Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Different Levels of Conflict of Interest

Kelsey Hoak

There are many challenges that journalists face when writing an article or creating a story. They have to find an angle, they have to find sources and track them down for good quotes, they have to actually produce the story and then they have to worry about whether or not their editor will approve of all the work they just did. But recently more and more journalists are facing the dilemma of conflicts of interest.

These so called conflicts of interest can arise in many different situations. Sometimes they can be so small that the audience doesn't even pick up on it and other times they can be a big enough deal to cause the journalist to lose their job. It's up to each reporter to realize if there is a conflict of interest and how they should ethically handle it.

Getting Free Things... Or Bribing

A constant conflict of interest for journalists is whether or not they can accept free things. In the article I read about music journalists written by Derk Richardson, it explained that some of the journalists except the free demo CDs because they write their story off of the songs and they are using it strictly for the story. But there is a big difference between a simple free CD and an all inclusive paid for trip to a concert.

Some music journalists in the article said that publicists are supposed to hand out free things such as concert tickets and they hand it out knowing that a bad review could be coming. These journalists believe that it isn't a deal about writing a good review for free tickets.

I personally have to agree with Gina Arnold and say that the journalists wouldn't be informed critics without listening to the free CDs... it's where they are getting their "research." However, I also believe that there is a line that can't be crossed and accepting a free trip causes a journalists to run full sprint across that line.

But let's take a moment to ask: If it's wrong for a journalist to accept the bribes, then why don't we have people talking about how bad it is for someone to offer the bribe? Take for example this act committed by Kris Jenner. Obviously congratulations goes to Linda Stassi for not bothering accept the bribe and then continuing to tweet at Jenner. More journalists should call out these "bribers".

Kris Jenner from www.glamour.com/entertainment

When Emotions and Personal Lives Get Involved

But wait -- there is more to this whole conflicts of interest thing... a journalist's emotions. Yes, unlike what most people probably think, journalists do have souls and we do have emotions. We have a lot of them too. We spend so much time trying to push them all away and hide them all from affecting the fact that we have to cover stories about murder and other criminal activities that sometimes they pop up at the most inconvenient times. Take Anna Song for example. She lived in the same small community as two girls who were kidnapped then murdered and she got so involved in covering the story that she ended up speaking at the funeral for the girls.

Not a smart move Anna, not a smart move. But here is where the tricky part comes into play and where I start to ask my questions. According to the article by Howard Rosenberg, Song had questions about if it was ethical for her to speak at the funeral, but her news director told her to go forward with it. Journalists have to make these hard decisions every day about whether or not they should listen to their boss or stand up for their own morals.

There is also the issue of dealing with things directly related to your personal life outside of the business. Some journalists develop conflicts of interest when they begin to cover a story about their spouses employer and some people even have conflicts of interest in the stocks they own.

Back to the Money Side of Things

Okay, so after reading all of these articles I still think that the worst thing you can do is accept large free gifts and then claim to not write a biased article. It just ends up coming across to readers that you are only saying good things about the event because you were treated like royalty there. A rule of thumb to journalists would be to always turn down those bribes. Put the pencil down and back away from the story before your career goes down the drain.

No comments:

Post a Comment