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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Edward Wasserman

Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics

Reid 120
(540) 458-8433

Professional Website

Curriculum Vitae

Edward Wasserman is the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. He writes and speaks widely on matters related to professional rights and wrongs, technological change, and media ownership and control. His academic specialties include plagiarism, source confidentiality, and conflict of interest.

Since 2001 he has written a biweekly column on the media for The Miami Herald, which is distributed nationally by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service. He is on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and is on the board of advisors to the international Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO). He has spoken to professional and academic groups throughout the United States and in Argentina, Brazil, China, Britain, India, The Netherlands, Canada, and Sweden.

Wasserman joined W&L in 2003 after a career in journalism that began in 1972. He worked for news organizations in Maryland, Wyoming, Florida and New York. Among other positions, he was CEO and editor in chief of American Lawyer Media's Miami-based Daily Business Review newspaper chain, executive business editor of the Miami Herald, city editor of the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, and editorial director of Primedia's 140-publication Media Central division in New York.


 Ph.D., Media politics and economics, London School of Economics, 1980

Licence, Philosophy, University of Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne, 1972

B.A. cum laude, Politics and economics, Yale University, 1970


Academic specialties include plagiarism, source confidentiality, and conflict of interest.


Journalism Ethics (JOUR 344)

Media Ethics (JOUR 345)

Media Ownership and Control (JOUR 242)

Media and Poverty (JOUR 241)

Selected Publications

Writings for Academics

"Threats to Ethical Journalism in the New Media Age," Lead article, Media Ethics magazine, Spring 2010, Vol. 21, No. 2

"A Robust Future for Conflict of Interest," chapter in A Philosophical Approach to Journalism Ethics, Christopher Meyers, editor. Oxford University Press, 2010.

"The Future of Journalism Ethics," chapter in An Ethics Trajectory: Visions of Media Past, Present, and Yet to Come, Thomas Cooper, editor. Institute of Communication Research, University of Illinois, 2009.

"Conflict of Interest Enters a New Age," chapter in The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics, Lee Wilkins
and Clifford Christians, editors. Routledge, 2008.

"Plagiarism and Precedence," Lead article, Media Ethics magazine, Fall 2006.

       Republished in Media Ethics: Global Dimensions, Nirmala Rao Khadpekar, editor. Hyderabad, India: Icfai University Press,   2008.

"Confidentiality and Truth-Telling," Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol. 20 no. 2&3, 2005.

"A Critique of Source Confidentiality," Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, vol. 19 no. 2,


The Politics and Economics of Technological Innovation in the Telecommunications Industry: The
Global Commercial Satellite System and Pre-Emptive Underdevelopment,1962-1974,
London School of Economics and Political Science,1980; recommended for
publication by University of London Press and Cambridge University Press

Writings for Professional and General Readers

"Investigative Reporting: Strategies for Its Survival," Nieman Reports, The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Fall 2008

"Looking Past the Rush into Convergence," Nieman Reports, Harvard University, Winter 2007

"Pressures Force the Emergence of a New Journalism," Nieman Reports, Winter 2005

Quarterly ethics columns for The Business Journalist, national newsletter of the Society of American
Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), 2006-2009, including:

"Herd on the Street: Did the Business Press Miss the Big One?" (Fall 2008)
"How to Corrupt Your Brand" (Summer 2008)
"The Obscure Charms of Transparency" (Spring 2008)
"Pitfalls En Route to The Internet's Promise," (Fall 2007)
"Dealing with Institutional Conflicts of Interest," (Summer 2007)
"Keeping the Double-Cross Out of Cross-Promotion," (Spring 2007)
"Media Honors: Is It More Blessed than to Receive?" (Winter 2007)
"Prizes and Their Perils," (Fall 2006)
"Respecting Precedence," (Winter 2006)

"Ted Koppel Offers Officials a Cozy Forum on Terrorism," The New York Times, Sept. 9, 2006

"Reader as Client," American Journalism Review, May 1997.

Since January 2001 more than 250 biweekly newspaper columns, which are frequently republished in national and regional publications throughout the country and abroad served by the McClatchy-Tribune (formerly Knight-Tribune) news service. Among them:

         The Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press, International Herald Tribune, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Post, Tallahassee Democrat, Dallas Morning News, Newport News (VA) Daily Press, Pueblo (CO) Chieftain, Press of Atlantic City, Denver Post, Sacramento Bee, the Belleville (IL) News-Democrat, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel, Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin, San Gabriel Valley (CA) Tribune, Roanoke (VA) Times, Centre Daily Times (PA), Raleigh (NC) News And Observer, Lawrence (KS) Journal World, Tricities.Com (Johnson City, TN), San Jose (CA) Mercury News, Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, Rome (GA) News-Tribune, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Oakland (CA) Tribune, Hartford (CN) Courant And Fort Worth (TX) Star Telegram, and linked to routinely by many websites, archived at



Professional and Academic Service

Organizer of twice-yearly Media Ethics Institutes at Washington and Lee University, in which invited fellows discuss cases of ethical challenge with students in capstone media ethics course. Keynote speakers since 2003 include:

Dan Rather
Steven Brill
Hodding Carter III
Helen Thomas
Jayson Blair
Matt Cooper
Brian Duffy
Clark Hoyt
Gerald Boyd

Founded, a student-run website at Washington and Lee University that provides news digests, resource links and interactive opportunities to journalists who cover issues related to poverty and class. Currently staffed by two work-study students and assorted volunteers.

Hearst Visiting Professional, University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Chapel Hill, Nov. 15-16, 2010

Teacher, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas, Austin, distance learning courses, media ethics, fall 2010.

Visiting lecturer, Florida International University, Oct. 13-14, 2010

Organizer and moderator, "What Now? Beyond the 2008 Economic Meltdown." University-wide
symposium, Washington and Lee University, October 2008.

Invitee and conferee, "The Crisis in News: Is There a Future for Investigative Reporting?"
2nd and 4th Annual Reva and David Logan Symposia on Investigative Reporting, University of California, Berkeley, April 2008, April 2010

Conferee, "Tangled Web: The Ethics of Newspapers Online," Workshop sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, February 2008.

Consultant on ethics and reporting for two Indian newspapers, Hindustan Times and Mint
Financial Daily, New Delhi and Mumbai, India, December 2007.

Fellow, Faculty Institute, Universidade Federal do Amazonas and Petrobras Center for
Environmental Excellence in the Amazon, Manaus, Brazil, July 2007

Participant, Media Ethics Summit II, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN,
February 2007

Panelist, Ethics Symposium, Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) Fall
Workshop, New York, October 2006.

Virginia Associated Press Managing Editors Ethics Workshop; panel moderator, Washington
and Lee University, October 2005

Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisors workshop, keynote speaker,
Washington and Lee University, September 2005

Seminar with Chinese journalism instructors, Renmin University; Beijing, China, July 2005

Panel moderator, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Washington and Lee
University; April 2005

Frequent interviewee for news stories about media ethics; outlets include National Public
Radio, PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, American Journalism Review, The New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, CBS, Guardian Unlimited (UK, Reuters, U.S. News and World Report, Editor and Publisher magazine, Bloomberg News, Hartford Courant, Al Jazeera, Columbia Journalism Review, The Los Angeles Times, Online Journal (The Wall Street Journal online), Kansas City Star, Houston Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Baltimore Sun, Mainichi (Tokyo), Reuters, Radio Beijing, Seattle Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, O Globo (Sao Paulo) and other local and regional newspapers and broadcast outlets, 2003-present

Editorial board member, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 2006-present.

Editorial reviewer, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) ethics division

Selected Presentations to Academic and Professional Groups

"An Alternative Future for the Organization of News Ombudsmen," Address to the ONO Annual Meeting, Oxford, England, May 2010.

"Threats to Ethical Journalism in the New Media Age," Keynote to Symposium, The News Ombudsman: Watchdog or Decoy? Organized by the Media-Ombudsman of the Netherlands,The Hague, March 2010.

          Reprinted as lead article, Media Ethics magazine, Spring 2010.

"Financial Journalism Under Challenge," Keynote to symposium, Financial Journalism in a Changing Media Environment: Ethics, Responsibility and Trust, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, November 2008.

"Political Partisanship and the News Media: Troublemaking or Intelligent Design?" Presentation to a panel on partisanship, Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, October 2008.

"Changes in the Business of News Pose New Problems for Newsroom Ethics," Address to the Organization of News Ombudsmen, Stockholm, Sweden, May 2008.

"What is ‘Acting Independently?' " Keynote address at Silha Spring Ethics Forum, Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, April 2008.

"Ethical Journalism in the Internet Age," Lecture to Law of the Internet course, Prof. Amy Sanders, University of Minnesota, April 2008.

"Concluding Remarks," Ninth International Symposium on Online Journalism, University of Texas, Austin. April 2008

Respondent and moderator, Session on Elliot Cohen and Bruce Fraser, The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government are Turning American into a Dictatorship. Association of Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) annual conference, San Antonio, TX, February 2008.

Panelist, "Symposium on CBS, Dan Rather and 60 Minutes," Washington and Lee University School of Law Press Law Institute, March 2008

"New Challenges to Ethical Journalism," Paper to the II International Congress of the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA), Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 2007.

"Anglo vs. Hispanic Ethics?" Presentation to The Ethical Divide, a Media Symposium
at Florida International University, Miami, FL, February 2007.

"Comments on The Ethics of the Story," Presenter and panel moderator, Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) annual conference, Cincinnati, OH, February 2007.

"Ethics for Business Journalists," Seminar presentation, The ABC's of Business, Knight Center
for Specialized Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, October 2006

Panelist, Financial Reporting Ethics Seminar, SABEW Fall Workshop, Bloomberg News,
New York, October 2006

"The Media Since 9/11," Presenter and moderator for university-wide 5th Anniversary panel
discussion, Washington and Lee University, September 2006

"The Ethics of Product Placement," Panel presentation at the Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) annual convention, San Francisco,
CA, August 2006

"Ethical Journalism in the Internet Age," Paper for the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO)
annual conference, Sao Paolo, Brazil, May 2006

"Transparency and Quality Journalism." Panel presentation to the Forum Folha de Jornalismo,
Sao Paolo, Brazil, May 2006

"Journalists and Short-Sellers: The Dilemma of the Evil but Truthful Source," Panel
presentation, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), Minneapolis, MN, April 2006

"Pay to Play," Panel presentation to the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics
(APPE), Jacksonville, FL, March 2006

"The Uses and Misuses of Ethics," Keynote address, Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and
Public Trust, Media Ethics Conference, Florida International University, Miami FL,
December 2005

"The Judiciary and the Media: Mutual Influences, Overlapping Jurisdictions," Presented to
Northwest Institute of Politics and Law, Xi'an, China, co-sponsored by InterNews, July 2005

"Current Issues in U.S. Court-Media Relations," Presented to Advanced Workshop on Media and Law,
Communications University, Beijing, China, co-sponsored by InterNews, July 2005

"A Critique of the Critique of Media Ownership," Presented to the Association for Practical and
Professional Ethics (APPE), San Antonio, TX, February 2005

"Ethical Journalism Amid Conflict," Daylong seminar with Palestinian and Israeli journalists,
Northeastern University, Boston, February 2005.

"The Real Crisis in Journalism Ethics," Keynote address, banquet, Florida chapter, Society of
Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, Fort Lauderdale, FL, May 2004

Panelist, "Journalism Ethics," Voices series, University of Richmond (VA), October 2003



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