Ethics in Exile

Silly Prince George Citizen, holding a staff writer  to account for generously liberating other writers’ work:

To our shock and dismay, multiple incidents of plagiarism were uncovered from work over the last number of months. The staff member plagiarized various online new publications, while writing opinion pieces that appeared in this space. Entire paragraphs were copied and then blended into articles, removing a word here and there, or adding a clause to link certain phrases, but leaving the words of the original writer all or mostly intact, without attribution to the original writer or publication.

As of Tuesday morning, that news staff member is no longer employed at this newspaper.

As Sixth Estate modestly notes:

I can think of a much more important paper than the Citizen which showed us that when a minor charge like serial plagiarism comes along, there’s certainly no need to fire anyone as long as the writer in question says it was inadvertent and is willing to print a vaguely worded apology.

Not to name any names or anything.

Margaret Wemte

Cough.

Johann Hari Vs. Johann Hari On The Ethics Of Making Sh!t Up

by matttbastard

Johann Hari, September 2011:

“If I had asked the many experienced colleagues I have here at The Independent… they would have explained just how wrong I was. It was arrogant and stupid of me not to ask.”

Indeed it was — or was it…?

Johann Hari, June 2011:

“I called round…other interviewers for British newspapers and they said what I did was normal practice and they had done it themselves.”

Either way, at the end of the day the purple-prosed, narcissistic little shit-stain gets to keep his plum position as UK journamalism’s favourite idiot-savant fabulist, despite having brazenly made shit up (including at least one viciously libellous Wikipedia sockpuppet) — and all he had to do to save his bacon was give back his undeserved Orwell Prize and pen an intellectually insulting J’accuse in lieu of a proper apology (actual sincerity would have required a modicum of shame/regret on Hari’s part — IOW, don’t hold yer breath, cupcake). 

Nice work if you can get it.

In other news, Ben DomenechJayson Blair, and Stephen Glass are reportedly emigrating to Mother London en masse, caps & (HIGHLY CREATIVE) CVs in hand (low hanging fruit, yes, but sometimes it pays to slake one’s hunger for snark with some easy pickings).

h/t The Media Blog

Bruyea, Veterans Affairs, and Canadian Democracy: Time to Go “Batsh!t Crazy”

by matttbastard

Tuesday’s  revelation that Sean Bruyea, a vocal critic of Veterans Affairs had his private medical records deliberately compromised by bureacrats in a brazen attempt to discredit his legitimate, extensive complaints about systemic deficiencies within the department has struck a nerve among Canadians across the nation. Rick Mercer’s tweet from yesterday morning succinctly sums up the outrage:

“Bat-shit crazy”? Canadians should be spitting mad — and appropriately chastened by the sobering realization that what happened to Bruyea could happen to any one of us. Add the steamrolling of civil liberties that occurred during the G20 summit in Toronto, and you have a Canadian government that, for all intents and purposes, is acting as if the citizenry represent a hostile entity, simply for the crime of expressing dissent.

In short, once again it seems all too apparent our elected representatives no longer believe that they should answer to the people.

In this specific instance, the naked disregard for personal privacy is unconscionable. The Privacy Commissioner should immediately investigate, and heads must roll, no matter how high up the food chain. But, in broader context, we see yet another example of the contemptuous culture of impunity among the political class that currently reigns supreme in Ottawa, perfectly encapsulated by the arbitrary way the PMO keeps the civil service under heel, and the disrespectful manner in which our Members of Parliament conduct themselves during Question Period.

Hard to defend the virtues of Canadian parliamentary democracy when our leaders act as if they are completely entitled to run roughshod over the people they deign to serve.

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Obligatory WFT McChrystal?! Post

by matttbastard

Cole drops an Apocalypse Now reference, while The Artist Formerly Known as Tacitus thinks shitcanning is imperative if the republic is to survive the impact of McChrystal’s insta-infamous still-unpublished Rolling Stone interview [h/t Ben Smith].

Perhaps.

Laura Rozen usually has sound instincts and excellent sources:

One early thought: does [McChrystal] want to get fired for insubordination before his strategy is shown to fail?

But I also think Ed Morrissey might be illustrating ye olde canard about stopped clocks with this apt (if cynical) observation:

 [T]o paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, Obama may prefer to keep McChrystal in the tent even if he’s pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing into it.  Once relieved of his command, McChrystal may have a lot more to say about the Obama administration than what will appear in Rolling Stone this month.

The good general is now walking backwards at quite the furious pace for someone supposedly trying to commit career seppuko. Plus, as Spackerman notes, thanks to the swift and overwhelmingly negative fallout from his comments, the White House may believe that “a chastened McChrystal isn’t going to say anything else outside of his lane to any reporter.”  We’ll have to see if the groveling, coupled with pragmatic political considerations, gives McChrystal a last-minute reprieve as he walks the Green Mile.

Last word, via the 140:

McChrystal oversaw prisoner abuse and Pat Tillman cover-up, but let’s get mad at him for a rude interview. [links added]

Touche.

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Unintended Consequences, Redux

by matttbastard

(Photo: Paul Keller, Flickr)

Jane Mayer on the sudden prominence of ex-W speechwriter (and current Hiatt-approved pro-torture propagandist*) Marc Thiessen and why those who don’t pop wood for enhanced interrogation [sic] should be wary:

The publication of “Courting Disaster” suggests that Obama’s avowed determination “to look forward, not back” has laid the recent past open to partisan reinterpretation. By holding no one accountable for past abuse, and by convening no commission on what did and didn’t protect the country, President Obama has left the telling of this dark chapter in American history to those who most want to whitewash it.

Teach the controversy, maaan. Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

*As Harry Allen would say, don’t just read Alex Pareene’s superlative Gawker piece ‘The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America‘ — memorize it.

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Canadian Libel Reform, Meet Economic Reality

by matttbastard

So, you think that recent SCOC ruling will help fight the chilling effects of Canada’s draconian libel laws? Think again, says Ryerson journ prof Jeffrey Dvorkin:

While editors are hailing the ruling as a breakthrough for more aggressive journalism, it also makes it clear that these days, news organizations may be less able than ever to deliver on these expectations.

That’s because as layoffs continue at news organizations and as newsrooms are pared down to the editorial bone, the ability of news organizations to engage in deep, contextual investigative journalism is far from what it once was, or what it should be.

News organizations almost everywhere are dropping their investigative units as too expensive, too time-consuming and far too unable to deliver the requisite audience numbers. Instead, investigative reporting is being contracted out in the U.S. and other countries to “stand-alone” not-for-profits such as ProPublica, Global Post, and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. In Canada, we don’t even have that option.

[...]

My guess is that media law departments are now advising chief editors to restrain their journalists from doing more aggressive reporting unless they can prove that every effort (including a demonstrable commitment to editorial resources) has been made to get all sides of the story. It’s that commitment to shoe-leather reporting that is among the first things to be dropped in a downsizing news organization.

Dvorkin also addresses a matter that Jeff Jedras brought up the other day, the perceived lack of “professionalism” among us foul-mouthed Cheeto-eaters, and may finally have come up with a viable solution on how to effectively net-nanny teh ornery tubes:

The ruling addresses the issue of ethics, standards and practices among bloggers – those independent reporters and opinion-mongers whose power and influence are growing just as legacy media’s reach and heft are diminishing. The ruling brings the blogosphere under the same right, responsibilities and obligations as the mainstream media.

[...]

The challenge for the online community is to create a set of ethical standards that will give bloggers the same credibility with the public as valid as those espoused by the mainstream media. In effect, bloggers need an ombudsman.

Indeed. A ‘blogbudsman’, if you will. I nominate Canadian Cynic.

What?

h/t Bill Doskoch

Update 12/29: Via the wonders of Twitter, Jay Rosen points to a 2008 post of his regarding the seemingly endless handwringing from legacy media types re: blogger ethics:

If “ethics” are the codification in rules of the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are—which is how I think of them—then journalists have their ethics and bloggers have theirs.

  • They correct themselves early, easily and often.
  • They don’t claim neutrality but they do practice transparency.
  • They aren’t remote, they habitually converse.
  • They give you their site, but also other sites as a proper frame of reference. (As with the blogroll.)
  • When they grab on to something they don’t let go; they “track” it.

In all these ways, good bloggers build up trust with a base of users online. And over time, the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are… these become their ethic, their rules.

Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform that operated as a closed system in a one-to-many world.

That’s why I say: if bloggers had no ethics, blogging would have failed. Of course it didn’t. Now you have a clue.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Clinton Coverage & Media “Anecdrama”

by matttbastard

(photo by NYCArthur, used under a Creative Commons license)

Great post @ Foreign Policy’s FP Passport Blog from Annie Lowrey:

Seven months ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton — the powerful New York Senator, former First Lady, and runner-up in the brutally long Democratic primary competition — became U.S. President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Since then, she’s chastened North Korea, advocated on behalf of Burma, and rallied against Israeli settlement building. She’s logged nearly 100,000 air miles. She’s tirelessly pursued Obama’s diplomatic agenda around the world.

And she’s done it while fostering or demonstrating little friction with the White House she once hoped to occupy. Being secretary of state doesn’t just require being a diplomat abroad. It requires being a diplomat in Washington. For, foreign policy is not and has never been the purview of State alone — Clinton overlaps and dovetails and supports and creates policy with Obama, a spate of diplomatic envoys, the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the national security advisers, Vice President Joe Biden, et cetera. By all accounts, she’s done well at that as well.

Not that you’d know it reading the paper. Too often, coverage of Clinton neglects the fact that the secretary of state has never been the sole creator of U.S. foreign policy. It also, far too often, focuses hyper-intently on the perceived narrative of how Clinton feels about her relationship with the White House — rather than the actual relationship between Clinton and Obama or how she’s doing her job.

As they say, read the whole damn thing — Lowrey goes on to name ‘em and shame ‘em.  It (still) ain’t pretty.

Sigh.

h/t The Kicker

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