Hey, this is credible information

Note this on your calendar:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (April 8, 2009) - In today's world of 24-hour access to information, the need for credible, fair reporting is more important than ever.

The Society of Professional Journalists will observe Ethics Week, April 27-May 1, by hosting a series of town hall meetings focused on restoring journalistic credibility by helping readers, viewers, listeners and Web site visitors understand what credible journalism is.

The East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists has been selected as one of 10 chapters across the country to host one of these meetings, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30 in the Toyota Auditorium of the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville. The Baker Center is cosponsoring the event.

The meeting will begin with a discussion about citizen journalism, bloggers, and reader comments on Web sites. As more and more media businesses cut their news staffs, editors and news directors may rely on citizen journalists to fill vacancies or to provide first-hand accounts of events. However, do these citizen journalists operate under the same ethical guidelines as trained journalists? Bloggers and Web site visitors often comment on popular issues and stories presented in the news, which can blur the line between factual information and opinions.

SPJ's large and diverse membership consistently identifies ethics as one of the organization's most important missions. The SPJ Code of Ethics, first adopted in 1926, is an industry standard. One element of the code is to "invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct."

During the town hall meeting, the audience is encouraged to ask questions about how local stories are covered and the decision making process of editors and reporters as they go about their jobs of covering and presenting the news.

The panel will include Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel; Bill Shory, WBIR-TV news director; Michael Grider, VolunteerTV.com interactive producer; and Glenn Reynolds, UT law professor and founder of Instapundit.com. Marianna Spicer, CNN's executive editor for news standards, will moderate the program.

For more information, call East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalist President Mia Rhodarmer at (423) 337-7101 or e-mail editor@advocateanddemocrat.com