Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ethics in Oil and Other Things

Okay -- so it shouldn't be surprising that the Senator from Alaska -- the longest serving republican Senator in Congress -- would be indicted for taking kickbacks from the oil industry. Still, it's rather disheartening.

This from the NYTimes:

"A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia charged Mr. Stevens, who is 84 and the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, with failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, including extensive renovations to his house in Alaska, a Land Rover and home furnishings on financial disclosure forms that he filed from 1999 to 2006."

This from Senator Stevens' website:

"I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator.
In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges.
The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly.
I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

The impact of these charges on Alaska, the US and the globe disturbs me greatly.
I can't seem to find them as web pages, but if you go HERE you will find PDFs of Senate ethics committee guidelines.

It was one of those days when I just felt like accumulating... I came across this on a site called Huliq news -- which I am not going to link.

"Loathsome Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted on charges of corruption stemming from a year long investigation into Alaskan politics."

This looks like a kind of newsy site, with an obviously unnewsy lead... so I thought I'd see what they were "about:"

What is Citizen Journalism?
Citizen Journalism is an evolving form of journalism through user generated content. Its when any person in their capacity as a citizen takes up the challenge to report things or express their views.
Citizen Journalists are not bound by the conventional term of a journalist. Citizen journalists take up an initiative to express ideas irrespective of their educational or professional background. In a way this emerging form of journalism is promising a scenario of breaking free from media bias as well as taking local news to a global platform.

Citizens' journalism needs to be renamed immediately -- maybe something like -- grafiti? A Blog, perhaps...

I found myself so disheartened today it took me 8 hours to post.

Here is The Pew Center statement on journalism ethics --

"Pew Research Center Code of Ethics

Independence, impartiality, open-mindedness and professional integrity are indispensable to the mission and success of the Pew Research Center. To promote and preserve these values, the Center's Code of Ethics includes the following policies:

Conflicts of Interest
Employees of the Center must avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. They should never engage in any activity that might compromise or appear to compromise the Center's credibility or its reputation for independence or impartiality. All employees are required to seek prior approval from a supervisor before engaging in any activity that may be deemed a potential conflict of interest, including membership in groups, boards and associations that may call into question the Center's credibility or its reputation for impartiality.

Prohibitions on Electioneering
The Center and all of its employees, when acting in their professional capacity, are prohibited from participating, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign activities on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. The Center's federal tax status as a 501(c)(3) organization makes all such activity illegal. In addition, the Center has a strict prohibition against partisan political activity by senior staff, even when they are acting in their individual capacity and on their personal time. Center employees are permitted to provide information to political parties or partisan figures only if they do so on a non-exclusive basis and make the same information available to the general public.

Integrity of Research
To ensure that the information we generate is of the greatest value to citizens and policymakers, the Center is committed to conducting research in a manner that is impartial, open-minded and meets the highest standards of methodological integrity. We employ only those tools and methods of analysis that, in our professional judgment, are well suited to the research question at hand. We describe our findings and methods accurately and in sufficient detail to permit outsiders to evaluate the credibility of our results. We encourage inquiries about our research methods and practices, and attempt to answer requests for information promptly. When we conduct survey research, we are committed to dealing in an honest, open and transparent way with our respondents, and to protecting their privacy.

Whenever there are any substantial complaints, either from outsiders or from Center employees, alleging that any of these standards have been abused or that any misconduct has taken place in the Center's research processes, these complaints will be referred to the president of the Center and to the director of the project that produced the work in question. If the president decides after an initial review that an investigation is warranted, the matter will be referred to the Center's Research Practices Committee (consisting of the president, executive vice president, director of survey research and two of the project directors), augmented by as many outside experts as the president sees fit to appoint. If the president is the subject of the complaint, the president will notify the Center board, which shall conduct the initial review, determine whether to initiate an investigation and whether the president's recusal from the process is warranted."

No comments: