On Tuesday morning, the University of Oregon announced their annual Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism. Not surprisingly, the News-Press nine-the first wave of editors and reporters who left the paper citing concerns over management’s meddling in the newsroom-are being honored this year. The announcement explained that the judges applauded the journalists’ “difficult decision to act upon their beliefs about what excellence and ethics in journalism mean-even if it meant losing or giving up their jobs.”

They are: former executive editor Jerry Roberts; former managing editor George Foulsham; former deputy managing editor Don Murphy; former sports editor Gerry Spratt; former business editor Michael Todd; former city editor Jane Hulse; former presentation editor Colin Powers; former reporter Scott Hadly; and former columnist Barney Brantingham, who now works for The Indy after 46 years at the News-Press. These same nine were also given the Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists back in August 2006.

It seems that in this still-unfolding tale over ethics in journalism, the professionals in the field are very much positive that it’s Jerry Roberts and his supporters who are on the side of righteousness. It’s unfortunate that their former employer continues to spin it the other way, because awards such as this one from the University of Oregon are solid, indisputable evidence that the experienced professionals in the journalism world know who’s right and who’s very much wrong.

And these aren’t the only award-winners with Santa Barbara connections this year. Josh Wolf, the blogger and videojournalist who just spent the better part of a year in jail for refusing to turn over his videos of a demonstration to a grand jury, is also being awarded a “Special Citation.” The Payne Award judges “applauded Wolf’s bravery and willingness to stand for First Amendment principles.” Wolf’s first taste of professional journalism was during a stint at The Santa Barbara Independent as an intern, so we’re proud of the ethically upright journalist he’s become. Way to go Josh!

These awards will be held on Thursday, May 10, at 10 a.m. at the University of Oregon. The winners are invited to participate in a panel discussion on ethics. That should be a great one.


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