Letter to the Editor: Protess case proves reporter-source bond

It was amusing to see a college professor lecturing about how journalists must be careful to maintain a professional distance in their relationships with sources in Brain Rosenthal’s fine piece “In Focus: Investigative Journalism Students Used Questionably Ethical Reporting Tactics, Sources Say” [May 4] so soon after the White House Correspondents Dinner reminded us of how far away from that ethical standard the fourth estate has wandered.

Nowadays, members of the Washington Press Corps socialize with their sources, sometimes marry their sources, appear weekly on TV roundtables alongside their sources, go to work for their sources and then return to journalism with no one questioning their ethics. The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Newsday are just a few of many newspapers who have compromised journalistic ethics to serve their owners’ financial interests. Fox News thrives by rejecting any notion of ethics. TV Networks are the business partners with the owners of sports they supposedly cover.

Northwestern’s investigative journalists now are having their ethics questioned only because they labored on the side of the powerless against the powerful and in so doing made the powerful look bad. If journalists serve the needs of the ruling class, they never face such questions.

-Charley McKenna

Medill Class of 1975