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Ethical decisions are important,
sometimes carry a cost


by Jeff Kocur

I am encouraged by the stories of some former students who have encountered ethical dilemmas at their college newspapers.

One of my former students resigned as managing editor at a college newspaper on the East Coast after he said he watched his editor-in-chief repeatedly breach standard journalistic ethics in gathering and reporting information. Several other editors accompanied him in his very public resignation.

Good journalists act as a watchdog and expose the truth even though it may have a cost. This journalist had the courage to accept a very personal cost when he saw the editor-in-chief operating in a way that was not acceptable, and he did journalism a favor by standing up to it.

Will it change anything? Will the editor-in-chief understand his breach of ethics? Will he ever work as a professional?

I don’t know.

I do know that my former student, who is enrolled next year at the Medill School of Journalism for a graduate degree at Northwestern University, understands clearly what harm can be done by acting unethically in his profession, and I hope we see more people coming into this profession that see things like he does.

For more information about this situation: This commentary in the other campus newspaper at Brandeis discusses the issue at the Hoot, which was one of the three reasons the editor resigned. It also discusses several other things connected to the issue, but not specifically related to the ethics of the editor’s actions.

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