OLD Media Moves

Ask the ethics guy

April 10, 2006

Bruce Weinstein, who writes a weekly ethics column that is syndicated by Knight-Ridder, recently held a Q&A with Terry Keenan, a business correspondent and anchor of “Cashin’ In” on the Fox News Channel.

Terry KeenanOne particular question, and answer, is of interest to all business journalists:

“Q. What have you observed in business or business journalism that was legally permissible but unethical?

“A. Given the possible temptations that come with access to sensitive corporate information, the ethical standards of business journalists are extremely high. Rather, most of the lapses in the field have resulted from journalists not being cynical enough about how they might be being “used” by their sources and TV guests. This was rampant in the dot-com days when analysts and dot-com executives would tout their stocks with little in the way of tough reporting. Enron executives routinely told their tales to print and television journalists with nary a skeptical question in sight.

“For the most part what these analysts and executives did was legally permissible, but in some cases wildly unethical. The same is true when an analyst or hedge fund manager touts a stock he owns and then sells it as the public comes in to buy – probably not illegal, but certainly unethical. The ethical business journalist needs to have his radar out for these ploys.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

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