Saturday, March 12, 2005

Karen Ryan, what price did you get for your integrity?

Karen Ryan has starred in “about a dozen” government propaganda videos, including her famous puff pieces for the new Medicare prescription plan, and numerous other (so-called) video news releases for the pharmaceutical industry, among other corporate clients.

First she honed her on-air skills and made a name for herself as a reporter for ABC and PBS. Then she took that cultivated persona and put it to use to shill for government and corporate clients. Then her real role as a paid hack was revealed by others and she responded “I just don’t feel I did anything wrong. I just did what everyone else in the industry was doing.”

Okay, J-schools (University of Wisconsin?), you need to think about how you are doing your jobs. If this journalism honor student can’t parse out the flawed ethics of her behavior, the curriculum demands some serious improvement. How could Ryan possibly believe that with her sign-off, “in Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting,” she’s not impersonating a reporter, which is both dishonest and deceitful?

Lying by omission results in lies that are just as much lies as those produced by lying by commission. A lie is a lie is a lie, and if you do it for money, that only makes your breach worse. Journalism is far better off without her presence, and since she clearly has no familiarity with the concept of integrity, what good could she be at anything? Other than by being a case study in J-school, that is....

[sources: “News or Public Relations? For Bush It’s a Blur,” by David Barstow and Robin Stein, NY Times, March 13, 2005; “Distortion,” by Zacchary Roth, Columbia Journalism Review Daily, March 18, 2004]

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