Last Friday, Emmy award-winning producer Jennifer Duck spoke to students in Thom Storey’s Media Ethics class about her career journey and ethical reporting. Duck is currently the producer of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”
She recently returned from 10 straight days on the ground with Cooper in Ferguson, Missouri, directing all the show’s live news coverage of the demonstrations and riots following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. Duck discussed the challenges of photo ethics and how they handled Brown’s death while respecting requests of his family. In addition, she touched on her approach to getting information from the public.
“We went around the area and talked directly to witnesses. People respond better to face-to-face interaction than an email or phone call,” Duck said. “The best reporting comes from going on the ground and talking to people.”
In reference to the death reports on Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, Duck discussed the ethics of getting the story right versus getting it first.
“If CNN can’t confirm on our own, we won’t attribute it or run it. You never know how credible those sources are,” she said.
She also showed clips of her work at CNN and talked about how she arrived at the TV channel. She discussed her previous work as producer for Katie Couric’s syndicated show in New York and the talent and development director for the launch of the OWN network. In addition, she was a backpack journalist covering the McCain and Obama presidential campaigns for ABC News in 2008.
“[Networking], that’s the biggest thing you should take from this. Connections are crucial,” Duck said. “When you meet someone, take their business card and keep it forever.”