Last night I had a healthy debate on Facebook with the former chair of SPJ’s Ethics Committee, as well as a couple of other SPJ members, though they may be former members, now.
It all stemmed from an article in The New York Times about NBC News’ and ESPN’s recent interview with Janay Rice, the wife of NFL player Ray Rice. (In case you missed it, there is video of Ray Rice hitting his then fiance, now wife, Janay Rice, while they were in an elevator in a hotel in Las Vegas. Ray Rice was then let go from the Baltimore Ravens, and Roger Goddell, the NFL’s commissioner, suspended Ray Rice indefinitely from the NFL. An arbitrator ruled last week that Ray Rice be reinstated to the NFL, overturning.)
Kevin Smith, the former ethics chair, posted this on Facebook, with a link to the NYT story:
This is a disturbing trend that is greatly undermining the credibility of broadcast new — buying exclusive interviews and allowing sources to audition the outlets that will interview them.
This isn’t about truth. It’s about spin and managing the message and the TV media is buying into it and putting millions in the pockets of these celebrity sources for the privilege of skewing the story.
The news has always been about competition and getting the exclusive interview, but today, network deep pockets and public relations managers are controlling news content and the public is expected to accept this as honest and fair reporting.
Ethical journalists need to rebel. Refuse to audition for a scripted interview that does nothing more than serve as a PR statement from the source. Stop paying for news. Period. How can the public place any trust in a story when they know a network paid hundred of thousands to the person for the “truth”?
The following is posted with permission from the commenters.