Recognizing and finding solutions to modern ethical issues in journalism took center stage at the 2013 Klott Symposium

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 By RAFFY ERMAC

PHOENIX- Last weekend, a group of professionals gathered at the First Amendment Forum in Downtown Phoenix’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to watch, discuss, and take part in an engaging ethics panel hosted by three nationally recognized journalists in the field of business reporting.

Barney Calame, former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, Clark Hoyt, senior adviser of Bloomberg News, and Margaret Sullivan, current public editor of The New York Times, were the keynote speakers of the panel, aptly entitled “How Public Editors Deal with Emerging Ethical Issues.” All three lead the discussion about ethics and how it relates to today’s journalism climate, where usually, an emphasis on being the first to break a story is prioritized over making sure it is completely accurate.

“Ethical decisions are seconds and minutes, not hours and days,” said Sullivan. Ethics are just as important as the timeliness of the news.

The panel met for their dialogue as a part of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ Gary Klott Memorial Ethics Symposium, an annual, two-day seminar held to help inform journalists from all over the country of the daily impact of ethics in their careers.

Sullivan also held a discussion with Tim McGuire, the Frank Russell Chair for the business of journalism at the Cronkite School, as well as former senior vice president and editor of Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.

McGuire and Sullivan’s conversation focused more on new and emerging digital/multimedia platforms, and the new ethical dilemmas modern journalists face when using these tools in their jobs.

“I think it’s just another way to communicate,” said Sullivan when asked by McGuire about Twitter, one of the more popular social media networks writers and reporters use to not only brand themselves, but to help them in their consumption of news.

“Twitter is a conversation, not rigorous reporting,” said Hoyt about the topic, and the way media has changed for news authorities.

SABEW also saw many other speakers give their thoughts and opinions on modern day journalism ethics, the likes of which included Rick Rodriguez, former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee, Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute, and former CNN anchor and current Cronkite School professor Aaron Brown, who gave a speech on the first day of the symposium the night before.

All the discussions and panels held over the weekend were a good way for attendees to memorialize and pay tribute to Klott, who was a former SABEW president and one of the greatest influences on the organization’s ethical code.

“Those who knew him in real life recall he had a strong moral compass,” said Sandy Duerr, another former SABEW president and Klott’s widow, about her husband’s fervor for ethics in business. “Gary pushed to look ahead at the future consequences of today’s actions.”

 (Raffy Ermac is a journalism major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism)

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