If you attend a journalism school or keep up with journalism news, you’ve most likely heard something as of late about the Columbia Missourian’s conflict of interest policy and how it affects students working as paid or unpaid staffers at the paper.
**Transparency alert: I am currently employed by the Missourian as an assistant city editor, and have worked for them in other capacities as a reporter, copy editor and member of the community outreach team. That being said, I am also a third-year student at the University of Missouri. I should also say that my opinions and thoughts as portrayed on this blog are in no way representative of the Missourian or it’s staff. What I write and think is mine, and mine alone.**
I have many thoughts and feelings about the back and forth on this policy that I could bore you with, but I’ll sum it up briefly instead. If you want more details, I am far more riveting to converse with in person.
Short, sweet and to the point:
Journalists are people. Students are people. These two statements should be able to coexist peacefully in their many iterations. But a professional experience is also a professional experience, and if I was interested in anything less than what a professional newspaper experience entailed, I would work somewhere else.
Enough said. I’m more interested in what you all have to say.
So, for your reading pleasure, please see the links I have been perusing on this topic. Feel free to leave your own comments or interact with me on social media if there are any useful links you think I might have missed.
The Missourian’s conflict of interest policy as it stands, courtesy of the advanced reporting class blog.
A series of Dear Reader articles by Missourian Executive Editor Tom Warhover explaining the most recent revision of the policy.
- First, he asks readers for their own views and suggestions.
- Later, he responds to some concerns from readers, addressing specifically the notions of objectivity and journalists as people.
- Lastly, his most recent Dear Reader from March 2011 details the revisions adopted in January 2011.
An article from the Student Press Law Center accusing that the policy censors students
A post from the student-run blog, J-School Buzz, which also takes issue with the Missourian’s policy.
To draw some comparison, I also invite you to view some COI policies from other media organizations.
- The New York Times’ ethics policy, sections A2 and B1
- The Kansas City Star’s code of ethics, sections on freelancing and moonlighting
- And this cool aggregation of ethics policies by the American Society of Newspaper Editors
I also read the comments sections in all of these posts, where users, Columbia residents and non-residents alike, debate different aspects of the policy. (After last semester, I am fascinated by comments policies.)