As iMediaEthics wrote last month, editors from three South Carolina and Georgia newspapers participated in a September journalism ethics forum hosted by the Beaufort County library. Hilton Head Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette editor Jeff Kidd noted in a blogpost that photojournalism ethics, bias and other media ethics issues were discussed in the “forum.”
iMediaEthics heard back from Gullah Sentinel editor Jabari Moketsi, who explained that the Sentinel, a “niche newspaper,” was invited by the library to participate in the workshop, which he said lasted about two hours. The Sentinel publishes every other week, only in the Beaufort, South Carolina area, and has a circulation of about 6,000 papers, Moketsi told iMediaEthics by phone. The newspaper’s “main mission” is reporting on the Gullah culture, he said. (More about Gullah on the Sentinel’s website.)
According to Moketsi, at the workshop, “we were talking about when is it ethical, to say for example, print a photograph” or “bend the truth…to expose a positive point.”
“I’m of the opinion that it is never ethical to bend the truth even if it’s exposing the truth,” Moketsi added.
Moketsi estimated that about “40 or 50 people” attended and noted that the “moderator was the retired librarian.”
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He also differentiated between issues at the Sentinel and other outlets at the workshop. Whereas the other outlets are “part of a corporation” and “have to run it up the flagpole,” he noted being an “independent newspaper” can have its “advantages.”
“You can be be more true to journalism,” he said, because he can make the final decision for whether to publish information or photos of, say, a car accident.
One huge disadvantage he said his newspaper faces is the effect of limited advertising revenue on the Sentinel’s ability to expand. “As a result of advertising, we cannot cover a lot of things we would like to cover because we don’t get the type of advertising that the mainstream press gets…When you don’t grow you can’t cover the stories.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Beaufort County Library asking if it plans any more journalism ethics events in the near future. We’ll update with any response.