The Ethical Investigator

Course Overview

The Ethical Investigator
Seminar Snapshot
Time Estimate:
One hour.

About Seminar Snapshots

A Seminar Snapshot features video highlights that capture the key learning of a seminar presentation.

Al Tompkins, The Poynter Institute's Leader for Broadcasting and Online, leads a lively discussion on what goes into making an ethical journalist.

In this Seminar Snapshot, recorded Sept. 1, 2010, at a Poynter conference on "Investigating Local Government on a Budget," participants listen to and weigh in on all the ways a story can be written fairly or unfairly.

It's fun to watch as they get epiphanies on just how powerful their words are -- and just how much damage they can do if not weighed carefully.

What Will I Learn:
  • How having ethics will empower you to write great stories.
  • That you can't think of causing no harm but causing as little as necessary.
  • There are 100 ways to tell a story but many of them much less fair than others.
  • How your eyes can deceive you.
  • That going undercover for a story should be your last resort.
  • It's not only words that can be unethical, it's photos, too.
Who should take this course:

This course is for anyone who writes or edits stories. It's also for anyone who wants proof that journalists do indeed take their jobs very seriously -- and always try to do the right thing. It's a fresh and lively take on a subject that journalists deal with on a daily basis.


Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is Senior Faculty/Broadcast and Online at The Poynter Institute. He is the author of Aim for the Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters, which is being used by more than 130 universities' journalism departments around the world., and the Poynter NewsU course Reporting, Writing for TV and the Web: Aim for the Heart. He is also the author of Telling Memorable Video Stories, a video tutorial series at Poynter's NewsU. You can join the more than 10,000 people who follow him on Twitter at @atompkins.

Tompkins has more than 40 years of experience as a journalist, writer and journalism teacher who teaches in seminars at Poynter and workshops and conferences around. He has been a presenter at national conventions for IRE, RTDNA, NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, Unity, NLGJA, PRNDI and NPPA. Since 1998, he has taught seminars and workshops in 48 states and four countries.

Training Partner:

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The foundation is one of the nation's largest foundations, with more than $1 billion in assets.