Safeguarding News in the Era of Disruptive Sources

Published in Journal of Media Ethics, Vol. 2, Issue 2, April-June 2017 ABSTRACT Obligations and loyalties that develop between reporter and source both enable and enrich—and impede and corrupt—the flow of publicly significant information to wide audiences. Source relations are at the core of journalism practice, yet they are a thinly developed area of journalism ethics, […]

The media’s helping hand in enabling the Trump electoral win

Published in The San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 14, 2016 The news media have assigned themselves a generous role in getting Donald J. Trump elected, which by my count would be the third time this century that press failure produced what many people, myself included, regard as a civic calamity. This isn’t like the first time, […]

Why plagiarism matters

Published on CNN.com, July 19, 2016 I hail from the world of journalism, which has seen its fair share of plagiarism scandals in the past decade or so, starting with the Jayson Blair affair at The New York Times in 2003. But plagiarism in the news business is a different animal from what’s being alleged […]

Why the Media Have Been Greasing Trump’s Wheels

How to explain the indispensable role of the news media in lubricating the unfathomable rise of Donald Trump? It can’t be favoritism. I venture to say that a survey of U.S. journalists taken at the start of the primary season would have found support among the working press for the idea that Trump was a […]

Images of real, violent death are now routine on screens big and small, and nobody knows what they’re doing to us

I was pretty young, but I remember with fascination and horror the stills from the Zapruder film of the John Kennedy assassination. Frame by frame, Life Magazine, which in those days defined news photography, in early 1964 ran the grainy color 8mm images of the murder—Kennedy grabbing his throat as the first bullet hit him, […]

Drone war’s media profile remains low, despite Jihadi John hit, and opponents resort to an ad campaign to raise public outrage

A ghost is stalking the presidential debates, uninvited and unacknowledged. It’s the silent envoy from a murderous side of U.S. overseas operations, one that’s reviled abroad and can’t help but scar the hearts and minds of the very people our leaders consider pivotal to global success. Here I’m talking about the U.S. drone war. This […]

Suppose an inside scoop of official secrets gives some market players an unfair advantage—is that a good reason to muzzle the media?

People who are concerned about runaway secrecy and who cheer when the media break important stories in defiance of government edict may still find this particular affair worrisome. Suppose the official secrets that are illegally leaked are published in an exclusive newsletter for a narrow sliver of the public that pays a lot of money […]