Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where the Line is Crossed

Kristi Ludlow

If you didn’t know this already journalists are people…surprise I know. And being people, we sometimes have interests outside of the newsroom. It is necessary to recognize when in fact those interests are creating an ethical conflict….but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen and someone ends up crossing the line. Here are some examples.

After reading the several articles on conflict of interest, one called A Journalist Breaks the Golden Rule really stuck out to me. Now being a TV person myself, I can’t imagine being in a position where I thought it was ok to speak at a memorial for two young girls of whom I have been covering. I understand this reporter probably felt a personal connection after covering the story for a longer period of time—but to act upon this personal feeling is completely unethical. The most shocking part of it all is that the news director at this station encouraged and approved this action. How in the world was this young reporter supposed to retain any shred of objectivity while covering the same story in the future? Maybe the news director should have taken a look at this first.

Whether it is stepping aside when a story involves a family member or an organization you are highly involved in, as a journalist you have to check yourself. In addition, news organizations have to tighten their policies on conflicts of interest. I stumbled upon the New York Times’ Ethics' Policy and found that their financial reporters can’t play the stock market. Now because I am not a finiancial reporter nor invested in the stock market, I hadn’t thought of this before but I am glad NYT has such a policy. This elimination of conflict of interest makes it easier for everyone involved….and other news organizations should follow this example. But it is not enough to just create policies, when a conflict arises action must be taken….either the issue is flagged and stopped or if a policy is broken, there needs to be consequences.

I’ll leave you all with this video.

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