Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

January 25, 2006

Washington News Council to Sponsor Feb. 8 Panel
on Spokesman-Review Coverage of Former Mayor Jim West

The Washington News Council will sponsor a panel discussion of The Spokesman-Review's recent and controversial coverage of former Spokane mayor Jim West. The panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 7-9 p.m., in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth College. Admission is free.

The panel will discuss topics including media ethics and right to privacy regarding newspaper coverage of Jim West, who was voted out of office in fall 2005 after The Spokesman-Review revealed that he had used his city computer to contact young men through online gay chat rooms. West declined an invitation to participate in the panel discussion.

The panelists are:

  • Jack Geraghty, former mayor of Spokane, and former county commissioner and Spokane Chronicle reporter
  • Jane Kirtley, the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota
  • Ted McGregor, editor and publisher of The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Spokane's alternative weekly newspaper
  • Steve Smith, editor of The Spokesman-Review
  • Ginny Whitehouse, associate professor of communication studies, Whitworth College

John Irby will serve as moderator. Irby is an associate professor of journalism and associate director of undergraduate studies in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University.

After brief opening statements from each panelist, the moderator will pose questions such as these: Was The Spokesman-Review's hiring of an undercover computer consultant, posing as a teen-age boy, to contact Mayor West acceptable under generally recognized media-ethics codes? Do elected officials have a right to privacy in such circumstances? Was the newspaper's coverage of the mayor's history and activities fair and accurate?

Written questions from the audience will also be accepted. Students from area university, college and high-school journalism programs are encouraged to attend and submit questions.

The Washington News Council is an independent forum for media fairness. Its mission is to help maintain public trust and confidence in the news media by promoting fairness, accuracy and balance, and by providing a forum where citizens and journalists can discuss standards of media ethics and performance. The council's 24-member board comprises current and former media professionals and non-media members from a variety of backgrounds.

The WNC is funded by foundation grants and individual, corporate, association and media donations. Since its founding in 1999, the council has sponsored or co-sponsored 18 public forums and panels on media-related issues. For more information about the WNC, please visit www.wanewscouncil.org.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Contacts:

John Hamer, WNC executive director, (206) 262-9793 or jhamer@wanewscouncil.org.

Chuck Rehberg, WNC media member (509) 467-6108 or Cjr2@mindspring.com.

Ginny Whitehouse, associate professor of communication studies, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4704 or gwhitehouse@whitworth.edu.

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