Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is telling this story worth it?

Keily Balduff

Photo courtesy of: http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2010/01/18/MoirAABC.jpg

Journalists are the pieces to the puzzle of how to deliver the news. Oftentimes, the news that needs to be told is unsettling, morally upsetting, and so many other awful things. When presented with the challenge to tell the stories that need to be told, it is crucial for journalists of every kind to make good ethical decisions.

Starting off Small

The second question in a list of "10 Questions to Make Good Ethical Decisions," published by Bob Steele, is as followed, "What is my journalistic purpose?" This is a great way to begin to look at the story that needs told. Whether it be a public relations professional, a news anchor, or the every day journalist, the journalistic purpose of what you are doing needs to be defined. The journalistic purpose sits above any personal reasoning or "good deed" doing. There is to be one purpose in mind and it should be clear as day- good journalism.

The Who

"Who are affected by my decision? What are their motivations? Are they legitimate?" This sixth question on the list enables journalists to really look at who they are providing the information to. Who is the news for? In the reporting of the Brock Turner rape case, the people affected by all journalists decisions go far beyond the victim. As a journalist, you would have to think of all survivors of sexual assaults or any trauma that could be triggered by the way in which you report your story.

While human nature kicks in and you find yourself taking the side of the victim and maybe even harshly regarding Turner, the way you present this story will affect people far beyond the victim and Turner himself. Hopefully, for this specific case, the news stories will find themselves resonating with men and women all over the world. Journalists need to establish who is going to be affected by each word typed, spoken or shown.

Ripple Effects

The eighth question, "What are the possible consequences of my actions? Short term? Long term?" I find this question to be a great opportunity to discuss the Spotlight story from the Boston Globe. The basis of a movie, the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe uncovered and reported the very controversial case of cover up in the Catholic church. Below is a trailer for the film.

Spotliight Trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg5zSVxx9JM

The trailer is intense, but the story behind it was earth-shattering. An article titled Spotlight Journalists Didn't Foresee Impact of Church Abuse Investigation in the Boston Globe outlines how the consequences of telling this story have had a lasting effect. Once the story was published in the Boston Globe, the same scandal was uncovered in more that 100 cities, nationally and globally. 

The consequences of telling this story for the journalists weighed heavy as the Catholic church was not a force to be questioned. Writing and telling this story has led to long term effects. To this day, officials of the Catholic church are being removed from their positions. It seems that the short term consequences to telling this news story were worth the risk. The anger and denial that was thrown at the journalists was a short term consequence they bore, because this was something that needed to be told. 

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