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Category Archives: Be Accountable and Transparent

Updating reporting on a hit-and-run as more information is released

A video showing two apparent teenagers intentionally driving into a retired police chief riding his bicycle in Las Vegas went viral over the weekend. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s coverage of the incident was heavily criticized by readers who posted screenshots of the Review-Journal’s obituary for the officer that was published on Aug. 18 for its use of “bike crash” in the headline. Thirteen days later, a source approached the reporter with the now-viral video and the reporter connected the

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Answering audience questions with “transparency portal”

One of Norway’s leading newspapers, Verdens Gang, created a “transparency portal” last fall, which includes a list of FAQs about reporting and explains its reporting process to readers. This came after VG was engulfed in a journalism scandal regarding one of the stories it published. “Prior to the scandal, VG leadership was already discussing steps it could take to increase transparency and improve audience trust. But the botched story galvanized the newsroom to examine its standards and ways

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Using official documents during an investigation

Atomic Fallout” is a joint investigation, done by multiple newsrooms, including The Missouri Independent, MuckRock and The Associated Press, of the St. Louis region’s 75-year history with nuclear waste. The outlets reviewed thousands of documents, many of which were either recently declassified or have never been reviewed. What they found was federal agencies knew about radioactive contamination into soil, groundwater and a creek neighborhood children played in, and downplayed it, likely resulting in rare cancers, autoimmune disorders

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Taking down an article after criticism

Hours after it was published on Monday, GQ removed an article on media executive David Zaslav from its website following complaints from Warner Bros. Discovery. The story, written by freelance film critic Jason Bailey, recounted a number of moves made by Zaslav that made him “the most hated man in Hollywood.” Shortly after the story was published, the article was edited extensively and was eventually taken off the website. In a statement to Deadline, GQ said it was

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SPJ ethics leaders comment on Alito’s preemptive rebuttal

The Wall Street Journal published an essay written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, titled “ProPublica Misleads Its Readers,” on June 20. Alito’s essay has been considered an unusual step of “prebutting” a ProPublica article that hadn’t been published yet. The ProPublica article investigates Alito accepting gifts from major GOP donor Paul Singer. The preemptive rebuttal has brought into question the ethics of publishing a defense when the original article hasn’t been published yet.

In an article

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Using Instagram to display transparency in reporting

Emily Davies, crime and criminal justice reporter for The Washington Post, uses Instagram to follow people from the communities she covers in her stories. Davies used to follow people on her personal account, but she encountered the dilemma of where to draw personal boundaries. She still wanted to let people into her day-to-day life and her process as a reporter, so she created a public Instagram account, @emilydaviesreports.

SPJ’s Code of Ethics says that “ethical journalism means taking responsibility

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Ensure accuracy when reporting on COVID-19

On May 5, the World Health Organization ended the emergency status for COVID-19 and the United States COVID-19 health emergency will end on Thursday. While navigating this “post-pandemic” era, it is important to continue to take care in reporting on COVID-19. Ensure you are using clear language when explaining these updates. Ending the emergency status does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global threat. Continue to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics to seek the truth and report

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Journalism and objectivity

Newsrooms are debating whether objectivity should still be the standard for news reporting. Recently, Leonard Downie Jr. wrote an opinion piece on objectivity for The Washington Post. Downie argues that moving past objectivity can create more diversity in newsrooms. The piece has sparked a lot of responses from different news organizations, but the question remains: is objectivity outdated and what can newsrooms do about it? “True objectivity is a fallacy that overlooks more important standards, like fairness and truth,” SPJ

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The ethics of using AI

More news outlets are using artificial intelligence to write or supplement stories. Recently, Futurism reported CNET had been quietly publishing articles generated by an unspecified “AI engine” without noting they were bot-written. The news sparked outrage and discussion about the ethics and impact of using AI. “While there is no need for a ban on artificial intelligence in journalism, its use is best limited and considered on a case-by-case basis,” said SPJ National President Claire Regan. “AI, for example,

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Covering homelessness during a cold snap

During the major cold snap that engulfed most of the country during the holiday season, Bryce Dole, a reporter for the Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, was covering how it impacted a homeless encampment, when he and photographer Dean Guernsey met Shellie Macvane and were concerned about her wellbeing. “It didn’t take a doctor to discern that Macvane was in bad shape,” Dole wrote. “Her tent was paper thin and she did not have the proper clothes for the frigid

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Correcting inaccuracies from an anonymous source

A report from the Associated Press, citing an anonymous senior U.S. intelligence official, raised international alarms last week. It incorrectly stated that a missile from Russia meant for Ukraine hit a town in Poland, however the missile was from Ukraine. The AP was the first outlet outside of Poland to report on the strike. The SPJ Code of Ethics states that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy. The AP issued a correction within the day. The Code says, journalists

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