer have environmental reporters, or if they do, such journalists often…

Ferguson – An Arab Spring moment

The Ferguson story was an Arab Spring moment when social media inspired social change. It rejuvenated the civil rights movement and started a new national conversation about race and policing. In remarks to the Ethical Society in St. Louis on Oct. 25, GJR publisher William H. Freivogel looked back at the impact of social media…

Scandals will fade but lobbying still drives the Missouri legislature

By ROY MALONE / A series of sex scandals that revealed tawdry affairs among top officials in Missouri’s state capital made for titillating reading this summer and stirred up a controversy about journalistic ethics. Sex scandals in Jefferson City are nothing new, say veteran statehouse reporters. Bad behavior by lawmakers and lobbyists has plagued the legislature for a century. What is new is the social media technology that ensnares straying legislators and the willingness of the press to name names. The decision by the Post-Dispatch’s veteran and highly regarded statehouse reporter, Virginia Young, to name a female aide of the governor’s who was involved in a night of hard drinking, attracted national comment and criticism.

One year later: Media ignore their Ferguson failures

By WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The Justice Department’s twin reports on Ferguson this March raised two disturbing questions about the media: How did so many news organizations fail for so long to realize that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a myth? How did so many news organizations fail for so many years to uncover deeply unconstitutional police and court practices? One would hope those questions would prompt soul-searching. For the most part, they haven’t. The national media are on to the next police shooting with no sign of introspection. False or misleading stories from last summer remain online uncorrected. Social media also barrel ahead, clinging to preconceived ideologies in a cyber-world that is often fact free.

Should this photo be published?

BY LINDANI MEMANI / When South Africa’s largest Sunday paper, the Sunday Times, on its April 19 front page published a photograph of a man in the act of being stabbed and killed, readers took to the social media and aired their views. It is common for photojournalists to be condemned for the job they do. Some in the industry are accused of taking photographs and walking away with Pulitzer prizes unconcerned about what became of the people in the images that earned them recognition. But that’s not the case in this instance. When the media cover violence by publishing a foreign national in the act of being killed, people can reflect on their ideologies, help the police with arrests and organize for social change.

St. Louis’ forgotten espionage case

By SCOTT LAMBERT / Former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, a Missourian who graduated from Millikin University and Washington University Law School, recently was sentenced to 42 months for violating multiple counts of the Espionage Act. Sterling was convicted as New York Times reporter James Risen’s source in a chapter of the book State Of War, which described a botched CIA attempt to hinder Iran’s nuclear program. For the press, the story was strictly about Risen’s battle with the government and First Amendment issues. The media never questioned Sterling’s guilt or innocence. As a group, the press stayed on the Risen as hero narrative, leaving Sterling alone.