Every day there are ethical decisions that impact the hundreds or thousands of people who watch, read, listen, and/or click on a media source. The foundation for making the right decision starts with ethics classes in college. Students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism will use this blog to reflect on ethical questions in the media today.
We live in a world today where journalists are often forced
to make choices about what they should and should not publish with little to no
guidance. While there are some ethical guidelines to help make things a little
easier to figure out, many of the choices journalists make are decisions that
might affect the rest of their lives and careers. One particularly tough spot
to be in as a journalist is embedded in the military. These journalists must be
careful what they choose to publish due to the life or death nature of the
location in which they are publishing about. Living and working with the
soldiers they write about presents an interesting dynamic, one in which can
easily blur the lines of ethical journalist practices.
One of the
biggest issues an embedded journalist faces is deciding when it is appropriate
to publish a story that might harm the group of soldiers stationed with versus
the need to keep the general public informed. The article “Recalling Life as anEmbedded Reporter,” is a great example of a personal account from a journalist
that lived through such an experience. Through his account, he recalls several
instances where his job conflicted with the friendships that he made with the
group of soldiers he was stationed with. His story, like many other journalists
presents the issue of whether to publish and hurt friends, or to not do his due
diligence as a reporter for the job that was assigned.
This can be
a very difficult place to be for a journalist. Many times journalists will
start to admire and become friends with the group of soldiers they are
stationed with which brings up the question of objectivity. Is it possible to
be objective when the people you are reporting about might just save your life?
Can we as the American public even expect objectivity from these journalists?
Although answers remain somewhat of a mystery, especially on how to solve these
problems; without the use of embedded journalism, we run the risk of letting
ongoing wars become hushed.
So many of
our war veteran’s stories have gone largely untold due to journalists not
taking the next step in post war follow-ups. While embedded journalism is
important and necessary for current wars, we need to be doing better jobs as
journalists to uncover the real stories behind some of the older war veterans.
Much of what is taught in school to kids is largely based on the wins and loses
of the war, while the stories of actual veterans goes untold. Being the future
of the journalism community, its our job to start earlier with interviewing
these veterans so that more stories can be told from people who were actually
there to share their experiences.
who is strongly in favor of the U.S. military, I’m proud to say that projects
like “Exit Wounds” are making these soldiers experiences more of a reality. It
will be interesting whether the journalism community will also jump on this initiative to make more stories known in the future.