NY Times editor discusses ethics

Mark Bennett

William Schmidt, associate managing editor of The New York Times, spoke about journalism ethics at a lecture Tuesday, Nov. 9 and described journalism as “bearing witness.”

Schmidt witnessed first-hand the episodes of New York Times writer Jayson Blair, who was caught making up stories. Schmidt said there are many things The New York Times did to ensure that wouldn’t happen again, and that other news organizations should consider doing them as well. The provisions included improving management, open communication among editors and reporters, training managers and holding editors accountable for not checking facts.

Schmidt said occurrences such as Blair’s are exceptions and that most journalists are

Schmidt blamed failures in communication and editing as reasons for Blair’s articles being published. He said news organizations need to start ensuring accountability in and out of the newsroom.

After the Blair scandal, Schmidt said The New York Times improved its ethical policies and reworked their handbook to include more restrictions on conflicts of interest.

Some of the restrictions include employees barred from running for public office, donating time or money to a political campaign, participating in a political rally and sports writers can not vote for entrants into Hall of Fames.

About 50 people were in attendance.

Schmidt’s lecture is part of NKU’s involvement in the American Democracy Project, which encourages college students to become more involved in civic and community issue. The lecture was co-sponsored by The New York Times and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.