last night i went to an event at the central library put on by the greater los angeles chapter of the society of professional journalists, a panel discussion on “ethics and entertainment journalism.”

there were only about two dozen people in the audience, and five on stage, but it was a good panel discussion, and managed to go on for nearly two hours. there were five panelists: a news director from e! entertainment television (who admitted that sometimes she thought about getting out of the business because of the direction it is headed), the west coast editor for playboy (responsible for booking celebrity covers and centerfolds), a former reporter for us weekly, an associate los angeles bureau chief for people, and a reporter for the los angeles times.

something that struck me as i left the event was that on the whole, the ethical issues the panel talked about were being handled pretty responsibly (at least as they told it). while it seems like entertainment and especially celebrity journalism is where you would see the most compromises, i can’t think of instances where it has failed as utterly as the business press did in covering the dotcom bubble or the national press does in covering just about everything political (like the justification for the war in iraq, for example).

something that didn’t really come up at all is how online journalism fits into the picture, although the woman from people made a comment about how today’s writers for gawker and defamer may be the editors of tomorrow’s spy and then eventually an editor at time. i’d say that as things are going, tomorrow’s spy and time are going to be online. it remains to be seen whether those publications will “come down” from the printed world, or be born on the net.

(i originally spotted the event over on la observed. i’m such a sucker for excuses to go to the library.)

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