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2010 Olympic freebies: media MUST come clean

By  •  Ethics

As a longtime journalist, Harvey
Oberfeld
wants to see the Vancouver Olympics fairly reported and commented upon. So he needs to be assured the media are not on the take.
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Olympic cheerleading stains journalists’ credibility

By  •  Ethics

Jim Van HorneThe Winter Olympic Games are more about marketing and corporations than athletes — and journalists should not become part of all the hype and hoopla, argues Jim Van Horne.
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Horrors vs. taste: CBC producer describes the newsroom debate

Broadcasters and publishers know they can count on at least two responses to portraying graphic images of death and destruction: complaints about disgusting or invasive displays of blood and gore; and, journalists writing stories about media’s insensitivity or sensationalism.   

According to one broadcaster, the gatekeepers are constantly debating the responsibility of revealing the cruelty and anguish of the earthquake, trying to weigh the horrors versus the conventions of taste. The senior program producer for CBC TV’s The National, Michael Gruzuk, described that process in an interview with CBC Radio’s Rita Celli on Ontario Today, on Jan. 21.
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What exactly is responsible journalism?

By  •  Ethics

Question MarkWith the recent Supreme Court decision to widen the available defences to defamation actions comes added responsibilities. Journalists must now debate what constitutes responsible journalism, writes Cecil Rosner
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Exclusivity of media coverage

By  •  Ethics

Jody White’s account of being asked to leave Al Gore’s speech, to clear the field for the event’s media partner The Toronto Star, reminded me of two recent related incidents….
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Should suicide be reported?

By  •  Ethics

The Globe and Mail’s Andre Picard reports on the recent suicide of a 19-year-old law student who jumped from a high rise residence at the University of Ottawa, and asks: “Is that news? If so, how detailed should the news reports be? Will drawing attention to the tragedy be helpful or harmful?”

Whether to report a suicide is a dilemma every journalist will face, some time — not least because our usual assumptions about the benefits, rights and freedoms of information are challenged by numerous suicide experts with a barrage of advice. Canadian Psychiatric Association guidelines (pdf) for media state that
“media coverage of suicide is proven to lead to copycat suicides.” The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention warns media, “Suicide Contagion is Real.” The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has a publication for media with specific recommendations  “to discourage imitative or copycat suicides.”

Noting there were 3,743 Canadian suicides in the last year for which stats are available, Picard asks: “Should we be turning a blind eye to this carnage so as to not offend sensibilities? Or should we be shining a light on suicide deaths – most of them preventable – to highlight the underlying cause, which is often untreated mental illness?”

Picard’s answer: “The seemingly compassionate rules are a convenient excuse for avoiding discussion of (and reporting on) an issue that makes us highly uncomfortable.”

My  answer: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution on reporting suicide. Judgement is needed in every instance — and because there is rarely time for education and reflection on a news story, researching and thinking about the issue in advance is needed.

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Wente and Dowd cell phone columns: Too close to call?

By  •  Ethics

A column by The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Wente so closely resembles one written by The New York Times‘s Maureen Dowd that at least one blog is suggesting she stole it. Anne McNeilly asks whether it was just a bizarre coincidence.
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When national media descends on a small town story

Missing_StaffordWhen big, national media showed up in Woodstock, Ont. to cover the abduction of Victoria (Tori) Stafford, the story changed. There was a desire among local journos, writes Bruce Urquhart, from the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, not to be scooped by out-of-town reporters that, unfortunately, pushed them toward pack journalism.
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CBC reporter reassigned after Tories complain

By  •  Ethics

Reporter Krista Erickson acted inappropriately and with “journalistic zeal” said CBC News publisher  John Cruickshank in a letter to the Conservative Party. The party had complained of “collusion” to the CBC Ombudsman after Erickson provided questions to an MP to ask before the Ethics Committee. Erickson, said Cruickshank, has been reassigned from the Ottawa bureau to Toronto.
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