From Political Buzz:
The Society of Professional Journalists national ethics committee is calling foul on the Washington News Council for conducting an online poll on a complaint against KIRO TV.
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 participate in a hearing. So the News Council posted an online poll, which turned out lopsided against KIRO.
“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.
Now, the KIRO stories were suspect and full of factual errors, basically part of the noise machine crap about ghost voters and such. You can read all about it at the Washington News Council web site. KIRO did eventually pull the stories down, so that was good.
Still, I’m amazed that the Washington News Council, this self-appointed collection of rich people and formerly powerful traditional journalists, could make such an error in judgment by conducting an on-line kangaroo court.
Many readers likely recall that the P-I refused to appear before WNC in 2006 concerning an expose of the King County sheriff’s office, citing, among other reasons, the fact that WNC director John Hamer was married to a district director for Rep. Dave Reichert. (By way of clarification, Reichert used to be sheriff, and I have no idea what Hamer and his wife currently do, nor is that the point.) The P-I stood by its reporting in the face of the attempts by WNC to intimidate them.
The point is that the Washington News Council has little credibility, and deservedly so. But I’m not all that worked up about it, frankly, because this blog isn’t a “real” journalism outfit, and thus doesn’t fall under WNC’s self-defined jurisdiction, as far as I can tell.
And that’s just fine with me, because every time I hear the word “ethics” and “journalism” I flash on Commander Codpiece, and that’s something I really don’t like popping into my brain.
Yeah, let’s talk some more about ethics, guys. Here’s a topic: let’s say a reporter falsely accuses a candidate of lying about her education, writes a story full of half-truths and distortions spoon fed to reporters by the other side, and the candidate then loses by a cat’s whisker.
What should happen? Or more to the point, what did happen? As we all know, the answer is: nothing at all. Ethics, yeah, Uh-uh.