The editors of Wisconsin’s two largest newspapers, a leading political reporter and a journalism ethics specialist will discuss ethical questions surrounding media coverage of recall elections at a forum Wednesday, May 30, sponsored by the Madison pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
“Journalism Ethics in the Time of Recall” will feature Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor Martin Kaiser, Wisconsin State Journal editor John Smalley, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reporter Bill Lueders and Katy Culver of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It will be held in Room B1A of the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St., on the UW-Madison campus. The forum will begin at 7 pm and conclude at 8:30 pm.
The discussion will come less than one week before Wisconsin voters go to the polls in a historic gubernatorial recall election. It concerns the public debate over whether journalists should be able to sign petitions to recall the governor or other public officials. Reverberations over the debate continue as young journalists seek jobs and internships and news organizations determine whether certain sources can be used in stories.
The panel will explore the following questions, among others:
* Should journalists sign recall petitions?
* Should students who have signed recall petitions be denied internships or employment with news organizations? Should signers be prevented from doing certain work at news organizations?
* Is signing a recall petition the same as voting? Is it the same as making a political contribution, placing a sign in your yard, signing a petition on a public policy issue?
* Should journalists refrain from public political acts?
* What are journalism professors teaching students about this ethics debate and the general issue of taking a public position on a public policy or political matter?
* Should expert sources who signed the recall be used in news stories, and if so should their position on the recall be identified?
The event is free and open to the public. Journalists especially are encouraged to attend.
For more information, contact Mark Pitsch, Madison pro chapter president, 608-252-6145.