National Ethics Conference Focuses on Entertainment Journalism at Ninth Workshop

Industry experts will discuss topics such as Privacy vs. Adoration; Access to Celebrities; How to Get a Job in Entertainment Media; Stalking and Paparazzi; and Dealing with Publicity and Press Agents

Celebrities are followed by the paparazzi, have minimal privacy and are constantly in the public eye, yet they still want and need fans and attention. That attention, in the form of entertainment media ethics, is the focus of this year’s Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop, “That’s Entertainment?” The ninth annual event will take place at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Specialized lesson plans will be available online after Labor Day for high school teachers and university professors to use during discussions and assignments on entertainment media ethics in their classrooms.

“We picked entertainment ethics because there’s so much entertainment and celebrity journalism available in all media, whether it’s TV, online, magazines or newspapers, including tabloids,” said Jan Leach, workshop organizer and associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “There’s so much spin from publicity departments, movie studios and elsewhere. The news is often part truth and part rumor, but consumers may not know how to distinguish between them. There are so many responsibilities for entertainment journalists.”

Topics will include:

  • The New Ethics of Journalism
  • Privacy vs. Adoration: Celebrity News as Journalism? Gossip? Both or neither?
  • Great Expectations: Who Gets Access to Celebrities and How?
  • So You Want to Walk the Red Carpet? - Getting a Job in Entertainment Media
  • Act 2: Getting the story and vetting the story: Paparazzi, stalking, ambush interviews, social media.
  • Encore: Agents, publicists, legal reps

“Entertainment media ethics should appeal to professionals, educators and students, and the public because so many people are fascinated by and obsessed with celebrity news and information,” Leach said. “Getting that news and information to a wide audience still requires commitment to accuracy, but journalistic commitment can be thwarted by publicists and others who want tight control of a celebrity’s image and schedule.”

The program will draw a national audience through live streaming and mobile devices. In-person attendees and Web viewers can contribute to discussions and ask questions via Twitter, using the hashtag #ksuethics13.

“I hope attendees, in person and those who view online, come away with a better understanding that entertainment media and celebrity journalism are still about telling stories and the foundation of that storytelling is, or should be, the truth,” Leach said. “There are guidelines for sources, celebrities and journalists that should be respected, such as privacy and harm, and issues that should be addressed, such as access and legal rights.”