Talking publicly in private

Talking publicly in private I realize that many businesses in Whitehorse have turned to importing workers to meet the labor shortage. This seems more prevalent in the retail sector, but also appears to have affected other areas. Since Whitehorse is sma

I realize that many businesses in Whitehorse have turned to importing workers to meet the labor shortage.

This seems more prevalent in the retail sector, but also appears to have affected other areas.

Since Whitehorse is small, it is unfair to expect that there are as many trained journalists as there are positions available.

This has been illustrated in the Yukon News on many occasions and last Friday’s edition provided one more example of how reporters seem to have jobs without having any concept of standards of journalism ethics. I refer in particular to the use of quotes from a listserv or newsgroup without the permission of the writer.

I realize that I haven’t worked in the field for over 30 years and that ethical codes often lag behind technology.

However, as a teacher of information technology, I have tried to keep up with the effects of advances in a variety of fields. I have been pleased to see that journalism has kept these effects in mind and has maintained the code of journalistic ethics in step with advances in technology.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation, for example, provides a repository of information on journalistic ethics and has dealt with the question.

The response is that, while these venues are public in nature, “reporters should normally treat e-mail lists and newsgroups like overheard conversations Ð the ethical thing to do is contact the person who posted and get permission to quote, or, failing that, seek permission to do an interview,” according to the Canadian Journalism Project website. “Journalists should avoid exploiting people just to liven up their articles.”

I truly do not appreciate that a reporter of yours has quoted me in such circumstances without my permission. I am aware of several others who feel the same way.

The ArtsNet listserv is public in nature; however, it is public only to members of that listserv and many of the members probably feel that their commentary is limited to such.

I do stand by my quote that appeared in Friday’s paper and feel it accurately represents my opinion in the matter.

That being said, this, and other similar failures to perform in a professional manner, are not entirely the fault of the reporter.

Such disregard of common courtesy is more the failure of the editor, who did not blue-pencil the offensive material out, than that of the reporter in question.

I respectfully wish a published apology for myself and the other members of ArtsNet who did not wish their comments repeated outside the venue in which they were made.

Doug Rutherford


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