Showing Your Boss, Who’s Boss

3 Dec

Journalism is defined by the American Press Institute as, “the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.”

While a journalist is presenting news and information they must know how and be able to present it in an ethical way.  By “ethical way,” I mean that a journalist must portray the information with integrity in a fair, accurate, and thorough matter.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information.”  When SPJ states the word “journalists,” it is referring to all reporters, columnists, writers commentators, reviewers, correspondents, citizen journalists, and any other person who is involved in the realm of presenting news and information to others.

Andrew Havranek is the Midday and Daybreak Anchor and Producer for WDTV in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Andrew Havranek is the Midday and Daybreak Anchor and Producer for WDTV in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

 

Andrew Havranek graduated from Duquesne University in May of 2014 with a degree in Journalism. Soon after, in June of 2014, he was hired by WDTV in Clarksburg, WV as the Harrison, Lewis and Doddridge County Reporter but he quickly moved up.  On April 1, 2015, Havranek was promoted to the weekend anchor followed by another promotion on October 26 as the Daybreak and Midday Anchor/Producer.

According to Havranek reporters face ethical issues all the time from small problems such as who to contact on follow up stories, especially those dealing with tragedy, to issues that could possibly change the life of whomever their story is about.

Havranek was put up against, what he says was, the hardest ethical issue he has had to face thus far in his journalism career in the first few months of working for WDTV.

In September of 2014, the mayor of Bridgeport was stepping down following charges against him for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and oxymorphone, and a new mayor was being sworn into office.  Within days of this, Havranek received a tip from someone in the community telling him to check the Federal Court documents involving the mayor.

What he found on those documents sparked conflict. The documents stated that the new mayor, who was just sworn in to replace the prior mayor due to drug charges, was previously convicted and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver cocaine.

“Another mayor, another drug charge. Red Flag. Issue. I reached out to him, to city council, and other members of the city to find out if they knew. Everyone was declining to comment, but the mayor decided to sit down with me and discuss the conviction. 

My boss didn’t want the story to air, as the two are friends. As a journalist, I find if extremely unethical to not run a story because of personal relationships with subjects.”

Several journalists have and will face times when they do not see eye to eye on ethical dilemmas with their editor, anchor, producer, general manager, etc., but it is how the journalist overcomes the issue that shows how good, or bad, of a journalist that person may be.

Havranek knew that the story had to be told to the people of Bridgeport but he wanted to do the ethical thing in giving the new mayor a chance to respond before broadcasting it to everyone.

Long story short, Havranek cut, edited, and wrote the package, piecing it together carefully but also making sure all of the information was accurate and fairly represented.  Instead of doing a piece that would merely tell the people of the new mayors wrongdoings, he was able to turn it into a story about a man who overcame past wrongdoings, passed the BAR exam, and went on to be they mayor of a city in North Central West Virginia.

The mayor, although probably not happy that the information was given out in the first place, got lucky that Havranek was the reporter on this story because not every reporter would take the time to allow the mayor to comment on these findings. As for his boss, he was much happier running the story about his friend once he saw the finished, ethical project Andrew Havranek pieced together.

 

(From left) Jill Szwed, Andrew Havranek, and Shannon Chavez are all smiles on set for Channel 5's Daybreak Show.

(From left) Jill Szwed, Andrew Havranek, and Shannon Chavez are all smiles on set for Channel 5′s Daybreak Show.

 

Always stand your ground. Fight for what you believe is right, even if it’s against what your bosses say. Don’t be rude about it, and don’t be discouraged if you eventually lose out to the higher-ups. Ultimately, they will make the decision. But as a journalist, you have a duty to inform the public. It’s your job. Stand your ground and use what you learned in class as your basis.” 

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