Twice a year for the past several decades, eminent communications professionals from throughout the country have come to Lexington for a weekend seminar with Washington and Lee journalism and mass communications majors about the ethical challenges that arise in today's media workplace.
The two-day institute is led by a keynote speaker, usually a well known figure in the communications world. Recent keynoters have included New York Times columnist David Carr; former CBS News anchor Dan Rather; broadcast journalist and newspaper columnist Hodding Carter III; media entrepreneur Steven Brill; longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas; and New York Times ex-managing editor Gerald Boyd.
The autumn institutes are focused exclusively on newsroom ethics, and the institute fellows-the visiting professionals who bring the cases to discuss-are invited from regional and national news organizations and from academic institutions with strong journalism programs. The students are journalism majors enrolled in our cornerstone Journalism Ethics class.
The winter institutes take a broader view, and cover issues related to the wider field of media ethics, comprising not just journalism but public relations, advertising, documentary film, and entertainment programming as well. The fellows are PR practitioners, film-makers, writers and producers, as well as newspeople, and the students are mass communications majors who attend the institute as part of their required Media Ethics class.
The institutes are funded by the Knight Program in Journalism Ethics and are co-sponsored by W&L's Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.