Sunday, September 13, 2009

Foreman and the Journalism Ethics Issue

Gene Foreman, friend to copy editors everywhere, writes about journalism ethics.

Journalism's tough public-relations problem

Gene Foreman is former managing editor of The Inquirer, and author of "The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News" (Wiley-Blackwell)

When nonjournalist acquaintances learned the subject of the college textbook I've been working on the last two years, a lot of them reached for the same arcane word to express their reaction.

My textbook subject is journalism ethics.

The reaction: That's an oxymoron.

As in an absurd contradiction of terms, like jumbo shrimp or exact estimate.

Having devoted a lifetime to working in journalism, I always find it disappointing to hear the profession's moral principles dismissed so derisively. But neither is it a surprise. Widespread hostility toward the news media, which has only intensified in the last quarter-century, is regularly documented in one public-opinion survey after another.

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