Wis State Journal Commits Huge Ethics Violation: Reprints Article from WCIJ on Raw Milk, But Edits Out Key Line | Wis.Community

Wis State Journal Commits Huge Ethics Violation: Reprints Article from WCIJ on Raw Milk, But Edits Out Key Line

On Monday, I read an article from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ), about the raw milk issue. I'm usually a big fan of the WCIJ's articles, but found that this article was somewhat one-sided and failed to mention two key points:  that the chance of dying from drinking raw milk is less than getting struck by lightning and that when milk pasteurization laws were first passed, bacteria-inhibiting refrigeration was not commonplace like it is today.

The article did, however, have a line at the end of the third paragraph that at least alluded to these key points when it said:

For Wickert, this bill is about having the freedom to live without interference from the government. But for health officials in America’s Dairyland, it’s about potentially exposing unsuspecting citizens to disease-causing bacteria. At the crux of this debate is the age-old question: How much should government protect its citizens from possible hazards?

However, this morning when  I read the same article in the Wisconsin State Journal, the same paragraph was presented this way:

For Wickert, this bill is about having the freedom to live without interference from the government. But for health officials in America’s Dairyland, it’s about potentially exposing unsuspecting citizens to disease-causing bacteria.

The final sentence from that paragraph was mysteriously missing.  In addition, there was no disclosure from the State Journal that they had edited this line-- the most important line-- from the article. 

The crux of this debate IS how much the government should protect its citizens from possible hazards.  At least the original article alluded to this key point.  Usually when someone says "the crux is..." that should be a pretty good indicator that it is important and should not be deleted.

This is why there is a standard ethical practice of reprinting articles and columns in their entirety-- or telling the reader that what they are reading has been edited from the original.  Imagine the firestorm if the State Journal took out a key line from one of George Will's columns.  The reader has an expectation that what they are reading is the ALL of what the writer intended to convey to reader. 

To say the least, the State Journal has reached a new low: Not only can they not report the news accurately, the can't even reprint articles from others that are at least attempting to present the news accurately. 

 

Published

June 29, 2011 - 10:15am

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