The SOJC’s spring ethics events kicked off with a full-day celebration on April 20 with the presentation of the Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism and the 2011 Ruhl Lecture with Jere Van Dyk. On May 19, the two-day 2011 John L. Hulteng Conversations in Ethics conference began with “Why Talk Radio Skews Right” at the UO Portland, followed by “Fact in the Age of Truthiness,” two panel discussions in Eugene, on May 20. Read, listen, and watch the highlights!

Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism

Nearly 100 journalists gathered in the Gumwood room at the EMU to support the Payne Awards winners at the presentation luncheon and hear the panel discussion led by Tom Bivins, the SOJC’s John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics. Bill Yardley of The New York Times’ Seattle bureau accepted the 2011 Payne award for the paper’s handling of controversial material released by Julian Assange on the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website in 2010, including classified government documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as U.S. State Department diplomatic cables. Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in Ferriday, La. accepted the Payne Award for his investigation into the murder of Frank Morris, a black Ferriday businessman, in 1964. The murder had been ignored by law enforcement for more than 40 years.

The staff of the student Yale Daily News also earned a special citation for its coverage of a Yale student’s high-profile suicide in March of 2010. Paul Needham, editor of the Yale Daily News, was present to accept the award. New York Times Photographer Damon Winter received a special citation for his work documenting the devastation and death in the aftermath of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake—a situation which NYT Lens co-editor David Dunlap described as one requiring journalists “to invent a code of ethics on the spot.”

“The value of journalism is determined by the degree to which the work informs communities large and small,” said Tim Gleason, Edwin L. Artzt Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication. “While it’s true that technology gives all of us a platform to publish, what really defines journalism are the standards by which ethical journalists inform the public—standards such as editorial autonomy, accountability, compassion, and truth telling. This year’s Payne Award winners exemplify a passionate commitment to the journalist’s obligation to seek and report the truth.”

Listen to interviews with the 2011 Payne Awards winners

Watch the video of the 2011 Payne Awards

Ruhl Lecture

Author and journalist Jere Van Dyk presented the School of Journalism and Communication’s 2011 Ruhl Lecture, “Prisoner of the Taliban,” in the EMU ballroom to a crowd of more than 100. Van Dyk, a 1968 graduate of the UO, an American journalist and author, was researching a book in Afghanistan when he was captured by the Taliban in February 2008 and spent forty-five days in captivity, an ordeal chronicled in his book Captive: Prisoner of the Taliban (Times Books: 2010), discussed his ordeal during the Ruhl Lecture.

Watch the video recording of the 2011 Ruhl Lecture

John L. Hulteng Conversations in Ethics

Day one of the 2011 John L. Hulteng Conversations in Ethics conference, titled “Why Talk Radio Skews Right” began with a live broadcast of OPB’s “Think Out Loud,” hosted by Emily Harris. Harris’ show dealt with subjects diverse as “Public Art on Your Phone,” immunization issues in the Northwest, and, finally “Is College Worth It?” in response to a recent Pew Research Report.

Thursday’s program was hosted by Peter Laufer, the SOJC’s James Wallace Chair in Journalism, and Al Stavitsky, the SOJC’s senior associate dean and Turnbull Center director. Following “Think out Loud,” conference participants were treated to a lively debate between syndicated talk show host Lars Larson (who calls his right-of-center show “Your Dog in the Fight”) and veteran war correspondent Terry Phillips, former host of “Quality of Life,” an interview/call-in show airing on NPR stations in Central California, who was fired after writing an opinion piece critical of inappropriate sponsor influence on program content.

The program represented “a diverse range of opinions and ideas … and a sampling of the entire spectrum of practitioners in the talk radio business,” Laufer said. Laufer and Stavitsky, who both have experience as radio talk show hosts, led a lunchtime panel discussion featuring Emily Harris; Bicoastal Media CEO Ken Dennis, whose company’s stations include KPNW-AM in Eugene, which broadcasts Rush Limbaugh, Lars Larson, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage; Drew University professor Scott Bonn, whose recent book “Mass Deception” analyzes communication methods used after 9/11 and during the U.S. invasion of Iraq; former Clear Channel Program Director John Scott, who managed both the company’s right-wing and left-wing talk stations in San Francisco; and University of West Florida professor Randy Bobbitt, whose book “Us Against Them” analyzes talk radio trends.

Ethicists and Media Scholars continued the discussion of journalism ethics on day two of Hulteng Conversations in Ethics, held Friday, May 20 on the UO campus in Eugene. “Fact in the Age of Truthiness,” a program hosted by Tom Bivins, the SOJC’s John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics, included two panels. Participants in the 10:00 a.m. panel, “Exactly what is the place of opinion in news journalism?” included Bivins; Michael R. Fancher, executive editor of The Seattle Times for 20 years and a 2008-2009 Donald W. Reynolds Fellow in the Missouri School of Journalism; Lee Wilkins, a Curator’s Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri; and Michael Huntsberger, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, Linfield College.The 11:00 a.m. panel, “Can We Handle the Truth?” featured SOJC graduate students Ed Madison, Jacob Dittmer, Staci Tucker, Lauren Bratslavsky, and Karen Estlund.

About the events:

The Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism recognize journalists who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to ethical conduct, even when faced with economic, personal or political pressure. Ancil Payne, a legend in Seattle broadcasting, established the Payne Awards at the School of Journalism and Communication in 1999 “to reward performance that inspires public trust in the media.” Payne, who died in October 2004, was former CEO of KING Broadcasting; under his leadership, the company developed a national reputation for its commitment to ethical journalism. Judges for the 2011 Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism were Professor Tom Bivins, John L. Hulteng Chair of Media Ethics, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication; Peter Bhatia, Editor, The Oregonian; David Boardman, Executive Editor, The Seattle Times; Joann Byrd, retired Editorial Page Editor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Everette Dennis, Felix E. Larkin Distinguished Professor, Fordham University School of Business; Drex Heikes, Editor, LA Weekly; Peggy Kuhr, Dean, The University of Montana School of Journalism; Mark Zusman, Editor, Willamette Week; and Tim Gleason, Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

The Robert and Mabel Ruhl Endowment, which has supported an annual Ruhl Lecture at the School of Journalism and Communication since 1974, was established by Mabel W. Ruhl, Robert’s widow, to “foster mutually beneficial contact between the School of Journalism and Communication and the mass media.” It honors Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert W. Ruhl, who was for many years one of Oregon’s most respected newspaper journalists. Ruhl, who died in 1967, was editor and publisher of the Medford Mail Tribune. He performed his duties with a high sense of responsibility to the public and with uncompromising ethics. In one instance, he wrote a series of editorials against a government reform group that was inciting unrest in the area. The paper’s editorials won the 1934 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished and meritorious public service.

The John L. Hulteng Conversations in Ethics is an annual event that brings together students, professionals, and the public for an informed discussion of the ethical issues of the day as they pertain to the media and their constituencies. They event pays tribute to former SOJC Dean and Professor John L. Hulteng, who set standards of journalism ethics that remain intact today. His book The Messenger’s Motives: Ethical Problems of the News Media (1976) was one of the first journalism textbooks to address ethics and has become a staple in the field. During his time in Oregon, Hulteng was instrumental in shaping the future of both the Oregon newspaper industry and the School of Journalism itself.