September 26, 2005

Journalists Talk Ethics at I.C.

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On Friday, a panel discussion was held at Ithaca College concerning ethical journalism during times of war. The panel consisted of both prominent journalists and scholars, all of whom had some background in conflicts in the middle east.

The panel discussion was the final event in a day-long symposium on the issue of how the media has covered the war in Iraq.

The panel was fairly informal, and as Dean Diane Lynch, Roy H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College, stressed, it was meant to be less of a question and answer session and more of a discussion between the panelists and the audience.

“Our goal here is to build bridges of understanding,” said Prof. Yahya Kamalipour, mass communication, Purdue University. “We have different perspectives. Some of us carry heavier burdens than others … and some of us have a lighter load. We’re talking about human relations and how the media can be key players.”

During the discussion, many topics were approached ranging from the media’s role in shaping the public’s view about Islam to the ethical implications of embedded reporters to conflicts concerning the anonymity of sources.

In response to an audience member’s accusation that the Bush administration used the media to help spread the “big lie,” Jim Smith, foreign editor of the Boston Globe, said, “No one is telling me what to put in the pages of the Boston Globe, and the foreign pages of the Boston Globe, every day. … We are trying to tell both sides of the story. We are imperfect, we are flawed, but we are not in anybody’s back pocket.”

Not all audience members enjoyed the wide range of topics addressed.

“There was a lot of branching away from the questions asked.” Kim Nesta, a freshmen sociology major at Ithaca College, said. “I didn’t leave with a feeling of having the questions answered.”

However, other attendees, such as Husna Haq, a journalism and polyscience major who graduated from Syracuse University in 2005, left with much more positive views.

“I really, really enjoyed it. It was well worth the [hour and a half] drive,” Haq said. “It was a rare chance to hear panelists of this caliber.- I was very impressed.”

The event was organized by Prof. Christopher Campbell, chair of journalism, Ithaca College, and Prof. Tammy Shapiro, organizational communication, learning, and design, Ithaca College.

Shapiro was very pleased with how the panel discussion played out.

“Everyone I talked to thought that it was very worthwhile,” she said. She said she believed it was a good change for both panelists and audience members to expand their horizons.

When asked how the lecture may influence her decisions as a journalist, Haq said, “I know people will always question your work no matter how sincerely and diligently you take your work, and that’s a good thing. I [now] know not to take it personally.”

Archived article by Sara Gorecki
Sun Contributor