These background materials will help you make your decision about the ethics of the Spokane Spokesman-Review’s undercover investigation and subsequent report on Spokane’s mayor Jim West. Below is a complete list of the external links to the articles and interviews. The full text of these articles is also available on this site.
The Series of Stories | An Overview of the Ethical Issue | The Ethical Critiques | Spokane Spokesman-Review Explanation
In Defense of the Spokesman-Review | Ethics Codes
The Series of Stories
This package of stories will be passed on to the judges, but first you determine whether or not it was produced ethically. Of course, we expect you to read the complete series, with special attention to the role of the undercover forensic computer expert who posed as an 18-year-old boy.
An Overview of the Ethical Issue
After the story broke, the Spokesman Review got national attention, much of it debating whether or not it acted ethically in using an undercover forensic agent to pose as an 18 year old boy on the Internet.
The Ethical Critiques
What the editorials said; see full list or selected list below:
Spokane Spokesman-Review Explanation
Editor Steve Smith explains the Spokesman-Review's actions, including using an undercover forensic computer expert posing as a 17-year-old boy.
In Defense of the Spokesman-Review
Newspaper articles, blogs and in comments several voices defended the actions of the Spokesman- Review in using an undercover forensic computer expert posing as a 17-year-old
Here is a plethora of journalism codes of ethics at the Editor & Publisher website including the Society of Professional Journalist’s ethic code which editor Steve Smith uses as a reference for his actions.
Interesting stuff, this ethics. Want to know more? Turn to the Poynter’s Media Ethics Bibliography.
*Please note there is explicit language used in this interview
© 2006 Leonard Witt