Stephen J. A. Ward

Stephen J. A. Ward is an internationally recognized media ethicist, author and educator. He is ethics adviser/lecturer at the University of British Columbia, Courtesy Professor at the University of Oregon, and founding director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin.

by Stephen J. A. Ward

2014 brought us the year of My Journalism Ethics. It was the year that “personalizing” journalism ethics went mainstream. Big time. Major journalism associations, from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to the Online News Association (ONA) grappled with the problem of writing ethical guidelines for an increasingly personalized, opinionated, and politically biased media sphere. […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

Having attended recently a number of journalism and media conferences, I sat there — at times surprised and at other times frustrated — by conservative attitudes among some legacy journalists, both old and young. Despite all the changes in our media world, these attitudes still influence, even if they no longer dominate, professional journalism culture. […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

How should we reconstruct journalism ethics now that a media revolution has left a pre-digital, professional consensus in fragments? That appears to be the question for ethicists and journalists who care about ethics. Yet the question is contested. Some journalists are skeptical about any attempt to forge a new practice-wide consensus on aims and principles. […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

The creation of a global and open media ecology that is online and offline, as well as professional and amateur, has undermined a prior professional consensus on the content of journalism ethics. There is scarcely a principle or concept that is not up for debate, from who is a journalist to whether reporters should be […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

Ironically, journalists -— a group normally reluctant to theorize —- are today up to their ears in definitions, a favorite activity of philosophers. For some time, journalists and their associations have been trying anxiously to define “journalist” and “journalism” as a media revolution blurs the differences between professional journalists and citizens. I have some bad […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

This an opinion post by correspondent Stephen Ward. Transparency, according to optimistic accounts, is the answer to bad government and wrongdoing by corporations and news media. Let the “sunshine” of transparency enter the public domain and watch these evil forces retreat. Transparency — monitoring how agencies operate — goes back to the trumpeting of “publicity” […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

Talk of media revolution is so ubiquitous that we sometimes become inured to the force of what we say. We nod our head in agreement that change is everywhere, but we fail to think through the consequences of change. During my public talks, I note that many people accept the fact of media revolution but […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

Here are some questions to test your view about the importance of media ethics. In developing countries, where news media struggle to survive, how relevant is talk of ethics? When economic and political problems stagger news media, is it worthwhile to talk principles and ideal aims? Here are two views. Hard-nosed, realist view: Ethics comes […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

Trust “is perhaps the most important asset public broadcasting carries forward into evolving public media future,” writes Byron Knight. Knight should know. He’s had a long career in public broadcasting. Now, he is co-director of the Editorial Integrity for Public Media Project, a ground-breaking attempt to define public media’s principles for a digital age. Leading […] more »

by Stephen J. A. Ward

In response to the rapidly changing media environment, many schools and academic programs are offering novel approaches to journalism education. This seismic change creates tensions within programs, especially when it comes to how to teach ethics for this increasingly mixed media. In an earlier column, I put forward some principles for teaching ethics amid this […] more »