Ethics Pundits Disagree on Willamette Week's Trashy Tactics

january 8, 2003  02:49 pm
Editor Mark Zusman tells E&P's Joe Strupp that going through the trash of city officials was "a straightforward and simple way to hold their feet to the fire." After all, police had used evidence found in a police officer's trash to obtain a search warrant, saying that trash is public property once it reaches the curb. The Oregonian and Seattle Times disagree on whether the stunt was warranted, and journalism ethics experts are equally divided. The Poynter Institute's Keith Woods says it "borders on abuse of the tool of journalism." Tim Gleason, dean of the School of Journalism & Communications at the University of Oregon, however, finds it "quite appropriate."