Four prominent journalists from the Denver metro area visited CU Denver students and faculty, along with members of the public, to discuss principle-based ethics in a rapidly changing journalism industry. The Daniels Fund Colloquia on Ethics in Communication and CU Denver’s Department of Communication presented the Sept. 26 panel on social media, journalism and ethics.
Journalists in attendance were Kyle Clark, an anchor and reporter at 9NEWS known for his engagement with community members via social media channels such as Twitter; Gabrielle Bryant, the digital media director for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; Susan Gonzalez, a digital producer for E.W. Scripps who helps 60 local news organizations manage online content; and Kevin Beaty, a reporter and photographer at the Denverite.
The panelists discussed the current state of journalism, which they say is under threat due to politics, funding, paid content that masquerades as news and journalists’ own errors and biases. They stressed the importance of accuracy and accountability in an era when the majority of people are getting their news from social media.
“There are people behind the scenes who want to give you the best and most accurate information,” Gonzalez said to the crowd of 193 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. “I’m hoping you’ll stick with the people who will give you the truth and not just that quick fix of news you want.”
Social media has undoubtedly changed the news industry—but in some ways for the better. “Ethical journalism through social media can get people to engage with each other,” Clark said. “It serves a useful function because it brings journalists down from their pedestals.”
Sponsored by the Daniels Fund, the Daniels Fund Colloquia on Ethics in Communication series started three years ago to promote interaction between esteemed journalists and university students, faculty, and the community on the meaning of ethics in gathering, disseminating, and interpreting information. Guest speakers featured in the past include journalists Hedrick Smith, Sonja Shah, David Ignatius, Xiao Qiang, and Evan Osnos, as well as author and activist Rinku Sen and John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado.
“It’s our way of showing what the communication department stands for—ethical, inclusive, and fair,” said Michelle Médal, MA, program assistant in the Department of Communication.