Case in Point

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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Don’t steal, be lazy or arrogant (column: WJI Times Observer)

WJI Times Observer
Case in Pont column

Mary Alice Shaver, president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), wrote recently of journalism ethics in her column for the AEJMC News (3/05), “We need to be rigorous about stressing character and ethics in all courses, not just the dedication ethics course.” “We need to help students in every way to develop a professional conscience.” I like that phrase “professional conscience.” Dr. Shaver’s comments are a bold statement for moral character being demonstrated in America’s newsrooms. While many of our current public gatekeepers stress our post-modern culture in which any ethical meta-narrative is dismissed as oppressive and bigoted, journalism continues to face the reality that “truth-seeking” does exist and it does matter. The fact is, current journalism is still pre-modern, because professional scribblers demand verifiable truth, regardless of tribal affiliation, upbringing, or worldview. In the teaching of journalism Shaver exhorts us to be “accurate, fair and unbiased,” and “thorough.” That is, our students are to report and write that which can be verified as consistent with the facts. Furthermore, she challenges us to urge our young scribes not to steal (“plagiarism”), be lazy (“wrong facts and lack of rigor”), or be arrogant (CBS News). Timely and yet ancient advice from America’s chief journalism educator.

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