Thursday, April 28, 2011
Once You Pop, You Can't Stop...
Okay, that sounds a little excessive. However, it seems to be a recurring theme. In the article, “A Journalist Breaks the Golden Rule,” it was emphasized, “Cross one ethical line and it’s that much easier to cross another” (Rosenberg 3). Anna Song, the journalist in that article, gave a eulogy for two young girls who had been murdered. However, because she was working on the story of the murders, it was considered a conflict of interest for her to give a eulogy at the memorial service.
In the article, it stated that reporters are not paid to be columnists, and therefore their opinions should excluded from their stories. That is in the ideal journalist world. Now, let’s move over to the realistic world of journalism. One of the ugly truths about journalism is that journalists are biased. Everyone is biased. It is human nature. In the case of Song, she obviously had strong opinions about the story, and felt a connection to the families. Two little girls were murdered. Song was asked to give a eulogy. “Thou shalt be unbiased” should not translate into “Thou shalt be cold hearted.” Just because her actions were biased does not mean her story was going to be biased. Just because she crossed that line does not mean she is going to fabricate sources or make up quotes.
Again, in the ideal journalistic world, it is unethical to accept wine when completing a story on it, according to the article, “Bottled Prose: The Ethical Paradox of the Wine Press.” In the UK, in order to be a good wine journalist, it is actually recommended that you taste the wine so that you understand what you’re writing about. The UK seems like they have a little firmer grasp on the realistic world of journalism.
Even though my views on the previous topics are probably considered radical, paying for interviews opens up an unnecessary can of worms. In “Checkbook Journalism Revisited,” it suggests that paying for interviews may be beneficial. Interview subjects usually get stories written about them. It should be considered a privilege, even for celebrities, to voice the truth or their opinions to the public. You shouldn’t have to bribe someone with thousands of dollars. Regardless, all sorts of well-known news outlets are reverting to this method. ABC and Esquire shouldn’t have to, but they are guilty of this too. Of course Lt. Calley is going to be smiling if he was paid $20,000 for an interview. That might have made him embellish the “truth” 20,000 times more than he would have if it had been an unpaid interview.
Image from http://www.georgelois.com/pages/Esquire/Esq.calley.html