RTNDA prexy defends b’casters’ news ethics

WASHINGTON — In response to a recent speech by Reed Hundt, Radio and Television News Directors Assn. president Barbara Cochran opined in a letter to the FCC chairman that broadcast journalism does not take a back seat to print journalism when it comes to ethics.

Cochran was replying to comments made by Hundt earlier this week in which the nation’s top telecommunications regulator said broadcasters could learn a little from newspapers when it comes to standards in journalism. In the speech, Hundt criticized broadcasters for their dependence on crime and celebrity news.

Hundt also said Congress and the Federal Communications Commission should hold hearings on broadcast journalism in an effort to bolster broadcasters’ First Amendment protections. He suggested such an effort would be easier if broadcast journalism adopted a voluntary code of conduct.

While welcoming efforts to increase First Amendment protections for broadcasters, Cochran wrote that “broadcast journalism is in no way a second-class form of journalism, as your remarks imply.” She noted that many broadcast news organizations have formal ethical standards. In addition, the RTNDA has a code of ethics endorsed by the group’s more than 3,000 members.

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