Media professionals debate ethics in journalism at Troy State symposium

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2000

Staff Writer

Ethics in journalism was the topic of the 2000 spring symposium, Journalism in the New Century: Shaking the Foundation, sponsored by the Hall School of Journalism at Troy State University yesterday.

Professional journalist from the print and broadcast fields, and two TSU journalism students shared their views on the increase in the use of technology and how it affects the ethical issues of reporting.

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"What you write affects people’s lives," said Craig Pittman, panelist and TSU alumnus. "It could cost someone their job so you should always be sure your facts are right."

Pittman graduated from Troy State in 1981, and has been a reporter for 20 years. He was a part of the team of reporters who uncovered the sex and money scandal involving the Rev. Henry Lyons and the National Baptist Convention USA, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1998.

Eric Burkett, TSU student and co-editor of the Tropolitan, TSU school newspaper, agreed with Pittman about the importance of ethic in journalism.

"If your stick with ethics, values and reporting the truth, you will come out on top," Burkett said.

Pittman was joined on the panel by other professionals including Angie Wyatt, 1991 graduate of TSU. Wyatt is currently a professional anchor and reporter.

While spending some of her professional career as a freelance reporter and producer, Wyatt would file reports from deep in the Amazon jungle and from 18,000 feet on top of a mountain. Her greatest feat and most memorable moment to date is jumping 10,000 feet from a helicopter to help raise money for AIDS research.

Sherry Robinson, metro editor of the St. Petersburg Times, and Jody Hassett, producer for ABC News, were other professionals who were part of the symposium panel, and Desmond Wingard, TSU-TV news director, joined Burkett in representing Troy State.

The symposium began with a reception outside the Adams Center Theater, where students and panelists had an opportunity to meet. After the reception, Dr. Steven Padgett, dean of the Hall School of Journalism, began the symposium with opening remarks and introduced TSU Provost Owen Elder, who welcomed the panelists and students to the symposium.

TSU journalism professor Rick Kenney served as moderator for the symposium.

The symposium was sponsored iby Jean’s Flowers, Brooks Furniture and a grant from the Alabama Press Association.