Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Flunks Integrity, Conflicts, and Trustworthiness”

I do want to hold the line on featuring Comments of the Day that I think exemplify awful ethical reasoning, as opposed to those that are provocative and enlightening, to a minimum. This one, however, is too rich to ignore. It is the defense of an apparent journalist for the ethics-busting behavior of the Washington Post in the recent Jose Antonio Vargas incident using a dizzying array of alibis and rationalizations, including “they’re better than most,” “people don’t care,” “you have to cheat to stay in business,” “they are better than the alternative,” and others. It also resorts to the time-honored “who are you to judge?” and “you couldn’t do a better job.”

If this is typical of how journalists view their profession’s ethical obligations—and I think it is—the comment explains a lot. You can read my lin-by-line response after the original post. Here is the Comment of the Day, by okonheim: Continue reading

The Washington Post Flunks Integrity, Conflicts, and Trustworthiness

Newspaper...Heal Thyself!

The incidents of blatantly untrustworthy conduct by supposedly prestigious news organizations have become so numerous that they are almost no longer newsworthy themselves. Journalists failing their core ethical standards when maintaining them would be inconvenient? That’s not news. That’s the status quo.

Patrick B. Pexton, the Washington Posts’s ombudsman, had to write about the strange case of Jose Antonio Vargas, the celebrated journalist, once employed by the Post, who admitted last week that he was an illegal alien.  In particular, he had to write about 1) why a Post editor, Peter Perl, continued to employ Vargas and hid his immigration status for eight years after learning that he was in the country illegally and 2) why Vargas’s 4000 word piece about his deception (and the Post’s complicity in it) was killed by another Post editor, resulting in its being picked up and published by the New York Times. So the in-house ethics watchdog wrote about it, and concluded—nothing.  Continue reading