"How Occupy Wall Street Cost Me My Job"

At Gawker, Brooklyn-based journalist Caitlin Curran explains how you could quickly go from being part of the downtrodden 99% to being part of the "no, really, unemployed and utterly fucked" contingent: your boss could see a photo of you holding up a sign at a protest and fire you the next day. Ms. Curran is the woman in the photo above, feature in two previous Boing Boing posts. As she explains, my post here was part of the story of how she lost her job over her participation in the Occupy Wall Street protests:

The next day, Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin posted the photo as the site's Occupy Wall Street sign of the day, the post circulated around Tumblr, Friedersdorf himself saw it and wrote about it, as did Felix Salmon at Reuters, who called me "one of those protestors that photographers dream of" and the sign "true, and accurate, and touching, and grammatical, and far too long to be a slogan, and gloriously bereft of punctuation, and ending even more gloriously in a mildly archaic preposition." Beyond that, Salmon noted, the sign's internet notoriety showed that there was something about it that resonated with people. Which was really the whole point of why we made the sign, and of Friedersdorf's piece.

I thought all of this could be fodder for an interesting segment on The Takeaway—a morning news program co-produced by WNYC Radio and Public Radio International—for which I had been working as a freelance web producer roughly 20 hours per week for the past seven months. I pitched the idea to producers on the show, in an e-mail.

The next day, The Takeaway's director fired me over the phone, effective immediately. He was inconsolably angry, and said that I had violated every ethic of journalism, and that this should be a "teaching moment" for me in my career as a journalist. The segment I had pitched, of course, would not happen. Ironically, the following day Marketplace did pretty much the exact segment I thought would have been great on The Takeaway, with Kai Ryssdal discussing the sign and the Goldman Sachs deal it alluded to in terms that were far from neutral.

I hope that Ms. Curran is hired by a news organization with a spine, and soon. You can follow her on Twitter.

(thanks, Susannah Breslin)



  1. I don’t know why this is a surprise. You’re a journalist. You put yourself in the center of a story. You destroyed your credibility as an impartial, unbiased reporter of the news. They beat that kind of thinking out of you freshman year of j-school.

    1. Indeed, there’s nothing like the credibility of trained journalists asking gotcha questions of their interviewees, like “But why are you demonizing the 1%, don’t they have feelings too?” A journalist aware of her politics is infinitely preferable to one who pretends they don’t have any while actively pushing a conservative agenda, which accounts for many of the reporters I’ve witnessed at OWS.

      Impartiality is a myth, one that favors, and is designed to favor, the status quo.

      1. Modern journalism is sadly founded on the concept of a gotcha question. The sound-biting and YouTube clipping of our news consuming has destroyed us. Now all you need is one 5-second clip to go viral to make your claim.

        However, as a member of a publicly funded news service, you should know better than to attach yourself to any kind of movement or ideology because this is precisely what will happen. Everyone knows people have biases. Everyone knows we all have our agenda. But there is a wide gap between knowing that, and having someone decide that they don’t need to bother even attempting to show impartiality. No story this person ever ran on the OWS movement would have a lick of credibility following it because it is so obviously something she agrees with.

        I’m sorry if you think that impartiality is a myth, but I do not. It also does not favor the status quo. It favors an ideal that the truth extends beyond emotion, and into the real of the factual. By expressing your opinion openly you dissolve any idea that you might be looking for facts rather than support.

        1. Everyone knows people have biases. Everyone knows we all have our agenda. But there is a wide gap between knowing that, and having someone decide that they don’t need to bother even attempting to show impartiality.

          So it’s okay to have a bias as long as you publicly pretend that you do not?

          By expressing your opinion openly you dissolve any idea that you might be looking for facts rather than support.

          You are unable to objectively report the facts of situation on which you have an opinion? My condolences for your lack of self control.

          Whether a story is objective or not comes out only in one place – the story. And objective does not mean impartial. For instance, reporting that the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda is a bunch genocidal sociopaths is objective. It is not impartial. Conversely, giving equal time to climate change sceptics and the other 99% of scientists is impartial (to both sides of the debate), but not objective (to the truth).

          1. So it’s okay to have a bias as long as you publicly pretend that you do not?

            Yes, that’s what most of her detractors here are basically saying.

            Many are ridiculous and archaic at best…. or here with (ironically) dishonest, ulterior motives with anti-OWS agendas at worst.

          2. Again with the straw man arguments. I’ll come right out and say (again) that I support OWS and have said nothing to indicate the contrary. OWS as the setting is incidental to what most of the folks are arguing over here.

            Let’s create a hypothetical scenario: a popular movement known as *teabaggers* have been occupying the streets of *DC* for weeks, protesting the powers that be on *K street*, when a *Fox News* reporter sharing their opinions joins their ranks to protest, is photographed as such, then tries to pitch themselves as a subject of a story relaying the opinions of the occupying group.

            Now that we’ve removed OWS from the picture, would you defend the Fox reporter’s journalistic integrity in producing a piece on the topic of teabagger protests after having participated with a particular bias? That’s the crux. Perhaps firing Curran was too harsh, but I would certainly question her judgement as the employer. If your reply is that “journalistic integrity died a long time ago and is no longer an expectation”, than the only end game I see in this cynical world is that we can no longer trust anyone at anytime. There is a difference between honest attempts toward objectivity and complete subjectivity.

          3. Having written that, I realize now the true end game is actually “believe the reports that agree with your delicately constructed world view, disparage those that disagree.” God help us.

        2. Objective facts do not exist in human cultures. Sorry, but it’s true. Stealing from Terry Eagleton, even saying something as banal as “that church was built in 1667″ presupposes that one speaks English, knows what a “church” is, uses the Gregorian calendar, etc.: and this is just a fact, or datum, a bit of discreet knowledge that seems objective but is crawling all over with subjectivity. If one places said facts into a standard sentence, X noun Y verb Z predicate, then the subjectivity increases exponentially. Why pretend this isn’t true, and hide behind an all-too-political mask of apolitical impartiality? Sorry, but your arguments are rather lame, like when Stanley Fish talks about keeping politics out of the classroom. Everything is political, everything is subjective.

        3. When you say “publicly funded,” I think you mean government-funded. That is not the case. This is how WNYC is funded; Public Radio International is funded as such: “Total FY2009 revenues were $27.8 million with support provided by station fees, corporate underwriting and grants from individuals and foundations. “

      2. Impartiality is not a myth. It’s the gold standard of professionalism. Being politically self-aware and parading around like a stage hungry peacock are two different things. 

        1. The same gold standard that produced Judith Miller? The same gold standard that buries OWS news in the back pages? The same gold standard that midwifed the Iraq War? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

          And please tell all of this to the ghost of Jacob Riis. We need fiery muckraker activists, not professional stenographers for the wealthy power elite.

          1. Actually Timothy, remember  how Dick Cheney et al used a technique similar to Ms. Curran’s to get the NYT to “report” on aluminum tubes in Iraq?  He leaked the false story about discovered aluminum tubes used as components in Iraqi WMD knowing that the Times’ fact checkers would print first and fact-check later. Cheney followed-up with an appearance on Meet The Press where he told Russert in an innocent manner, “There’s a story in the New York Times this morning … ”
            See – first you create the news and then you can use it to quote yourself to control the message. Similarly, Ms. Curran pumped up the protest news story by featuring herself as its main star. That’s why she was shown the door. 

          2. Lolwhut? There are huge differences between lying to Congress, the media, and the American people from an elected position of grave responsibilities, and featuring oneself in a story that one’s pitching-producing. Certainly you recognize this?

          3. The same gold standard that produced Judith Miller? The same gold standard that buries OWS news in the back pages? The same gold standard that midwifed the Iraq War? I do not think that word means what you think it means. And please tell all of this to the ghost of Jacob Riis. We need fiery muckraker activists, not professional stenographers for the wealthy power elite.

            Amen.  ….and a double-backflip, Amen.

    2. She’s a producer, & an individual.  Having personal political issues doesn’t violate any reasonable ethics.  Having her photo taken doesn’t constitute journalistic bias.

      1. I wasn’t aware that becoming a journalist meant you could no longer have opinions, could no longer participate…..does it also mean you cannot vote?   I fully agree with you!

    3. She’s not a reporter. She’s a contract part-time producer. There’s a difference in job duty, and even that granted it seems to me that her political activities in her private life have no bearing on her duties as a producer.

    4. You believe the journalists you see on TV are ‘impartial, unbiased reporters of the news.’  Every journalist you read?  What do you read and what do you watch?

      Journalism has some very flawed, delusional ethics, that I imagine starts in journalism school, and I am guessing you share them.  What passes for mainstream news is absolutely not neutral.

      To be clear, journalists day in and out express the opinions & politics of their publishers and editors.  Calling that neutrality is incredibly naive.

      Also, your faulting her for being in the protest while allegedly ‘neutral’ reporters are stationed at the protest with the sole goal of baiting the protesters and trying to make them look silly?  Please.

    5. erm… Fox News and many of Murdoch’s media is completely biased reporting (even thought they claim they arent) and not many of you question it or even notice it.   

  2. Journalists should be objective, not necessarily impartial. Even if you report just the facts, you’re forced to be partial when choosing what stories are important to report.

  3. Are you kidding me? I read the comments on gawker and here and I’m baffled, is it really widely assumed in the United States that being a journalist means renouncing your civil and political rights?

    1. Representing or reporting on the political process means keeping your political life private.  Journalists, judges and district attorneys follow this ethical guideline. 

      1. Representing or reporting on the political process means keeping your political life private.  Journalists, judges and district attorneys follow this ethical guideline.

        Uh, no it doesn’t.  Nevermind the fact that DAs and Judges are often partisan political appointments, there is no issue at all with a journalist revealing their political leanings, or even in participating in something like a protest.  Many of us do that on a regular basis, without incident.

        What is an ethical violation is in participating in something like a protest, and then attempting to run a story about yourself and your involvement in it.  That’s like… a big deal.

        1. What is an ethical violation is in participating in something like a protest, and then attempting to run a story about yourself and your involvement in it.  That’s like… a big deal.

          Yeah, it’s really honest reporting.  We certainly can’t have that in this day and age.

      2. Representing or reporting on the political process means keeping your political life private.  Journalists, judges and district attorneys follow this ethical guideline.

        That’s right…  Do not dare show support for OWS and the American people on your own time.  Instead, you should quietly participate in the “non-political” process of telling half-truths about corporations in order to protect them from said American people.  Keep the status quo and if you do tell the truth, keep your mouth shut when the editors slash and burn it in order to protect their corporatist masters.


        You should keep that “journalistic” corporatist “political life” a hidden lie while you very publicly participate in a process that protects the 1% while you quietly shit all over the 99%.

        So, anyway… these “journalists” still have their jobs, Rudypeev.  Great ethics, Rudypeev.

        (welcome to the real world, Rudypeev)
        Antonin Scalia &  Clarence Thomas:

        They still have their jobs, Rudypeev.

        District Attorneys:
        Are you crazy?  District attorneys endorse political views and parties all the time:

        Ken Buck still has his job, Rudypeev.

  4. Ms. Curran should have known better.  To maintain integrity, professional journalists cannot publicly endorse causes, no matter how noble they may be.  While I support this cause, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on a Fox news freelancer who was participating in a rally for something I found offensive.

    Additionally – her show is on PUBLIC RADIO where funding is under attack.  Even if they didn’t have a formal policy, which I’m sure they do, common sense alone would tell you that this is a no-no.

    There is advocacy journalism out there and if she wants to be actively political, then she needs to pursue those kinds of organizations.  

  5. Wait, she pitched a story about herself? Even if we modified journalistic convention to make that ok, it’s just tacky.

  6. If you want to send a message to the show/producers, send a $5 donation with a note that it would have been $50 if they hadn’t fired her. While you can donate online, snail mail may be more effective.

  7. The Takeaway here is that public radio has long been in the hands of gutless cowards who like to play “progressive liberals” from their high vantage points of rich, cultural elitists who, ironically, are completely out of touch with the culture. They’re the ones who keep championing the Democratic Party as something we should support and pay attention to, as if those guys give a shit about the 99%. They are as objective and impartial as Fox News, except that Fox News, at least, doesn’t put up pretensions. I’d rather see a wolf look like a wolf, than a wolf dressed up as a baby-boomer sheep with a ponytail.

    It certainly is a teaching moment!

  8. I’m solidly with the cause of the 99%, but the BB blurb here–“…your boss could see a photo of you holding up a sign at a protest and fire you the next day…”–strikes me as seriously misleading. 
    Ms. Curran wasn’t fired for participating in the protest, nor for getting “caught” on film. Rather, she CREATED the specific event central to the story (the impact of the photo of herself) that she then tried to pitch to a news program–and that’s clearly against journalistic ethics. Had she merely suggested a more general story about the OWS protests (that happened to be in line with her personal politics), I think that would have been fine with WNYC.
    Analogous to how a convict can’t profit from his crime, a journalist can’t create the news she covers. Unless she works for FOX.

  9. I love NPR, but this is the second firing/disassociation of a radio producer or host that I know of simply because they took part in OWS protests (see this NPR article about the dismissal of Lisa Simeone from her NPR affiliated station and show: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141551424).  Seriously, what is up?  Can’t journalists and news radio producers express their own opinion, on their own time, and still be reasoned and credible in their work?  This continues to feel like a further dilution by corporate entities that people no longer express themselves privately, and that somehow we are all too one-minded to not be able to have opinions AND see when nuanced, multiple viewpoints are necessary.  For heaven’s sake, I’ve heard people call in to NPR shows, state they are perhaps more right-leaning than much of the content or tone of NPR news segments, and still offer an intelligent, multifaceted response to an idea with which they may not agree.  If NPR’s audience can do it, why would they assume those who work for them or affiliated stations and shows cannot?

  10. OWS has proven to me that with the exception of Mother Jones, The Guardian, Democracy Now, Keith Olbermann and a sprinkling of others; media in 2011 are primarily focused on Lindsay Lohan’s Morgue work and nude pics.

  11. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Curran’s work before.  She will be an asset to any news organization with the backbone to bring her inside.

  12. The fact that Ms Curran is a journalist should not preclude her from participating in something which may be of journalistic interest on its own.  That’s like my employer firing me for using a computer to read email and surf the internet while away from my job as a computer programmer.

  13. First of all, Ms. Curran wasn’t fired. She was a part-time freelancer who lost her gig.

    Secondly, Xeni, if you and she, don’t understand why journalists are expected to maintain at least the image of impartiality and the lack of bias, then perhaps both of you need to go back to journalism school.

    Ms. Curran was photographed and widely seen to be expressing a very definite political viewpoint.  By allowing her to continue to produce news segments, the radio station put its own reputation at risk. We all know, expect and understand that journalists have political opinions and biases. But if said journalist feels so strongly about an issue that he or she can’t keep those views private, how can anyone ever trust that she can put aside her personal opinions and report all the facts as he saw them or discovered? And if a news organization continues to hire such a journalist, how can we trust that this organization is not itself slanting the facts?

    It’s not that Ms. Curran had a view, or that her opinion was incorrect. It’s that she failed to keep them private.

    Now, I’m sure there are some who say that Ms. Curran, even as a journalist, has a right to express her own opinions in any forum. Well, yes, she does —  as a citizen. But this is one of the experiences that journalists do have to give up if they expect to be involved in news reporting. It’s a sacrifice of the profession, just as someone building a military career is going to have to sacrifice his or her free speech a bit (prohibited from criticizing the president), just as government employees (teachers, police officers, etc.) are often restricted in where they may live (for instance, an NYC government employee must actually live in the city — no Westchester or Hoboken or Long Island for them).

    1. Their reputation is not at risk because of what their journalists do in their free time.

      It’s not like she robbed a bank to do a story on bank robbers. She went on the street and exercised her rights. Nothing more.

      Look who FOX or CNN has in their green room sometime, uh huh, and NPR/PRI are the ones who have to be careful??

      Kent, what’s your game?

      1. Uh, are you really using Fox News as an example? Because the taint of bias is so strong there that the idea that they have any journalistic integrity is beyond ridiculous. If you want to make a more direct comparison, Roger Aimes is the head of the beast there, who is not a journalist, but is directly responsible for the lack of journalistic integrity there.

        The fact that she holds these views is not the issues. The issue is that she couldn’t control herself enough to keep from promoting them. Will she promote them on programs she produces? It is a heck of a lot more likely now.

        Worse, she tried to make *herself* the story. That’s pretty much the definition of bad journalism.

        If you’re running an news organization that’s entire image is impartiality and fairness, you can’t have this woman working there.

        That said, it was an awesome sign.

    2. NYC teachers have no residency restrictions. NY police and and firefighters can live in any of the six counties surrounding NYC, including Westchester and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. NYC’s residency restrictions primarily apply to the Mayor’s staff.

      The rest of your comment is similarly misinformed.

    3. I love this: ” journalists are expected to maintain at least the image of impartiality…”

      If pretending to be something we are not is a value we uphold as a society, and teach our students at school, we’re lost. You’re basically saying “journalists need to lie to themselves.”  In an age where information flies around faster than light, and where you can build a case for almost ANY point of view by googling the web for a few minutes, this ethos of pretending to be objective has to be re-examined. Journalists should do their best at being objective as human beings, and then writing the most intelligent, analysis of their subject in good faith that they believe they are reporting what they see to be the truth. Then it is up to us to listen to their argument and critique it, agree with it, whatever.

      The only real “journalistic objectivity” would be reporting strict facts, JUST facts, and ALL facts. Even then there would be a bias in how you ordered the facts. News reports go way beyond that- the language and context they give creates a point of view for sure. Any journalist who bullshits themselves into thinking they are upholding the credo their professors taught them is a fool. NO one is doing that, by virtue of being a human. Curran’s true mistake was simply acknowledging something we all know, which gave her editor a tangible piece of evidence to knee-jerk react to. I’m sure the editor in question needs to do something like that every so often to convince himself his job matters.

    4. “how can we trust that this organization is not itself slanting the facts?”

      Kent, you can’t trust that any news organization is not slanting, or at least selectively reporting, the facts.  Especially when that organization holds itself out as “objective”.  Get used to it.

      That is why it’s important to base your views on information found from as many sources as possible.

      It’s also important to pay attention to news and opinion from sources with different political points of view than your own, which is why I check boingboing at least once a day.

  14. There is something ironically unfair about being the person who created such a newsworthy photo (and wonderfully powerful statement) that was picked up by so many news organizations, many of whom you consider your peers and/or people you might one day like to work for .. then being unable to yourself report on the story that you were at the heart of.  That part sucks massively.  But that’s the deal as a professional journalist .. you don’t make the news, you report the news.

    However, she didn’t need to be fired.  They should have just said no, you can’t cover this story, and we’re going to look at you a little funny for suggesting that you should.

    Aaron Altman: “Let’s never forget, we’re the real story, not them.”

  15. Perhaps she could intern with Michael Moore? (BTW, I agree wholeheartedly with the content of Ms. Curran’s sign.)

  16. I found her sign to be ironic when I first saw it last week. Goldman Sachs victim in that scheme was another bank, ABN Amro. They’re a huge, multinational Dutch Bank, that was a large mortgage lender in USA during the run-up to the crisis.  I’m sure thousands of their mortgages have gone bust, helping to fuel the crisis.

    Should they literally be the poster boy/victims for OWS?

  17. “Mr. Woodward, Mr Bernstein, you’re fired.  I hope this is a teaching moment for you.  When you throw your impartiality out the window you should expect something like this to happen.”

  18. I wholeheartedly support the OWS movement, and if I was her boss, I would’ve fired her too. Pitching a story where you are the subject at a political rally? Honestly she must’ve been out of her mind to think that would fly. Unless you are suggesting that NPR become the liberal version of Fox News, I don’t know how you could get behind such a thing.

    1. I wholeheartedly support the OWS movement, and if I was her boss, I would’ve fired her too. Pitching a story where you are the subject at a political rally? Honestly she must’ve been out of her mind to think that would fly. Unless you are suggesting that NPR become the liberal version of Fox News, I don’t know how you could get behind such a thing.

      You don’t understand, they are actually more like FOX “News” because they fired her.

      Fox News repeatedly champions itself as fair and balanced, but they purposefully and dishonestly fail at that job miserably.  They have plenty of people that work for Fox News that blatantly call themselves journalists, but they are also blatant liars.  It’s obvious the Fox News “journalists” true agenda is to help support and prop up the pundits through “selective”, dishonest reporting.

      To honestly report on yourself while everyone knows your potential bias.. is, well… HONEST.

      If NPR wants to be more like Fox News, then they should stay on course and continue to fire honest people.  If NPR wants to be less like Fox News, they should simply be more open, transparent and honest.  If NPR found that she was being dishonest in her reporting then that’s one thing, but this is quite another.

  19. Obviously her sign should have said:
    “It may or may not be wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn’t aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon; as a journalist I hold no opinion one way or the other.”

  20. did Hunter S. Thompson not put himself front and center in his stories, and did he not express strong opinions about things?  Was he not a journalist?

    I’m not trolling, I’m honestly asking.

    1. Hunter S. Thompson was a “gonzo” journalist, a term he created because he was actively rebelling against the kind of thing we are talking about here – objectivity. He was so incensed that he found objectivity impossible, which is why we look at him nowadays more as a novelist and figurehead than a real journalist.

      1. Did they actually teach you that Hunter Thompson was not a real journalist in j-school? I’m astounded.

        There is no 21st-century English-language news reporting that is not directly influenced by HST’s approach. He changed the way news is reported.

      2. And that weaselly “we” is a prime example of what I’m arguing about, and what you’re failing to recognize: there’s very little objective about facts when presented as language. There’s no “we” who have one unified opinion about Thompson: you’re parading your own opinion as fact, and, worse, as common knowledge. I can’t speak for him, but do you think a “real” journalist like Matt Taibbi would agree with you? What is a “real” journalist, anyway? One whose practices and politics accord with your fictive “we,” i.e., you (and seemingly only you)?

      3. we look at him nowadays more as a novelist and figurehead than a real journalist.

        Who is “we”?  Oh, you mean you?

        Hunter was a journalist.  But, I don’t know what you are, maybe a troll with an agenda?

  21. Too bad Walter Cronkite was never given “teaching moment”, he could have been completely useless. Think of all the banal stories he could have covered!

  22. Does anyone believe for a minute that any reporter on Fox News is the least bit objective? They still keep their jobs.

  23. I also see a lot of people here with the argument that the conservative media (Fox) shows bias and lack of integrity, so we should too. I can’t agree, when you do that you are preaching to the choir as it were. You certainly won’t change anyone’s mind with that strategy. Journalism should be about reporting the unbiased truth to the best of our ability.

    Obviously no one can be truly unbiased, but the ideal is to be pursued, not abandoned. It’s like, we’re all racist, but a good person recognizes their own bias and tries to become better than that, whereas an ignorant person just gives in to it and feeds it.

    1. So here is an interesting idea. Instead of saying “we should be like Fox” how about we demand Fox provide the same “unbiased truth”?

      I think Rob’s point above is really at the heart of this. “These firings have nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with handwringing jobsworths desperate to avoid accusations of bias which might threaten their sources of funding.”

      Recently a Fox News employee wrote a story that was totally anonymously sourced, factually inaccurate and showed a clear bias against a group of people who worked at ACORN before it disbanded.   The employers were fine with her bias and it didn’t threaten their source of funding.  I could demand Fox provide actual journalism instead of saying, “Oh well that’s Fox”.   Fox wouldn’t handwring because this story won’t reduce their funding. It’s in line with their funders views, so it is fine. The issue of “journalism” ethics only come up when it is in conflict with the over arching views of the funders.

      Fox was fine with their “journalists” being part of the Tea Party because they agreed with what they were about .

      Speaking of “journalists” being parts of the story, was the American Spectator editor fired for infiltrating the Air and Space Museum protest, rushing the guards and then writing about it bragging how he discredited the movement?

    2. I also see a lot of people here with the argument that the conservative media (Fox) shows bias and lack of integrity, so we should too.

      Blatant false argument. No one is saying that at ALL.

      Fox News purports to be fair and balanced and is NOT.  Their reporting is an ongoing series of half-truths and outright lies.

      No one is saying this woman should report half-truth and lies.  AT ALL.  If anything, we want more HONESTY.  If this woman is reporting dishonestly, then let us know… thanks.

      Vast difference there from mimicking Fox News who is the epitome of dishonesty.

  24. I’m not going to pretend to understand the ethics of journalism…

    But I would feel greatly ripped off if that (wonderful) photo was staged.

    Wait a minute, that DOES remind me of the journalistic world I do understand!

  25. There are more important things than impartial media (which in my experience doesn’t exist anyway), namely changing things for the better.

    I think she made the right choice, I just hope she can pay her rent.

  26. Oh and remember, there are always two perfectly equal sides to every story and if they aren’t fabri…I mean remember to be unbiased.

  27. It would seem the “J-school” idea of impartiality would be the more dishonest then. Create the illusion of non partisanship by seemingly removing your personal beliefs from the subject, then ask a series of questions subtlety designed to bring about the response you want (the so called “gotcha” questions). I think what you’re talking about is a very noble Idea, but impossible to realize do to the nature of human beings. Every person/group has an agenda and self interest that cannot help but come through when reporting on an issue that they feel is important… So when journalist attempt this form of “impartiality” It comes across as a silly farce…The only ones they are convincing are themselves.

  28. Her ability to be impartial came in to question the minute she wanted to do a story about herself and her opinions.  In more layman terms it’d be like Oprah interviewing herself to promote a biography she had written…

    If she wanted to do a story about OWS fine, but you can’t just make yourself part of that article because you made a good sign and it got widely publicized.  That isn’t being objective about the story, OWS or showing high levels of professionalism (by not making the article about you).

  29. Actually, media outlets love reporters who are able to write cute little features about their adventures, even on their own beat. It cultivates readership loyalty and is cheap human interest material. What’s different here is the subject matter, and how close the associated political shouting-match cuts to the bone.

    If she went to a ranch and bobbed around on horseback for 10 minutes and got a nice hat and then pitched “How I learned to love cowboy culture” with her as the star, it wouldn’t be an issue. The obvious lack of impartiality, and the self-promotional gloss, would be no problemo. In fact, it would be a good draw to lead readers into any serious component to the piece (the decline of ranching, perhaps, or unemployment among cowboys, or how oil money saved the industry)

    Items like this are produced and run constantly by newspapers and TV affiliates. The cheesy “what I did this summer” featurette is the most abundant and tiresome genre of everyday journalism from reporters wanting to broaden their horizons.

    The point: reporters inserting themselves in the news is commonplace and often desirable, so the fact that it’s undesirable in other contexts (such as politics) needs more explanation than fiat denunciation on vague grounds of “J-school.”

    1. You don’t see the difference between what happened here, and the local TV station’s “warm-and-fuzzy” story reporter putting on a pair of chaps and reporting on some dude ranch?  Seriously?  

      1. “You don’t see the difference between what happened here, and the local TV station’s “warm-and-fuzzy” story reporter putting on a pair of chaps and reporting on some dude ranch?  Seriously?”

        Gideon, you just insisted that “the same thing would have (and has) gotten someone fired if it had involved something completely non-political.” 

        I’m sorry you’re so confused about what you want to say!

    2. Creating fluff pieces with the journalist injected are different than political reporting which the journalist created or actively influenced as a primary subject (and then pitched the story about herself for production). Journalists creating the news beg questions of their objectivity and ultimately lead their audience to lose trust in their ability to report, rather than opine.

  30. I’m a volunteer programmer at KPFK, the Pacifica radio station in Los Angeles. Rather than firing people who participate at Occupy LA, the station has instead set up a permanent tent there, recording the voices of the protestors.

  31. At least in our city (Kansas City), police officers relinquish their right to involve themselves in political campaigns.  I agree, some jobs and/or professions do have certain restrictions on what would otherwise be entirely permissible for others to do.  The key is knowing what you can and can’t do going in.

  32. We on the left were pretty upset in 2009 when Fox News producer Heidi Noonan was caught pumping  up the crowd at the Tea Party’s 9/12 rally:


    According to Fox, she was “a young, relatively inexperienced associate producer
    who realizes she made a mistake and has been disciplined”; I don’t know what that means exactly.

    I have more sympathy for Caitlin Curran — it’s easy for me to believe that the Tea Party was sneakily benefiting from Fox’s corporate sponsorship, and hard for me to believe that OWS benefits from NPR’s sponsorship — but that may just be because I have more sympathy for people who support OWS.

    1. Indeed.  If, when talking about a potential ethics violation, your defender’s responses are basically “But FOX News does it too!”… that might just be a hint that there’s an issue with what you did.

  33. This is why she was fired, really:


    Big media wants to keep its weapons to itself. If the weapons are used in other ways, then big media gets pissed and fights back.

    Let’s not pretend this is really about objective journalism. This is about power, pure and simple. Curran took power into her hands, and her employer whacked her for doing this.

    This is a war. Truth is our weapon.

    (Hmmm, sorry for the inadvertent double-post of the picture. Can’t figure out how to avoid that! :P)

  34. I think that this was the first time one of my posts was censored here. It’s boingboing tho… and I love them anyways.

  35. I keep coming back to the “Don’t fuck over your employer” angle. NPR has long been under fire from right-wingers in Congress for being too liberals/progressive, constituting a threat to NPR’s funding and even existence (no it’s not fair, but that’s how it is). To do something that directly feeds in to that threat to your own employment–and the employment of your co-workers–ain’t exactly playing with the team.

    1. To do something that directly feeds in to that threat to your own employment–and the employment of your co-workers–ain’t exactly playing with the team.

      That’s funny.  I thought the “team” was the American people?  Silly me.

      (This part below isn’t to you, okalokee)

      Man, this thread was getting crazy. The dude(s) with the sockpuppets were forgetting which posts to answer to and began answering for their other sockpuppets by mistake with the wrong sockpuppets. You trolls are losing your touch.

      And, I hate to break it to you, but the more rabid you guys get… the more we know OWS is working. Thank you for your inspiration and thank you for your unwitting efforts to keep more and more Americans dedicated to strengthening the OWS movement. Tony Baloney would be proud and I’m sure he would be thrilled to know I’m dedicating this video link in his name.

  36. Consider the classic journalists at the NYer. Seymour Hersh, John McPhee, Alec Wilkinson. Each may visit OWS to do a story. Each may go in with a certain idea or pov. I agree pure objectivity doesn’t exist. Each would interview and observe. Go deeper into individuals they find interesting or that advances their pov or, as they learn and investigate more, changes their pov. None, I believe, would consider their active participation to be consistent with the observational nature of their profession. Not that they wouldn’t ply a bias in their piece. They’re more artful than that. It’s what separates journalism from op-ed, imo.

    1. If you think Seymour Hersh doesn’t insert himself into his stories, then I think you have’t read much Seymour Hersh.

    2. It’s hard for me to believe that many would be capable of disentangling Sy Hersh’s activism and politics from his journalism, or would even bother trying. He’s a classic example, like Riis, of the work, ethics, politics, all going together hand-in-hand in a single individual.

  37. To those claiming that there is no _complete_ objectivity in journalism… Sure. Few will argue there. But you’re playing on a slippery slope. I support OWS, but I don’t need my news source right there alongside me pumping their fist. I need them to provide me with the facts. If I suspect they are biased, I _will_ seek out other sources I determine to be the next most objective news source (better yet, always use multiple sources). Otherwise, you’re no different than a Fox News patron who is held in such high regard in these parts, just of a different flavor.

  38. I have mixed feelings about whether Curran’s actions constitute a lack of journalistic professionalism, but I do wonder why apparently everyone here who feels she was in the wrong also thinks the firing was justified.

    What if her boss had simply turned down the pitch and explained why?  Considering no story was actually ever produced, why was simply pitching one a firing offense?  Firing someone — depriving them of their livelihood — amidst a lousy job market, no less, is a serious penalty to impose.  Doesn’t that seem drastic for a part-time producer?

  39. Sounds like commenters are missing a detail here. Let’s say it’s inappropriate for a journalist (freelance web producer?) to pitch a story about herself. I would think that should result in the *pitch* getting rejected, not being told you won’t get anymore freelance work from them.

    Then again, temp and freelance jobs are sometimes convenient ways for the owners of the means of production to keep you from getting the consistent treatment that workers used to reasonably expect.

  40. It’s not clear to me that she was taking a political position at all.  She is holding up a sign that is reporting a fact which is clearly true.  She is holding it in a place and time such that people will read it.  She is reporting news.  This is confusing to some people because the place and time she chose is a political event.  Would people call it journalistic bias if she said the same thing into a microphone with a camera pointed at her, even at the same place and time?  What if she phrased it as a question?  I don’t think anyone except the spin machine on the right would call it bias if this was a question asked with a microphone and a camera.  But why does it have to be a question?  Shouldn’t it be a statement, since it is clearly true and she is a journalist? Isn’t her job to report, not to ask?

  41. As I think about it, firing a producer for pitching a show idea — any show idea — seems like the opposite of what you’d want to do.  Teaching producers what you want through the pattern of what ideas you accept and reject seems much more likely to produce a good program that scaring them into self-censorship by firing someone over a single pitch.

    Then again, The Takeaway *is* a terrible show.

  42. Painful lesson for all concerned, she did violate a foundational aspect of journalism. It was probably difficult for her boss to teach it to her. Even if she was for or against OWS is not the issue here. Someone else will hire her….if she learned her lesson.

  43. The day when not allowing rampant financial fraud is a “political viewpoint” is a sad one indeed.

  44. to_berg & Krause:

    Seymour Hersh is going to do a story on the Lord’s Resistance Army. Is he going to carry a rifle and fight alongside them? No.
    Seymour Hersh is going to do a story on the US troops fighting the LRA. Is he going to carry a rifle and fight alongside them? No.

    I clearly allow that journalists like Hersh walk in with an idea or pov. I said “None, I believe, would consider their active participation to be consistent with the observational nature of their profession. Not that they wouldn’t ply a bias in their piece.”

    1. You should check out Hersh’s coverage of Project Jennifer, his involvement in the Mordecai Vanunu case, and his ongoing reporting on Iran’s alleged nuclear program. He is a significant character in all of those stories and others.

      1. I went…I saw…I talked to…is not what I’m talking about. Hersh investigates and exposes. He doesn’t sink Soviet subs and contact the CIA to fish it out for intelligence purposes. He unwraps a story; he isn’t the story. Though I’ll agree when the CIA or other entity finds out someone with Hersh’s juice is nosing around – it probably has a measure of effect on subsequent chain of events – but that’s beside the point here.

  45. The journalistic intergity of this woman is one issue which has been covered here but I feel I must add the rest of her poster.
    Having made these mortgage backed securities that they knew were going to fail these same banksters created credit default swaps so the could cover both ends of the trade and profit from the failure of their first instrument. Kinda like Bernie Madoff on steriods.
    Goldman-Sachs was one of the biggest banksters in this little scam. GS dumped hundreds of millions of this stuff on European banks and are now up to their eyebrows in lawsuits. But business as usual ~ no new regs from Washington. Only money.

    1. There were numerous new regulations.  Some better than others.  Pretty much all of them have been under constant attack by the teapartiers/Republicans since they took over the house. 

  46. I read her piece on Gawker and was impressed by the clarity of her writing. Her most salient point came toward the end, I think, when she implied that new technology is breaking down the old and artificial divide between journalist and citizen. We can’t pretend these people are just saints from the church of information who must remain intellectually celibate in what remains of their private lives.

  47. She didn’t try to make it news. It’s not like she got the picture taken of herself and then before anyone saw it tried to make it a story.

    The picture was taken and spread virally across the internet and became news. She pitched an idea to talk about what was already news every where else. Should the station have just pretended there were not people all over the place talking about this exact same thing?

  48. I find this kind of interesting, because I normally get rankled by, what I perceive to be, the little objectivity remaining in much that I see labeled as journalism.

    This, however, doesn’t really bother me. It seems pretty clear. Murder is bad. Cheating is bad. Stealing is bad. Lieing is generally bad… particularly when it’s to clients with whom you are ethically obligated to not lie to under any circumstances. Why is it bad to say, even as a journalist, that lieing and stealing is wrong? If a democrat or republican lies, it’s wrong. If a banker cheats, lies, and steals from his clients, it’s wrong. I don’t really see much of a bias there. And, who out there will actually tell me, with a straight face, that there’s any doubt that this institutionally backed fraud did not actually happen?

    I’m a pretty conservative guy, fiscally, but there’s no way to spin this any other way than there are an aweful lot of people who need to go to jail for what they knowingly and willingly did.

    Who cares that this lady stated the obvious?

  49. What’s baffling to me about both the article *and* this entire comment thread is that Curran *did not actually run any story* — she merely *pitched* the idea.  As someone way earlier in the thread pointed out, this might be grounds for a raised eyebrow, but not dismissal.  Curran didn’t “violate” any code because she never had a chance to perform an action to which the code applied.

  50. First note that host Hockenberry is quoted as saying about The Takeaway “I really think that, you know, Howard Stern is a model here.” And the little bit the show says about itself on its site includes “be part of the American conversation,” so it seems reasonable that the show would at least dabble in self-referential gonzo journalism. 

    Ms Curran does not seem to have set out to make herself “part of the story,” but her well-written protest sign *became* a story. Pitching a take on that story to The Takeaway seems not only reasonable, but responsible. Imagine that a competing show, like MarketPlace, ran with her story and she *hadn’t* pitched it to The Takeaway?

    So really The Takeaway ends up sounding not like Howard Stern but more like boring morning pablum. No reason for me to listen to it anyway.

  51. Moderator note:  Out of ~250 comments in this thread, 100 were made by four commenters who made more or less the same four comments over and over and over, including one commenter who made essentially the same comment 53 times in three hours.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  52. “When you become a reporter, you forfeit the ability to take a public position. ”

    This just isn’t true. I’ve been a reporter most of my life and no employer ever cared whether I had and expressed opinions in public. These firings have nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with handwringing jobsworths, desperate to avoid accusations of bias, concerned about threats to their sources of funding.

    You’re confusing the objectivity required by newswriting itself with personal impartiality. The latter isn’t required for the former, which is a matter of professional decency and competence. This idea, that pretending not to have opinions is the ne plus ultra of credibility, is almost absurd on its face.

  53. So you don’t see her creating a massive spectacle out of her person opinion as detriment to her appearance of objectivity? You don’t think that that newfound notoriety would adversely effect the way her or her station’s credibility is seen?

  54. What kind of journalist are you Rob? Can you jump into an event and get on camera and then take the footage to your editor and pitch it as a newsworthy idea? 

  55. More likely no employer ever caught you expressing political opinions in public and your expression of political opinion were never seen by millions of people. The fact that you’ve gotten away with it does not mean it’s OK.

    If you’re a reporter — and particularly if you’re a political or business reporter — why don’t you go ask your boss what would happen if you were photographed carrying a sign like that on OWS and it got published in a widely read publication or Internet forum? Trust me, you’d be penalized. It’s one thing to just tell some friends and relatives what you really think. It’s another thing when a large segment of your audience finds out.

    It’s not even about whether you can express a strong personal opinion and yet keep that out of your reporting. It’s about whether your newspaper’s readers will trust you afterward — and thus, whether your reporting will be of any use to your employer if your reputation for impartiality can be questioned EVEN A LITTLE.

  56. But there is a difference between having an opinion and voicing that opinion with the intention of making a new story about voicing that opinion.

  57. Yeah, she can’t be trusted because she went to her bosses about a story and was totally up front.

    Uh huh.

    The more false details you add to the story Kent, the worse your side of this argument looks.

  58. And if they want to stay journalists, they’ll keep those opinions to themselves. We know unconscious bias probably comes through anyway in subtle ways.  An openly biased and opinionated journalist cannot be relied upon to tell the unvarnished truth. Period

    At first I thought you were being sarcastic, but then I slowly realized the sad, unvarnished truth… some of you just have totally different mindsets that desire to live in an impractical, unrealistic world.

    I would much rather read news reports from honest and open journalists than from those journalists that attempt to conceal their honest opinions at all costs.

    I will allow my own critical thinking skills and ability to cross-check facts to be my judge of whether they are honestly reporting on stories or not.

    As a matter of fact, I think it’s much more honest and ethical to be upfront about your opinions no matter who you are in this world; especially if you are a journalist or other public figure.

    Keep playing charades all you want… reality is still knocking.

  59. Military members are allowed to criticize the president. There is a punishment, but the right is not rescinded, and also, there are benefits and pay involved, as well as constitutional offices.

    And when you are in the military, your job is to protect the rights of people like this reporter, not be used to deny them, like what you’re doing with our soldiers. When out of uniform, you’re a civillian.

    Listen, you’re a cynical screw. It’s an american tradition, as is making shit up. But just now you happen to be deeply incorrect, and blowing more smoke in each post.

    So again, Kent, what’s your angle? Why are you chumming the waters with incorrect facts about this case, and changing the topic whenever you’re contradicted? What is your goal?

  60. You trust NPR to do that? Wow.

    My amazement would stand if you expressed that belief of any news organization on the planet.

    Key word in your comment: “image.” It’s all image. Not truth.

    Humans. Are. Not. Objective. Hell, Plato knew that and he wrote over 2,500 years ago. You may approach truth. You will never get there. And if you’re trusting other people to get there for you…well. I’m not entirely sure what to say about that at the moment, other than: news is probabalistic.

    You said it yourself: NPR fired her to protect its image. Image ≠ Reality.And I listen to NPR every day.

  61. Why would anyone ever trust a journalist to be unbiased in their work? They aren’t, and the bias that comes through is subtle only to the extent that you willfully ignore it. To insist that “reputable news agencies” report “nothing but the facts” is inviting yourself to be misled.

  62. I missed that detail the first time. I thought she’d both joined the movement and reported on it because she thought it was important, and happened to be caught on camera by a third party. But if she placed herself in the crowd with a placard and then used that image to represent the crowd’s intent, yeah, that’s bad form.

  63. “Objective facts do not properly exist in human societies” =/= “nothing really matters”: the latter is your false, equivocal, scurrilous statement. Mine was the other one.

    If you’re going to make love to the mouldering corpse of “objective” journalism, at least bother to get your fucking facts correct, and try not to too blatantly misquote. You know . . . like they taught you in J-school.

  64. Like when he based his famous soliloquy on Obama’s Health Care plan, which he described as “the fight of life against death,” on his own narrative of his father’s illness and death? That wasn’t somehow participating in the story?

    You could stop before you embarrass yourself further.

  65. You didn’t miss anything, Rudypeev and a few others are muddling the story.

    She went to the demonstration with her boyfriend, she held the sign for a few minutes because her boyfriend was tired, a photographer who didn’t know neither her nor the boyfriend took the picture, the picture went viral and the original author saw it and wrote an article.

    If I understand correctly the pitched story was the sign originating from an article, then going viral and coming back to the author, not “I went there.”

  66. NO her mistake was jumping into the protest to pump up the story. That’s a no-no.

    Rudypeev, you’ve exhibited yourself as someone with moral personal authority on this matter and now you’ve also just delivered your condescending “no-no” to her from on-high.

    I wonder, what makes you feel like you’re the arbiter of good ethics here?  Do you have any personal experience in these matters or are you just blowing your own hot air agenda because you hate the OWS and what it stands for?

    Please be honest.  It’s the ethical thing to do.

  67. A journalist who kept their mouth shut wouldn’t be much of a journalist. Whether or not they’re blatant about it, those beliefs still come through.

  68. No, hopefully today she learned what she should have been taught in j-school.

    Yes, that her boss would end up being a spineless, status quo, doucheberry if she ended up working for a corporatist mainstream publication that puts corporate interests above the public interest.

  69. Was that suppose to be a counterpoint? or are you just exercising your skills at pointing out the obvious?

  70. Not allowed? Not allowed by whom? Kamala Harris is DA of San Francisco, and she is opposed to the death penalty. Her office’s stated policy is that they will review capital cases on a case-by-case basis. There is no blanket ban on capital cases being brought by the SF DA.

    You keep making these wild-ass assertions about policies of various municipalities. You can actually just look these things up.

  71. District attorneys against the death penalty are not allowed to argue capital cases. So no. You are wrong.

    How quaint…  You moved the goal posts.  Sorry, pal…  Those trite tactics don’t work on me.  You’re not smart enough.

    Here’s what you actually said that I replied to:

    Representing or reporting on the political process means keeping your political life private.  Journalists, judges and district attorneys follow this ethical guideline.

    And, so… reread my response to you again.

    As anyone can see by the clear examples I gave (with sources, mind you), you’re wrong and I proved you wrong.

    Move the goal posts and you’re still wrong and a troll.

  72. Not quite right. The voices of the protestors might very well include volunteers from KPFK, though that’s not the purpose of what they are doing at the tent. There’s no prohibition against participating at Occupy LA. As the program director told me, if that were the case he’d have to get rid of half the programmers.

  73. It might matter to the “appearance” of objectivity, but appearances are subjective. The professional work either meets some applied standard of objectivity, or it doesn’t – were the right people interviewed? Are the full range of facts adequately presented? Did you research claims enough to separate facts from opinions without advocating a position? 

    But trying to make ethical standards out of how you “appear” to people outside the work is futile. This is for many reasons, not least how hard image control is in general. Perhaps the “reporter sphinx” strategy might once have been the given wisdom for maintaining the necessary distance and credibility, but it doesn’t work anymore. Perhaps it’s because no-one trusts people who are conspicuously closeted or unforthcoming. Perhaps it’s because it means you can’t get close enough to anyone or anything to write credibly about it. 

    The act of hiding one’s opinions no longer looks like a professional virtue in the age of twitter, but a disinterest in transparency. And all the while, we’re assuming that reporters are any good at being politically closeted (and they aren’t! at all!), even if it doesn’t necessarily come out in the form of activism. So we end up with endless Kremlinology aimed at this or that media outlet anyway.

    More practically, when you write something someone doesn’t like, they’ll become adversaries no matter how you appear. The work itself is enough to get the ball rolling. This is why the sort of editors and producers who would fire (or be forced to fire) Caitlin know that they are losers. Alas, the two traditional ways out that used to live in their drawers — a bottle of scotch and a revolver — are also no longer available to them.

  74. The paradigms of old school journalism are falling apart in the age of twitter, but there is a not so subtle nuance between going through the trouble to be as impartial as one can (or only give the appearance of, if that’s the immediate interpretation in our age of skepticism) and being an outright cheerleader. There is a distinction and it does matter.

  75. More likely no employer ever caught you expressing political opinions in public and your expression of political opinion were never seen by millions of people.

    I’ll be sure to notify you when I’ve been seen by enough people for your notions of journalistic ethics to apply!

  76. I am not blowing hot air agenda. I’m explaining ethics, because yes it IS the ethical thing to do.

    Hmm… you dodged my question about how much you despise the OWS movement.

    Dishonesty isn’t ethical, Rudypeev.  I wish you would refrain from “explaining ethics” to everyone else until you learn about them yourself.

  77. “Hmm… you dodged my question about how much you despise the OWS movement.”

    Nice straw man.

  78. Firing is an over-reaction, and it frequently is.  There are plenty of other things they could have done on the spectrum of responses ranging from nothing on one end to firing on the most extreme other end.  For example, her manager could have let loose on her then sent her home for a week without pay, or just made her sit on a stool in the corner of the newsroom/breakroom wearing a hat saying “I suggested something that if we had actually done it might possibly have turned into a fuck-up.” Or (my personal favorite) simply say no and explain why that’s not a good idea.

    Getting fired can be the equivalent of the economic death penalty, depending on a person’s circumstances, and she doesn’t deserve that. The internal pressures in the extended NPR affiliate network must be tremendous if they’re thinking firing was a good idea.

  79. NPR’s ethics code is publicly available.  Same with most major news organizations.  He may not know what they expect, but some of us do.  Either from first hand experience, or simply from reading it before wading into this gigantic heap of wrong.  

  80. Who expects this? It seems that a lot of commenters here do not expect journalists to feign impartiality. You’re reciting the rules of the game as they have been for the last 30 years, not some profound truism about journalistic integrity. It’s an argument from authority.

  81. Indeed, it’s right here: http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/ethics/ethics_code.html

    Notably, it doesn’t say that producers must not insert themselves into a story. 

    It does say that the appropriate response for an ethics violation is to kill the story, not fire the producer.

    Implying that Curran was fired by NPR, or that she was fired for violating NPR’s ethics code, is a misstatement.

  82. Nice straw man.

    Nope.  Go back a reread the thread.

    I asked a very direct question and it was dodged by Rudypeev who has very directly purported to be the arbiter of ethics multiple times throughout this thread.

    As a self-proclaimed arbiter of ethics, Rudypeev should at least be honest and admit his agenda (which is obvious to everyone except sockpuppets apparently).

  83. No, it is not. It is method that accepts and incorporates the inherent subjectivity of the journalistic process in pursuit of objectivity. In other words, gonzo journalism puts all its cards on the table so you know where the author is coming from. 

    Read a little about what actual journalists (and journalism professors) have to say about Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. It’s a seminal work.

  84. Making a pitch shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal. Saying “no, that pitch is unacceptable” is a perfectly valid response; the two options should not be “Pitch accepted” and “You’re fired!”

  85.  > the two options should not be “Pitch accepted” and “You’re fired!”

    Laugh out loud over that one.  Well said.

  86. Again, NPR was not involved in this story. Curran was fired by a news director at WNYC. I have no direct knowledge of the quality of WNYC’s journalistic endeavors, but rumor is that they’re not good.

    Further, no one has alleged that Curran was biased in her news reporting. She merely pitched a story in which she herself was a character, which, as many commenters have demonstrated, is quite common under a variety of circumstances. 

    But in any case, the story she pitched was never undertaken, and it appears that you have no other materials by which to judge Ms. Curran’s impartiality or lack thereof.

  87. Well, I wouldn’t call it a tangent, since the contention was that Curran had been fired for violating NPR’s code of ethics. 

    a) She was not working for NPR

    b) No one has indicated the specific way in which this code of ethics was violated (beyond your admonition to “read it more clearly,” a common Internet dodge by those who hope no one will check). Perhaps you could assist me in reading more clearly by quoting the section of NPR’s ethics code that Curran violated.

    c) According to NPR’s code of ethics (which obviously weren’t applied here), the correct response would have been to kill the story.

  88. You would lose all trust in her stories for like a day. Then you’d have forgotten her name like everyone else. I’m only a hundred comments in and can’t remember her name. Get over yourself. 

  89. If she said the same thing in the same place speaking into a camera, would it be wrong to pitch it to her senior producers as a possible feature?  Also, since when is one fired (let go) for making a pitch?  That’s a hideous precedent.  If she was fired for making a pitch, we have a much bigger problem.  The journalistic integrity, participating in politics thing is arguable.  But if she was fired for pitching an idea, then the person doing the firing needs to be fired as a threat to journalistic integrity.  A news source where the employees are fired over their suggestions is not a news source at all.

  90. Wow! So you think there is an ethical violation involved if journalists go to an OWS event to cover the news and report on a financial scam of concern to the OWS protesters?  You’re really saying journalists should not be allowed to even report on those issues?  And further, you’re saying it is wrong for them to even discuss covering those issues with their colleagues?

Comments are closed.