CBS News VP Stresses Ethical Priorities


Maria Rachal

People’s moral principles and personal values should permeate everyday life, according to Vice-President of CBS News Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews.

Referencing the global community that media innovations have been critical in building, Ciprian-Matthews spoke extensively about the importance of understanding other cultures and having diversity of backgrounds and opinions in the newsroom.

“We bring our own experiences to how we look at news.” said Ciprian-Matthews, who is originally from the Dominican Republic. “Whether you’re covering a story here in the United States, or you’re covering a story in Syria, or in Afghanistan, you need to understand cultures.”

Americans in particular, she said, lag behind the rest of the world in terms of taking interest in and learning about foreign cultures.

Ciprian-Matthews was the keynote speaker of the 58th Institute in Ethics in Journalism on Friday in Stackhouse Theater.

Much of Ciprian-Matthews’ address focused on the terrorist group ISIS and its prowess in releasing high-quality videos as propaganda to spread its message and recruit new members. She spoke about how ISIS’s videos present new challenges to news organizations like CBS.

“While we have a responsibility to report the news, we have to be conscientious of how we go about it,” Ciprian-Matthews said.

In light of recent, graphic videos from ISIS containing hostages and executions, Ciprian-Matthews stressed the hard work of striking a balance between informing the public of news in a professional way and remaining sensitive regarding matters of human life.

Ciprian-Matthews stated her personal belief that choosing to air specific segments of potentially offensive ISIS videos is the right thing to do, as long as significant verification and actual reporting has been done on the information being presented.

The two-day institute was sponsored by the Knight Program in Journalism Ethics and the Journalism and Mass Communication Department. Ciprian-Matthews’ talk was titled “News Ethics in a Time of Terror and Violence,” and covered the ethical dilemmas the news media face in a world of increasing global connectedness where technology enables virtually anyone to partake in media.

Knight Professor of Media Ethics at W&L Aly Colón was instrumental in seeking out Ciprian-Matthews to speak about ethics in her personal and professional life.

“Her vast experiences, her background of originally coming from another country, her ability to know about other countries, I think expands the world view that we can have in the journalism we do,” Colón said.

Anna Milewski, a first-year student who attended the talk, said, “I never realized just how much decision-making goes into creating a short segment of news content.”

Ciprian-Matthews hopes that journalists will continue to value thorough, accurate and ethical reporting despite living in a world where technology enables and demands of people to break news quickly.

“Journalism has to adjust and embrace technology, there’s no question,” said Ciprian-Matthews. She said that the journalism field needs to respond to changes in media and communication “while holding onto the very basic code of ethics that will keep the journalism itself intact.”