Tompkins: Don’t reward station for ethical breach

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Al Tompkins, author of the Poynter Institute’s popular Al’s Morning Meeting blog, questions the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s decision to present a Maine TV station with an Edward R. Murrow award for a series based on a trip to China that was funded by the Maine Foundation for Cardiac Surgery.

In the case of WGME, the travel was not frivolous. It highlighted very good work being done by local doctors to save lives, and it was the type of story that could generate community support. The station said it could not have afforded to cover the story if it had to pay its own tab, but I don’t buy it.

In general, news organizations should not allow the phrase “In these tough economic times …” to become reason to bend ethical rules that have guided our craft through decades of good economic times.

Moreover, the national Edward R. Murrow contest should represent the peak of ethical behavior. If RTNDA does not enforce its code of ethics in its national contest, then it misses a key opportunity to say what the association stands for.

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