The Missoulian Throws Journalistic Integrity Out the Window to Fat-Shame Mayor

by lizard

I may take issue with other bloggers from time to time, but that won’t stop me from celebrating a great post when I read one, and Don at Intelligent Discontent continues writing excellent media criticism as we watch journalistic standards steadily declining.

The post is titled Fat Shaming and Rumor Mill Reporting in the Missoulian. Go read it. Don does a superb job excoriating the paper and its reporter for using one source, an attorney who complained about changes to the city’s health plan on social media, to construct a hit-piece against the Mayor for being overweight.

Here is the gist of Don’t criticism:

Online gossip is simply insufficient to justify the story, unless the Missoulian plans to start making speculation on social media a legitimate source for its reporting. Even a brief look at the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics suggests this story should not have been run as it violates standards for sourcing, responsibility, and pandering. And it sets an incredibly dangerous precedent: just who gets to use the Missoulian to air their personal grievances and speculation about public figures? Just attorneys in the town? Anyone with a Twitter account? Or just people who love the reporting?

There was another story the Missoulian ran recently with a questionable source. It was too close to home for me to write about, but it made me realize how low the Missoulian is willing to go to stoke controversy for clicks.

And when the reporting is this awful, media critics like Don will take the bait and draw attention to it, creating more clicks. I think it’s important to track the decline of corporate papers like the Missoulian, but we should realize we are actually helping to create more traffic for a paper willing to throw ethics and standards out the window.

  1. People STOP buying the Missoulian, quit looking at the website…then they might get the picture that Missoulians want better reporting, better standards. If you don’t hurt them in their pocketbook it won’t mean a thing.

  1. 1 The State of the Fourth Estate | Intelligent Discontent

    […] the wake of “fat shaming” blog posts and criticism of the Montana media, two items caught my […]

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