Podcast: Pitt News Editor Details Investigation, Ethics Flare-Up That Led to a Staffer’s Firing

Late last week, I chatted with Amy Friedenberger, editor-in-chief of The Pitt News, one of the country’s top student newspapers.

The paper recently earned attention and plaudits for its investigation of a top-secret student society at the University of Pittsburgh.  The investigation also indirectly led to some internal editorial strife and a tough decision for Friedenberger that ultimately involved removing a staffer from his position.

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As I previously posted, the Druids is a nearly century old uber-secret student organization at Pitt whose members at times wear creepy robes and wield “a disproportionate amount of political power.”  In the midst of a spirited, comprehensive look into the school’s long-term Druid mania, Pitt News editors discovered their own assistant opinions editor had ties to the society.  He had not previously revealed his Druid-ness to Friedenberger, a violation of the paper’s code of ethics that requires staffers “to disclose any organizations they are affiliated with.”’

Amy Friedenberger, editor-in-chief of The Pitt News at the University of Pittsburgh

Amy Friedenberger, editor-in-chief of The Pitt News at the University of Pittsburgh

Check out my conversation with Friedenberger below, which includes a breakdown of the Druids special series, the subsequent ethics flare-up, and the rationale behind her decision to let the staffer go.

This is part of what I’m calling the Journalism of Ideas podcast, a running dialogue with movers and shakers within collegemediatopia and the professional press about big issues, cool stories, and hopefully some helpful ideas along the way.  Email me ASAP if you want to join the conversation.

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For hundreds of additional ideas, check out my new book Journalism of Ideas: Brainstorming, Developing, and Selling Stories in the Digital Age.  One early supporter calls it “an instant classic” and “the next new mandatory text for college journalists.” Order a copy today.

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