Donna Ladd is an investigative journalist and editor who helped create The Jackson Free Press, an award-winning freely distributed newsweekly in Jackson, Mississippi. She focuses on justice, crime, race, kids, policing and politics in Mississippi, New York City and nationwide.
We were really glad to have Donna skype into our class to talk about her experiences and perspectives on journalism. She talked about how to be a good journalist and how to maintain journalism code of ethics when doing news reporting. I think she tried to convey that ethics is the most vital part of journalism.
First of all, as a journalist, we need to seek truth and report it thoroughly. Nowadays, there are so many so-called “alternative fact” that comes out and it’s especially harmful for the integrity and accountability of media organizations. Although each story has so many different sides and we could report it based on various dimensions and angles, we have to try our best to be unbiased because that’s our duty.
Furthermore, as distributing all the information, we want to minimize harm as best as we can. Some parts of the news story may be painful or harmful for certain groups of people to see, so we need to maximize the truth and minimize the harm by publishing the most relevant information for the public without showing too much negativity.
Thirdly, we should act independently to protect the media outlet’s image in public’s mind. Each media organization should create their unique style and have their own values. But in general, the media industry has the same ultimate goal which is making the public informed and bringing the most good to the society.
Last but not least, media organizations should be transparent and accountable as much as they can. The best way to build trust in people’s mind as a media outlet is to disclose the important things that public needs to know. Sometimes, it’s not easy to show the whole story but we need more journalists like Donna Ladd, revealing the story behind the scene about Frank Melton – the controversial mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.
Donna Ladd has already become a role model in my mind. I think she is dedicated to follow the journalism code of ethics during her career to keep public well-informed. More importantly, she was brave enough to cover so many hot issues in regards to racial reconciliation and helping bring “cold” civil rights cases to justice, etc. Overall, her determination, braveness and attitude as a journalist made me realize what I should strive for.