“Poison Pen: Rita Skeeter, her Quick-Quotes Quill and Journalism Ethics in the Wizarding World”
Presented by Lola Burnham, associate professor of journalism
This program is part of Booth Library’s fall exhibit and program series, “Twenty Years of Harry Potter: Celebrating a Phenomenon” and scheduled for October 3, 2017 at Booth Library on the campus of EIU.
The exhibit will be on display at the library from Sept. 14 through Dec. 31, 2017.
The news media play an important role in the Harry Potter books almost from page one. In the first three books, the news media are taken at their word and what they report is to be believed. Beginning with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” however, author J.K. Rowling’s portrayal of the Wizarding news media takes a dark turn with the introduction of the unscrupulous Rita Skeeter, correspondent for the Daily Prophet. This program will weigh Skeeter’s reporting methods against the ethical principles espoused in the U.K.’s (admittedly Muggle) Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code of Practice. The IPSO replaced the Press Complaints Commission, which was repeatedly criticized as being toothless during the Leveson Inquiry into the British press’s reporting practices. It will also discuss Rowling’s testimony before the Leveson Inquiry and will recount her attempts to use the PCC to protect her children from being photographed by paparazzi.
Lola Burnham is a professor in Eastern’s Journalism Department, interim director of Student Publications, and editorial adviser to The Daily Eastern News. One of her research areas is media ethics, and she enjoys using the Harry Potter books to connect to her research topics. She has many fond memories of taking her children to Harry Potter book release parties. She is also still wondering why her letter from Hogwarts never arrived and suspects that nargles are to blame.