Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's Talk About Ethics and Legal Issues

Its not uncommon that journalist encounter ethical and legal issues that can get them into hot water sometimes, in time, you learn the do's and don't's of the business and how to avoid them, but in my opinion there are three issues that standout above all the rest.

The first is Ethical Issue #1: Using Anonymous Sources. I believe that protecting one's source is paramount due to the wishes of the individual. The anonymous individual may choose not to reveal themselves for numerous reasons such as fear of endangerment of their lives or loved ones. The person could have felt that revealing such vital information was for the greater good, but wanted to avoid the attention by not risking being identified. I feel in instances where the source is linked as an accomplice to a crime then the identity of that person should be shown or notify authorities about the person in question. Generally, you don't want to betray the trust of your source, you may need them for a future story or follow up information, but if you don't adhere to their wishes then you may compromise the relationship between journalist and source.

The second is Ethical Issue #5: Deception in Gathering Information. I feel that a journalist should not risk their reputation and credibility for a story. Journalism should be based on truth and honesty when retrieving accurate facts to present to the public. You don't want to lose the trust of your colleagues or the public. One's integrity should always be exhibited in every act they do and never come to the point of questioning. For example, going undercover and posing as something your not such as a gun seller could jeopardize your story and would not be an ethical decision to make. I firmly believe that if a story involves sinking to a new low for yourself then it shouldn't be done unless there' a positve approach.

The third is Ethical Issue # 2: Plagiarism and Fabrication. This is definitely a big issue in the field of journalism. A journalist nor anyone for that matter should consider or practice plagiarism for accomplishing a story. Plagiarism is an act of stealing information that is not an original work based on your own talent. Attributing information is extremely necessary showing appreciation and giving proper credit to the individual or company. I believe there is no excuse for doing such an act, it shows the laziness of the individual, discredits them and generates a lost of trust. I believe once you commit a false act, it follows you. An individual should never feel that just because they've never been caught that it won't happen. This is why it is crucial to be a professonal of standand and decent contributor to accurate reporting.

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