Journalism Ethics and College Newspapers Ethics in Communication Final Amanda Murphy
Last fall Pennsylvania State University dealt with the Sandusky scandal. But the mainstream media weren’t the only ones covering the story.
Joseph Cerrone,’14, Managing Editor of The Hawk talked about the journalism conference most of the staff attended in Chicago in early November. There they sat in on a session by Penn State’s college newspaper, The Daily Collegian and listened to them talk about when they heavily covered the Sandusky scandal last fall. “They went though the chronology and the timeline about how the Penn story broke and told us not only what they actually did but what they were thinking and that was the most interesting part because we learned what kind of thought processes they went into, what kind of ethical values and principles they applied to each case.”
The Hawk Staff who attended learned: 1. Even though The Daily Collegian had a good relationship with the university and were respected by the university doesn’t mean they always wrote good things about them.2. The fact that they covered it just continuously showed dedication and remained professional while ethical- for only the second time in the newspapers’ history they published a Sunday issue about the memorial for the victims.“This is really important for The Hawk, although we are not as big as a school and we don’t have as many breaking news stories…So we need to learn how to find these stories and how we report them in an honest and unbiased way,” continued Cerrone.
“The best example [to parallel Penn State’s story] is the recent story we did on the 8 million budget shortfall. We interviewed all the right people [and] we tried our hardest to be unbiased and just say what was the truth,” said Cerrone.
Jessica Olenik,’13, Editor in Chief of The Hawk said, “In case that there was a scandal and we were faced with the decision to bring someone’s name up, bring someone into it- ethics- it’s the campus community’s right to know where our money is going and that if somebody was involved with foul play with any of this money that they need to know where the tuition dollars are going…from an ethical standpoint dealing with economics like that and the budget of a university, I think that is a good example of ethics in journalism and a college newspaper.” What does Journalism Ethics mean for a college newspaper?
“We are in the business of truth no matter who it affects, no matter who it helps no matter who it hurts,” said Cerrone.
Erin Raftery,’15, Assistant News Editor said,“One of the questions I was asked in my interview [for News Editor last semester] was, ‘say one of our Jesuit priests was caught in child molestation, would I cover that or because it’s a university thing and a problem should I not cover that’ and the answer that I said, and I would still hold to today, is I would absolutely cover that.”
But before The Hawk can cover the big stories, they need to make sure their foundation is strong.
Raftery believes in keeping the basics like style, grammar and multiple sources from all sides. If these are kept, when a big story hits, the staff will be prepared.Further, while a newspaper, like The Hawk, will never know when a big story will break, they must retain the same level of professionalism and ethics to pursue all stores.
But college newspapers only have intangible items from which to benefit. How then, is The Hawk motivated to produce ethical material? There are two types of rewards: Tangible and Intangible. Tangible = $$$ Intangible = Experience, portfolio, publication, name recognition
“I don’t know how many interviews I’ve done but it’s been a lot and I think the coolest part of this job is telling other people’s stories where their stories otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. I truly believe everyone has a story…you have the opportunity to share that,” continued Raftery.Cat Coyle,’16, Hawk Staff, said, while it’s exciting to see your name in print for the first time,“You’re networking so much on campus so you’re learning who the important people are on campus and I feel like a lot of students here wouldn’t normally know, they don’t know who the Provost is, but I didn’t before I came here and now I know so many people that are important.”
“When you become the journalist, when you put that mask on, you’re not that person anymore, you’re not a student, you’re not a fan of the sports team, you are an observer of what’s going on. A lot of time that’s really difficult… but you have to realize it’s not your job to make those connections or keep them. If you really want to do journalism and tell the news… in an ethical way… sometimes that’s going to hurt people in the university, people who may have been trying really hard,” concluded Cerrone.
The Hawk can learn from Penn State’s coverage of a controversial issue that reverberated nationally. While a college newspaper only has access to intangible rewards for motivation to keep ethical, they firmly believe it is enough because of the invaluable experience they gain and having a purpose at the university. They can look up to Penn Sate because they covered this issue no matter how the scandal made the university look to the public. The Hawk feels the same way about stories like the 8 million dollar shortfall.
Pictures in order of appearance: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67538764@N04/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/flynnski/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/ All “The Hawk Newspaper” PDFs on the first slide and slide 6, were created by Dawn Cai (WeiyiCai), ’15, Layout Editor. These original PDFs were used to describe a specific topic with permission of The Hawk Staff.