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St. Louis Reporter’s Hug Ignites Twitter Debate Over Journalism Ethics

A dustup over ethics in journalism has broken out on twitter after Scott Charton, a retired Associated Press reporter tweeted that after a press conference he saw a photographer and local TV reporter hug the father of Ryan Ferguson, a man who was recently released from prison after his murder conviction was overturned.

KPLR reporter Melanie Moon identified herself as the hugger tweeting, “I hugged both.”

Joy Mayer, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism was one who joined the fray, weighing in on what she sees as the ethics of appearing to favor one side of a story or another.

Mayer told TVSpy, “My main point wasn’t with the hug. It was with her cheerleader style of reporting and her complete misunderstanding of the basic facts of the news she was covering.” When asked how she came to the conclusion Moon didn’t understand the story, Mayer said, “She was debating with me about whether the court ruling had found Ryan Ferguson to be innocent. She was misquoting a court document and defending her position as accurate.”

Jim Romenesko first reported the exchange over the hug involving the release of both Ferguson and Charles Erickson who were convicted of murdering Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Keith Heitholt in 2004.

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