Paul Farhi of the Washington Post has set upon the second questionable ethical move by NBC News in a week. Earlier he chronicled a decision by NBC to develop a movie with a victimized family it covered exclusively. Now he is writing about payment to skydivers for aerial footage and interviews following a collision by two airborne small planes. The video set NBC back $100,000 and gets them a Today Show exclusive Tuesday and two weeks' worth of exclusive television coverage (print interviews are permitted under their agreement).
Is the drive for transparency distorting the ethics of media and democracy? University of Oregon scholar Stephen Ward (transparency disclosure: a former colleague) argues that the "hyperbole" of transparency is a cop-out for more formidable obligations of the craft: responsible publication and independence. Moreover, Ward argues, some important journalism is non-transparent and that transparency is not necessary for many forms of good journalism.
NYU scholar Jay Rosen rarely sets fingers to keyboard without shaking conventional wisdom and finding insights into digital media. His latest Pressthink post is the basis of a speech in Australia and it riffs on Old and New Testament media traits: Old being everyone involved, New being media as mediators in insiders and outsiders, those kinds of riffs. The New Testament's business model, which valued the protection of media, is breaking down. He isn't necessarily siding, but he is suggesting both pieces are moving toward reconciliation. Neither has a monopoly on virtue, he says, and the messiah has yet to surface.
Media outlets have raised concern about a recent 60 Minutes segment on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost last year in Benghazi. They've noted the central subject of the segment had different stories for the cameras and for officials. Now the Huffington Post's media writer, Michael Calderone, is reporting that the subject, British security official Dylan Davies, has admitted there are differing tales --- but that the television one (and the one in his book) are factual and that he lied to his boss about his whereabouts on the night of the attack.