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Journalism ethics conference to explore media, money and elections

March 28, 2012 By Stacy Forster

In an age of partisan journalism and “combat” politics, is the idea of media helping citizens make informed electoral choices a quaint but outdated notion?

Photo: Stephen J.A. Ward


The fourth journalism ethics conference, to be staged by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics on Friday, April 13, will explore the timely issues and trends surrounding electoral reporting and their impact on democracy.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, will deliver the keynote speech, presenting the latest research on how the public is affected by trends in media and journalism.

The conference will culminate in a tribute to Anthony Shadid, a 1990 UW journalism and political science graduate who died in February while covering the conflict in Syria for the New York Times. Shadid’s international reporting won him two Pulitzer Prizes.

Sessions will cover issues such as political advertising and fact-checking websites. There will be workshops on such topics as how to follow the money trail in elections and how to cover elections in a social media age. Participants include Michael Slackman of the New York Times, social media expert Marc Smith and Bill Adair of Politifact.

“Many citizens are concerned that the idea of fair and free elections, supported by informed and fair-minded journalists, is an idea in jeopardy,” says Stephen J.A. Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics and Burgess Professor of Journalism Ethics. “We, as a public, need to discuss new possibilities for informed public engagement with political issues.”

At the tribute to Shadid, the Center for Journalism Ethics will present the first Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics to Steve Lovejoy, editor of the Journal Times in Racine. Formerly called the Wisconsin Commitment to Journalism Ethics Award, the award recognizes journalists who have shown a commitment to ethical principles in their journalism. Shadid was a member of the advisory board of the Center for Journalism Ethics.

The conference will be at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St. For more information on the conference or to register, visit here.

This year’s conference is supported by donations from the Evjue Foundation, the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Green Line Strategies LLC, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, WISC-TV in Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Association, the Investigative News Network, the UW School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and individual citizens.