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Harry Potter, ethics and journalism

You could not make it up — Lies, Damn Lies and the Daily Prophet: a Look at Journalism and Ethics in Harry Potter was one of the lectures at a conference in Las Vegas. Carole Cadwalladr wrote about a JK Rowling fest in yesterday’s Observer. Her article includes this gem:

Everybody conscientiously troops in and out of the lecture rooms regardless of the fact that some of it is, quite frankly, rubbish. There’s something slightly unseemly about watching a whole load of academics leaping on a bandwagon. I make a point of going to ‘Lies, Damn Lies and the Daily Prophet: A Look at Journalism and Ethics in Harry Potter’ since although most people swoon when they hear my adorable accent, one female Harry Potter refuses to answer my questions on the grounds that ‘the British press lack ethics and principles’.

Hmm, I think, and march into the seminar ready to do battle. But from what I can figure out, and I don’t think I was missing anything major, the main point is a comparison between Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, and Joseph Stalin.

There is nothing else about journalism but it is enough to give me an excuse to recommend a piece of good writing which introduces a surprising sub-genre of wizard fiction.


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  1. JoSelle Vanderhooft says

    I’m the author of the paper and a journalist as well. Yes, I saw the article, and I’m a big girl and I can take some ribbing. Except Cadwalladr missed several key facts about my paper. Mainly

    1) It wasn’t about Joseph Stalin. This was a relatively minor detail and was mentioned to discuss the ways in which the press can be manipulated by outside forces, including governments, to the endangerment of public welfare.

    2) I was speaking to a room of people who were mostly unfamiliar with how the press works and had to talk to their level of experience.


    3) That wasn’t even it’s title. It was “Lies, DamnED Lies, and The Daily Prophet”.

    Really, I’m fine with people trashing my hard work. But they can at least do so while getting their facts straight. Eventually the paper will be made available online so everyone can make up their own minds about my research.