Heather Porter, Professional Development Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 204, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alyson Ahrns, SPJ Communications Department, (317) 927-8000, ext. 200, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to honor Glen Mabie with its annual Ethics in Journalism Award.
Mabie has reflected SPJ’s passion for ethical journalism in many ways throughout his career, but his brightest reflection occurred the week of Jan. 7, 2008, when Mabie resigned from his position as news director at WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wis.
His resignation was prefaced by a personal ethical dilemma concerning paid news coverage. The general manager at WEAU-TV and the top marketing and communications person at the area’s Sacred Heart hospital negotiated an agreement under which the hospital would pay an undisclosed amount to the station to do two “health news” segments a week. These segments were to be broadcast as part of the station’s regular newscasts, and the reporters were only to interview Sacred Heart employees as part of the “news coverage.” Mabie protested this agreement but could not get management to cancel the deal. Mabie submitted his resignation a week later and made no public announcement of his departure. In the end, the station’s management decided to end its deal with Sacred Heart.
“I believe that Mabie’s willingness to draw a line in the sand and to stand up for his ethical principles regardless of the personal cost is a perfect fit for the criteria set out for the SPJ Ethics in Journalism Award,” University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor David Gordon wrote in his nomination letter. “He has set an example for broadcast journalists in this area and, by honoring him with this award, SPJ can make journalists throughout the country more aware of the stand he took at a considerable personal cost.”
Mabie said that winning this award is not only an honor, but also “a reminder of the strong code of ethics to which journalists adhere. It was evident in the actions of the news staff of WEAU, who really share in this award, and the reactions of reporters, editors and producers in newsrooms around the nation.”
The Ethics in Journalism Award honors reporters, editors or news organizations that distinguish themselves for performing in an outstanding ethical manner as defined by the SPJ Code of Ethics.
Mabie will be recognized Saturday, Sept. 6 during a banquet at the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Atlanta. To learn more about the event, visit www.spj.org/convention.asp.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.