Knowing you’re in an ethical situation (and what to do next)

Tuesday, we talked about a process for thinking through ethical situations, and I referred you to Poynter’s 10 questions to ask to make good decisions. Be reflective, not reflexive, in decision-making, involve other people with diverse points of view and don’t ever make a decision based on what other journalists are doing or have already done — and you will probably be okay.

Don’t you wish it were simpler?

Well, it’s just not, and the complexity is one of the things that I love about journalism. Embrace it, and you’re likely to feel stronger, smarter and better-prepared for whatever curve ball comes your way next.

So, here are your blog prompts for Thursday and end of the session (which is Saturday):

NUMBER ONE: We asked you to read Columbia University’s report on the Rolling Stone “Rape on Campus” debacle, and I asked you to think about confirmation bias and how this story ran off the rails.

Think about these questions before you blog:

  • What is this story about, at its core?
  • What are its strengths as a story?
  • What was your reaction to the story at a gut level, the first time you read it?

Can you think of a time in your life or your reporting that you felt confirmation bias at work?

NUMBER TWO (waaay more fun): What did you learn over the past seven weeks in the newsroom or out in the world with your notebook, your smartphone and your reporter’s “hat” on that you wish you’d known about this whole business at the beginning? What advice would you give someone starting out in this class?

And that’s it.

I’ve loved being part of your learning experience, and I’m pretty sure Scott has, too.  I hope you’ll come back for advanced reporting or some other newsroom class.


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