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Restoring the Trust: One Paper’s Initiative

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington seems to be a magnet for ethical issue debates. Part of the reason is that Steve Smith, the editor and longtime public journalism advocate, runs a transparent shop and welcomes oversight and criticism. Thus he gets more oversight and more criticism. That’s the cost of transparency and also the way to ethical behavior. Recently Smith invited the Washington News Council to provide a critique of how the paper covered a real estate issue in which the paper’s family owners had a stake. The report was indeed critical. Here is a page, posted by the Spokesman-Review, that gives you more details, including responses from Smith himself and his publisher. There is more at Reclaim the Media.

You might remember that the Spokesman-Review used a forensic computer expert, posing as a teenage boy on the Internet, to verify that Spokane Mayor Jim West was trolling online for young men. I ran an interview with Steve Smith about that ethically debatable decision, and after wards thought it would make a great ethics case study. Well, the case study is finished and soon, a couple of weeks, a month? It will go live here at the PJNet.org as part of the Restoring the Trust project that was underwritten in part by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The case study is aimed for journalism classroom use. We are just about ready for a few test runs, so if anyone wants to give it a try. Let me know.


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