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Jim Ryan is a senior studying journalism and political science and editor-in-chief of The Post

From The Editor's Desk: Tweeting potential jurors’ names an ethical, not legal, question

When an ethics question arises, who you gonna call?

When an ethics question arises, who you gonna call?

For us at The Post, it’s usually an easy answer. We have a host of university contacts that have years of experience in the field and are able to give us an informed opinion about just about everything we throw at them.

For one quandary that came up this week, I sought a bit of advice from someone who has experience in the field and on the bench. That led me to Tom Hodson, a former judge, Postie and director of the Scripps School of Journalism. He is the current director of WOUB Public Media.

As many of you know, jury selection for the trial of suspended Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly began Monday. (Kelly was charged last year with 25 counts, including 23 felonies.)

As some of you know, Post reporters live tweeted the names of potential jurors throughout the day Monday. Two of those tweets were retweeted by a staff Twitter account, @ThePostLocal. Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove has since banned live tweeting the proceedings.

As a few of you know, there’s actually nothing illegal about publishing the names of jurors — potential or sitting.

“Those are news judgment and fairness and ethical questions that you as a news organization have the total parameters to decide,” Hodson told me. “How you decide that may be an ethical question, but it’s certainly not a legal question.”

We did publish the name of one dismissed juror, the mayor of Glouster, in our story about the first day of jury selection because we deemed it to be newsworthy.

Where The Post fell short, Hodson and I surmised, was in the process of preparing for the trial. I should have started a newsroom conversation beforehand about the newsworthiness of potential jurors’ names and ensured that reporters were up to speed about what to tweet.

Was it our best decision to tweet the names of prospective jurors? Probably not. But the trial will proceed as planned, live tweets or not.

“Nothing that your reporters did ultimately impacts on the fairness of the trial,” Hodson said.

As it should be. Thanks for reading.

Jim Ryan is a senior studying journalism and political science and editor-in-chief of The Post. On the edge of your seat about the Kelly trial? Think he should go kick rocks? Contact him at or on Twitter at @Jimryan015. 

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