A look at Dohn and journalistic ethics

Brian Dohn has annoyed me before, but never as much as today, when he wrote: (emphasis mine)

I always thought DeWayne Walker should be the guy because he is bright, he loves to compete, he relates well to the players and he has a son their age, he wants to be in SoCal, he understands the intricacies involved in recruiting to UCLA and he has proven he can hire a very good defensive staff, because he's done that. And he has a great personality to give sound bites and make people feel interested during an interview.

Sure, every sports reporter has sources they go to for good quotes, but that doesn't mean those sources are more qualified for certain jobs.

Since I was ticked off and Menelaus mentioned me by name in the intro of his post, I decided to analyze Dohn's journalistic ethics by using the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics (the SPJ is highly regarded among many journalists). I read Dohn regularly, but not as closely as many of you on here, so feel free to point out specific cases where Dohn's journalism ethics have been questionable.

I'm going to blockquote parts of the Code of Ethics, then put my thoughts below them.

-Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

Naming a coach you'd prefer is a huge conflict of interest, no matter who it is, when you're a beat writer for a team and covering the coaching search story. That's obvious.

- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable

He clearly didn't do that with Dorrell.

- Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
- Always question sources' motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

Obviously, reporters need to use anonymous sources sometimes to report news. But Dohn seems to do this more than the other UCLA reporters.

- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

Dohn seems to mix commentary and reporting on his blog. Most readers should be able to tell the difference, but some won't.

It wasn't that long ago that I thought very highly of Dohn. But Dohn fell victim to something that happens to many writers who cover one team for a long time. They become friends with the coaches, players and other people in the program, and form an emotional attachment to them which kills objectivity.

Full disclosure: I'm guilty of this too. I was Gary Adams' biggest fan at UCLA, and never wanted to see him retire. Then I covered the baseball team last year and realized how wrong I was. I still say Adams is one of the best human beings I have ever met, but he wasn't as good at winning baseball games as he should've been. Sometimes, you learn the hard way. But you would think a professional reporter should've learned that by now.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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