LJWorld.com weblogs Adam Vossen

The Ethics of News


My involvement in the class which has me writing this blog has coincided with my enrollment in an Ethics and the Media class.

It has made for quite an experience in synergistic learning.

The recent shooting at Ft. Hood provided a topic of discussion in my ethics class. Eager to report the event and inform the public, as the media should be, much of the information was quickly compiled. This caused the information to be misreported and incorrect as well as racist and from questionable sources, as it should not be.

After working in the field for this class, I now understand the pressure for quick news. Okay, so I'm only an intern and I don't know the HALF of it, but just play along.

With the Internet and cable news available for continuous news updates, the pressure on journalists is ominous. But losing sight of our ethics cannot be compromised.

As tempting as using questionable but quick sources (Twitter) can be, the value of the hard-earned source cannot be forgotten.

I have seen many classmates (none in this class, just to clarify) go to friends for an easy source or simply invent sources for reporting assignments. This worries me greatly. In an industry that is already faltering, media workers with with that kind of ethic can only cause more damage.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

Adam, I am curious as to why no one went to the Muslim Center to get ideas as to how they view the Fort Hood shootings. It seems to me that the main difference between fundamentalists Muslims and Christians is that the one is prepared to die for their faith and the other is prepared to kill. You can't put all the information that you gather into the article, so how do you decide what to put in? When Woodward and Bernstein investigated the Watergate break in, and I revere them, didn't they have an agenda? I think they had a good one so I am not worried about it. But, wasn't their aim to nail Nixon? Which was a good thing.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… "Adam, I am curious as to why no one went to the Muslim Center to get ideas as to how they view the Fort Hood shootings."

Does the name Daniel Pearl ring a bell? "Photos of Pearl handcuffed with a gun at his head and holding up a newspaper were attached. There was no response to pleas from Pearl's editor, nor from his wife Mariane. Nine days later, Pearl was beheaded."

On February 21, 2002, a videotape titled The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl, was released. The video shows Pearl's mutilated body and lasts three minutes and 36 seconds. On the image to the right, the text in Arabic reads: "My name is (Daniel Pearl), I am a Jewish-American..." The English transcript of the text reads [sic]: "My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California USA." "I come from, uh, on my father's side the family is Zionist." "My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish." "My family follows Judaism. We've made numerous family visits to Israel." * "Back in the town of Bnei Brak there is a street named after my great grandfather Chaim Pearl who is one of the founders of the town." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Pearl#Murder

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

Sigmund Are you serious? A reporter would be putting their life in jeopardy if they went to the Muslim Center to ask questions? I don't think so.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 5 months ago

good article, adam. very thought provoking.

in my estimation there are alot of drawbacks to this internet driven society and one of them is that everyone seems to want their news faster. television follows suit because they don't want to become an irrelevant source so they move in just as quickly and grasp whatever news nuggets they can find and then televise as rapidly as possible.

ethics change... they are societal, they are religious-based, they are emotion driven and, sometimes, they are logic based. unfortunately the latter falls to the former reasonings more often than not.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

The Ethics of News linked to climate change.

THAT about says it all, isn't it? To take a theory as fact is in itself unethical.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

Sigmund is scared to go to the Islamic Center of Lawrence?

Geez, the fringies are a bunch of kitty kats.

ashleym 8 years, 5 months ago

You hit on two of the things that bother and worry me most about the industry.

I think the pressure on journalists to get information out faster and faster is part of the reason for the abundance of airtime wasted on twitter and similar pursuits. Because it is difficult to get a well-researched story out fast, many tv news stations and online news outlets turn to fluffy stories about celebrities and arguments between hosts and guests.

Journalists need to take the time to present a story that's worth hearing or reading.

I to have seen classmates pick easy sources and even slightly re-word quotes to make them more useful for classroom assignments. They may think it's just for a class so it doesn't matter. But it does. They should be practicing and preparing for the real world now. These are the habits they are likely to fall back on in a crunch.

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