Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Good luck, being ethical can be hard

By Dylan Sams
ds834910@ohio.edu

                                               Edward R. Murrow — Wikimedia Commons

Good Night and Good Luck
 tells the story of Edward R. Murrow and how he came to take on Senator Joseph McCarthy as the politician led the nation in a 'Red Scare,' declaring people as Communist without any evidence. McCarthy operated as judge, jury and executioner.

Murrow's interest in McCarthy is sparked after reading a story about Milo Radulovich, a lieutenant who was discharged because of his father and sister being supposed Communist sympathizers. In the movie, two colonels hear that Murrow and CBS are going to broadcast an interview with Radulovich. The two officers ask producer Fred Friendly to not broadcast the show because they felt they were acting with the military's best interest. In their mind, Radulovich was indeed a security risk.

Murrow's quandry is whether or not the story should be broadcast. Murrow had the possibility of being perceived as biased for attacking McCarthy, no matter how bad the senator seemed. There was also the problem with advertisers pulling out their support for Murrow's show because they did not want to viewed as attacking McCarthy.

The senator could then find some way to connect those companies in some way to Communists, nor did they want to be affiliated with a possible pro Communist man, which McCarthy would immediately tie Murrow to due to Murrow's criticism on his program.

To allow themselves to run the broadcast and fulfill the journalistic standard of informing the public, McCarthy said he and Friendly would pay for the broadcast themselves. This broadcast, shown in the movie was too important for the people to not know about it, and so Murrow and CBS ran with the story.

In Good Night and Good Luck, Murrow is shown meeting with his producer and the rest of the news team, asking for any sort of connection anyone he worked with may have with Communism that McCarthy could exploit. This was the right thing to do. To ask was responsible. If the news team had in some way been connected to the movement, the show immediately would have lost all credibility and viewed as hypocritical. 

The show also covered themselves by allowing the Armed Forces and McCarthy to respond to their story, allowing them to give their perspective. Ethically, it's the most sound thing they did to protect the story. If they are unwilling to comment it reflects on them personally.

The strongest part about their reporting is that they allowed Radulovich and later McCarthy to speak in their own words. They were doing their part to inform, while stepping away and letting the words of both parties speak for themselves, making the story ethically sound.

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