Friday, May 22, 2009

Rock, Paper, Family

Susannah Sachdeva

Journalists deal with ethical decisions everyday. To spend time with family or heed the obligation to their job? To write the the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth or to disregard it in order to save precious money? The journalism world is filled with ethical dilemmas and the 1994 movie "The Paper" deals with a few of them.

"The Paper" is about Henry Hackett and his life at a New York tabloid-esque newspaper. His wife is pregnant and hoping he'll secure a higher-paying, better-hours job at a much more distinguished "world" paper. Throughout the movie, Henry deals with ups and downs with his wife and his job as he works tirelessly to get one big story to boost the reputation of the "cute" paper he currently works on.

The family or the job?
As we all know, journalists spend countless hours at their job that should be spent at home with their families. It has been like this since the early ages of the printing press. The journalist gets pinned between a rock and a hard place. Henry had to stay late at work in order to fulfill his obligation to his job. Yet his obligation to his wife and unborn child was therefore unfulfilled. The job is obviously a necessary staple to maintain a financially-secure family yet how much should one sacrifice for a job? Maybe we could all take a couple pointers from this World War II era film made by the US government in 1944...

Balancing Work and Family

The truth or the money?
In "The Paper," Henry endlessly works to print the real truth about two young men who were wrongly charged with murder. He pestered police, ruined his job offer, and even physically fought his female superior to try to stop the presses, just to ensure that his paper let the truth be known. Although much of these situations were exaggerated for entertainment's sake, such dedication to the truth is commendable. Not all journalists feel the same way as Henry, as we saw in the film "Shattered Glass" (that Media Ethics students viewed in our class a few weeks ago). If you've seen Henry's dedication to the truth in "The Paper," it's time you see just the opposite in "Shattered Glass." Here's a trailer for the film...

As an aspiring journalist myself, I find Henry Hackett's allegiance to truth inspiring and Glass's lack thereof to be appalling. Here at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, we are trained to be independent thinkers and ethical journalists. And hopefully we'll be better at balancing work and family in our futures than Henry was able to in "The Paper." But considering our career of choice, it'll be difficult, to say the least.

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