To Vote or Not to Vote? That’s the Question for NPR Journalists

One of the exciting parts of my job is the stories that editors reach out to assign to me, often from publications I’ve never previously written for. That’s what happened recently when the editor of Current, an outlet covering the public media industry, asked me to explore an ethical question. She had discovered through a Facebook post that the news editor of a public radio station was concerned by an amendment to a new state law which would make the voting preferences of everyone who voted in the primary public. This meant it would be easy to find out the political affiliations of journalists who voted. This editor asked how other public radio stations were handling this. It triggered a vigorous debate on whether journalists should abstain from participating in an activity that is the hallmark of democracy or risk being tainted as subjective. As a journalism instructor who discusses the issues of ethics with my students, I wouldn’t have seen this one coming. It’s a complicated topic with many wrinkles and I appreciated the opportunity to provide many perspectives in this article.During these particularly polarizing times, in a climate where journalists are often under fire, this was an example of another situation where there is no easy answer.


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