Tuesday, August 30, 2016

To be Ethical, or not to be Ethical: Story Fabrication

Sarah Blankenship


What is important to you as a journalist? Are you in it to make a lot of money or to get attention? Maybe you want to make a difference or make people see things in a new light. How far would you go to make sure your aspirations for your journalism career went far?

In the 2003 film titled "Shattered Glass," Stephan Glass finds himself in a position of power in working for The New Republic and starts making some unethical decisions to get some attention. Steven Knowlton and Bill Reader in Moral Reasoning for Journalists shared, "Critics are saying that journalism has lost its way, that it no longer provides honest information in a form that readers and viewers can use." In the film, Glass fabricates multiple stories and brings himself plenty of attention before being brought down by the truth.

It is ironic that the newest story on The New Republic's website at the time of this post is also about changing the facts and keeping the truth from the public. Is everything that is going on in the world getting so boring that we have to make up or spice up our stories? When readers go to the stands or to their favorite news apps and websites they are trusting that what they read is the truth. We have the freedom of press and it is our duty to tell the public the truth.

Another case of story fabrication and downfall happened at the New York Times in 2003 with Jayson Blair. When stories like this surface it must make readers suspicious of what they are receiving from all news outlets. When the shock of these incidents dies down everyone goes back to everyday life as we know it and hope that it doesn't happen again.

Steven Knowlton and Bill Reader also make note, "... in the cacophony of press abuse (and, too often, self-righteous self-defense from journalist themselves) little constructive action is taken." Should readers pay more attention to the facts behind the stories they read?

In this day and age readers don't have time to fact-check their stories. They are on the go and shouldn't have to stop to think twice. To have a functioning society everyone needs to do their part. Journalists get the facts and shared them so that everyone else can stay informed; it should be as simple as that.

In the closing of the reading Moral Reasoning for Journalists, it states "... many working journalists consider what they do to be more like a calling; they think of journalism as both the bulwark of democracy and as the last and best defense of individual rights." Just as in any other profession or any situation in life, there are going to be people that lie to get ahead. It is not only in journalism and the news, but everywhere we go. All we can do is be skeptical and choose to make ethical decisions in our walks of life for the good of ourselves and the rest of society.

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