Ethics Blog

You know how journalists are supposed to cover the news in a fair and balanced manner? Well, they are, and they usually go about doing it in one of two ways. The first is to practice “objectivity” — the art of having no opinion. The second way, and perhaps the more popular option, is for journalists to disclose their biases and do their best to cover both sides of the story accurately.

Thanks to a great new invention called the Internet, readers, bloggers and other publications can hold newspapers to being fair and balanced. This was the case when the liberal blog ProgressNow Colorado called The Pueblo Chieftain‘s coverage of Colorado state senator Angela Giron unethical this spring.

In case you haven’t heard, Giron is a democratic legislator who represents the district Pueblo, Colo. encompasses. During the 2013 legislative period, she supported stricter gun-control laws that led some of her constituents to successfully petition for a recall election.

The executives at The Chieftain were not supporters of Giron’s work in Denver, so they too signed the recall petitions. However, the execs decided not tell their readers about their political position. To complicate things further, the newspaper’s general manager sent the senator an email asking her to rethink her position on the gun laws. That email exposed the paper’s bias and was interpreted as a threat by the senator.

What’s troubling is that blogs exposed The Pueblo Chieftain to be in a position where its coverage of Giron and the recall election were called into question. My hometown paper is certainly not the first to have online users expose potential unethical practices.

Today’s newspapers must truly be fair and balanced or not claim to be. A well-written editorial ran in The Chieftain after the scandal explaining how the executives’ political views don’t affect the newsroom. That information should have been presented as soon as the executives decided where they stood on the issue, not after being criticized.

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One comment

  1. Good post. The external application is great, and your example is well-presented. What’s thin is your personal voice. What do YOU think of the paper, as a hometown reader and a journalism student? Do you trust the coverage? Does this affect your readership? Those are the kinds of details that help readers connect to you.

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