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Washington News Council responds to SPJ criticism of virtual hearing

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on May 20, 2009 at 10:12 am with No Comments »
May 20, 2009 10:12 am

On May 8 the national ethics committee of the Society of Professional Journalists took issue with a new technique to judge media ethics – an online poll.

The poll was conducted by the Washington News Council, a self-appointed media watchdog group that receives complaints about TV, newspaper and radio news reports and sometimes hold hearings to decide whether the media acted properly.

The News Council used an online poll to determine whether KIRO TV acted ethically in reporting on Washington voting irregularities.

The Washington Secretary of State had complained to the News Council, a self-appointed watchdog group, about KIRO’s pieces on voter registration irregularities. KIRO declined to take part.

“A hearing can be worthwhile if all parties voluntarily participate and work toward a common understanding,” the SPJ said in a news release. “The committee strongly objects to having a public online vote, or virtual hearing, on journalism ethics.

"The news council is wrong to emulate the ‘American Idol’ model of voting for a ‘winner,’" said Andy Schotz, chairman of SPJ’s Ethics Committee. "Gimmickry is a major step backward if the council wants to appear professional and credible.

Here is the News Council’s detailed response to the SPJ statement.

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