|TVSPY is reporting a New York-based ethics award is going to some very worthy recipients, in one case, despite the objections of a seriously biased former employer:
Payne Awards Judging Committee Reaffirms Jon Leiberman's Citation In Response to Sinclair Broadcasting Letter
In response to a letter received from David Smith, president of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the judging panel of the Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism has reaffirmed its decision to award a special professional citation to Jon Leiberman.
Leiberman was Washington bureau chief of Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group's news division when he was fired in 2004 for publicly criticizing the company's plan to broadcast a program featuring a slanted view of then-Presidential candidate John Kerry's actions during the Vietnam War less than two weeks before the election.
Sinclair staff are prohibited from discussing staff meetings publicly. Lieberman, who
told The Baltimore Sun he violated the gag order for reasons of professional conscience, will receive the Payne Awards special professional citation. Smith's letter questioned the judges' decision in light of Maryland Department of Labor findings as well as Leiberman's violation of Sinclair's policy.
"Mr. Leiberman upheld the fundamental journalist principles of fairness and balance, even at the risk of losing his job," Dean Tim Gleason wrote Smith in a May 9 letter. "It was a principled stand in the face of significant pressure."
"The Maryland Department of Labor finding that Mr. Leiberman had violated provisions of his contract prohibiting speaking to the press/media without permission and the sharing of proprietary information outside the company does not negate the fact that he acted in order to uphold values that are central to the practice of journalism in the public interest."
The 2005 Payne Awards winners include: freelance photojournalist and military pool reporter Kevin Sites, who made a series of ethical decisions after filming a U.S. soldier killing an unarmed Iraqi; The Denver Post, which reviewed and adhered to its policy of not naming Kobe Bryant's accuser although their competitors were doing so and explained that policy in detail to their readers; and Arizona State University's
independent student newspaper The State Press, which used a thoughtful process to work with the administration when a major donor protested the paper's use of a graphic photo to illustrate a story about body piercing.
The awards ceremony was held today.