Journalism and Institutional Review Boards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The author opposes any Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) overseeing the work of journalism professors and journalism students in any academic institution. He argues that the tendency for IRBs to require anonymity for persons interviewed immediately reduces the credibility of any journalistic story. The composition of an IRB is questioned on grounds that its faculty and public members may be uncomfortable with the thrust of a journalistic inquiry and, in reaction, thwart the intention of a journalist by refusing approval. The medical human subject IRB model of oversight is supported, but the author is perplexed how this medical model has awkwardly extended into such areas a social science. The journalist's first obligation is to the public's right to know under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and IRB oversight unconstitutionally interferes with that obligation. Moreover, IRB oversight amounts to "prior restraint," a practice the U. S. Supreme Court ruled is unconstitutional in the "Pentagon Papers" case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-874
Number of pages4
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • First Amendment
  • Journalism
  • Prior restraint
  • Unconstitutional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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