PA Press Conference Guide: Your ethical questions, answered


Kelly McBride, media ethicist at the Poynter Institute, will serve as somewhat of a safari tour guide at this year’s PA Press Conference, giving tips on how to navigate the vast, ever-morphing jungle that is ethics.


Her session Friday morning, “Building Trust in the 21st Century Audience” will be the first of three panels over the weekend dedicated to ethics.

“As a journalist, if you have the skills to navigate the ethical process, then all the changes don’t seem too scary,” the first-time Pennsylvania Press Conference speaker said. “But if you are somebody who does ethics by being rule obedient, so essentially you memorize a set of rules to apply to a variety of situations, then you’re going to be in trouble.”

Following McBride’s session, Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel, and Paula Knudsen, director of legal affairs for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, will hold an ethics workshop.

Then, on Saturday, a diverse group of editors and educators will talk about how newsrooms can still hang onto their core values while the industry changes around them during a 1:45 p.m. panel discussion.

Josh Stearns, Director of Journalism and Sustainability at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and founding board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, is also a first-time panelist at the conference.


“Ethics are not immutable,” said the Massachusetts-based ethicist. “They too, need to be assessed and looked at and I think that’s the really interesting place for conversation right now is that intersection of new ways of doing journalism, new tools for doing it, and the ethics that go along with that.

“I’m going to really be looking at those ethical questions through the lens of what our communities need from us as journalists. Community is the starting point.”


Follow the panelists on Twitter:

Kelly McBride 

Josh Stearns

James Asher

Russell Eshleman

Garry Lenton


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