Saturday, August 24, 2013

Journalism Ethics? Yeah, Right

In a column posted earlier this month, Rob Cox, global editor of Reuters Breakingviews, says it would be good business for Starbucks to ban guns in their stores.
Still, the economic downside for Starbucks may be much greater than the company has let on. The current furor could explode into a nationwide call for a boycott - something that many gun control organizations are now publicly embracing, particularly following an insensitive, though legal, call by one gun rights group for its members to parade their weapons at the Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut - where 20 children and six educators were massacred in an elementary school last December by a gunman wielding an assault weapon with high-capacity magazines.

The truth is, Starbucks and its shareholders may have more to lose than gain by resisting the adoption of a policy like the one it has for its own corporate headquarters that asks gun owners to check them at the door.
This column predated the call by Moms Demand Action to boycott Starbucks today by a few weeks. However, I think it highly likely that Mr. Cox was well aware of the impending boycott today.


Because Mr. Cox, in addition to his work for Reuters, is a founder of the gun control group Sandy Hook Promise and is their Development Director. He discloses his role as a founder of Sandy Hook Promise at the bottom of his column.

I don't know whether Mr. Cox is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. If he is a member, shame on him for ignoring the Society's Code of Ethics. It states that journalists should "Act Independently".
Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
If Mr. Cox and the rest of the mainstream media ever wonders why gun owners (and conservatives and libertarians) have such a distrust of the media, he need only look to this column and his role as a founder of Sandy Hook Promise. Knowing of his role in a gun control organization, who would ever believe anything that he wrote or edited for Reuters that concerned firearms? The answer is no reasonable person because it would be it be slanted against guns whether consciously or unconsciously.

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