Monday, September 12, 2016

Journalists Ethical Responsibility to tell the Whole Truth

Christina Brosovich

Journalists are tasked with informing the public about what is going on in the world. They must always tell the truth and have the most accurate information. It seems easy enough to find a story and gather as much accurate information as possible. However, journalists have to decide what the public should know. This task is not easy because, in journalism, not telling the whole story is lying.

The readings for Tuesday, September 13, 2016, require the reader to consider what is not only newsworthy, but what is ethical to cover. One reading discussed how the BTK killer interacted with newspapers before he was arrested. It was up to the editor to decide whether or not the newspaper would run letters from the BTK killer. The editor had a duty to keep the public informed, but doing so would cause a relationship between the newspaper and a killer.

Many people do not trust the media because journalists will omit information that could be crucial to the public's understanding of a story, or just not report a story. According to an article on Princeton University Press' website, Why is Everyone Mad at the Mainstream Media, a man reminisces about his grandfather reading the New York Times. He says, "who was [my grandfather] to decide what, of the material in the Times' editors had chose to publish, he had the right to skip?" This man's grandfather would not skip a story, but the editors could have made the decision not to publish something that could be important or valuable to his man.

Journalists' loyalty should be to the readers, not to any political, financial or personal agenda. For example, if a news company is covering the upcoming presidential election, they should cover both candidates equally. They should not cover the good one candidate does if they only publish stories on the other candidate being bad.

Credit for exposing the Watergate scandal goes to two journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. These journalists did a deep investigation about the DNC and uncovered a great deal of information that lead to the downfall of the Nixon administration. These men choose to report on something that they easily could have shied away from because of the potential negative consequences of exposing political dishonesty. It is important for reports to know they are ethically required to report on things if they have accurate and valid information, even if it seems controversial.

Journalists have an ethical duty to report on controversial and difficult topics. The truth is nothing unless the public is given the whole truth. Not telling the whole truth is what causes media outlets to gain a reputation of being biased and untrustworthy. If journalists do not tell the whole story, they may as well not tell the story at all.

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