Getcher Red Hot Ethics Here!

Because we here at First Draft have advanced ethics clauses and rules and stuff (Rule #1: Don’t Let’s Make Shit Up If We Can Help It), I have to inform you that I am:

1. Stealing this entire story wholesale from the LA Times because I want to spare you the horrifying blinking ad that rendered it unreadable in the original.

2. Taking strong exception to number six below. Number six pretty much described my life.

Not to get all Wonkette on you.


Who Needs Ethics When You’ve Got Guidelines?

The new Journalism 101.

By Crispin Sartwell

Crispin Sartwell teaches political philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. Website:

To the staff:

Our beloved publication — the Daily Gerbil — has fallen inadvertently into a few minor apparent ethical lapses in recent months. We strongly reject the widespread characterization of our attempts to fix the last presidential election and send the Middle East into a chaos of bloody rioting as “sociopathic.” Nevertheless, in order to retain the naive trust of our last few readers, and to try to stop people blogging about us, we are yet again issuing an entirely new set of ethical guidelines for our staff.

1. Pretend not to be a liberal. We cannot emphasize this enough. Pretend not to be a liberal.

2. It’s very hard to say what the notion of “truth” really amounts to, so why worry?

3. Keep in mind that most of us reporters and editors here at the Daily Gerbil went to, like, Columbia and Harvard and stuff. Condescend.

4. There will henceforth be no unsourced stories. All groundless innuendo and vicious slander must be attributed to unnamed officials.

5. Increase basic factual errors. This will help conceal basic interpretive errors.

6. Stories are much more coherent and interesting when you don’t try actually to do any reporting but simply sit in your condo, drinking and typing. The crusty reporters of yesteryear favored cheap scotch. Today’s j-school grad understands that a couple of bottles of decent white wine are the key to responsible yarn-spinning.

7. Information technology makes plagiarism easy. Cut and paste. If you replace a couple of words in each sentence with synonyms, it won’t be Googlable.

8. All articles will now achieve balance by getting a comment on their subject matter (interest rates, for example) from one anarchist and one fascist.

9. Scrupulously maintain the authoritative, magisterial and neutral tone associated with the Gerbil. Imply that only an idiot would question your assertions or even actually notice that they were being made at all. No one wrote this; it grew here overnight from a spore, with the bland spontaneity of a huge, poisonous mushroom.

10. Take a tip from Congress: Avoid at all costs the appearance of a conflict of interest while paddling contentedly in the rejuvenating waters of its reality.

11. Desperately placate anyone who uses the term “lawsuit.”

We trust that, until the next meltdown, these steps will reestablish the reputation for the highest apparent standards of apparent journalism that the Daily Gerbil has apparently upheld for all these decades.

Via Romenesko.