Ethics and Journalism

Journalism is changing rapidly. We all know that. A question has been raised by Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star whether these desperate times of journalists struggling for their jobs cause them to be unethical. I found this topic interesting, because it could very well be true. Journalists are struggling right now with the rise of online and citizen journalism. Could it get to the point where journalists actually fabricate stories to keep their jobs?
Mary Sanchez writes about ethics and journalism because “Jayson Blair, the plagiarizing, fabricate-as-you-go former New York Times reporter, was invited to speak with journalism students at Washington and Lee University on, of all things, ethics.” Jayson Blair was a journalist for the New York Times that fabricated dozens of stories as he wrote for one of the nation’s most influential newspapers. This is interesting because he talked about how he screwed up to tons of students and future journalists that want to have the job that he had.
Sanchez also makes note of CNN‘s Lou Dobbs recently resigning from the news team. Lou Dobbs had built up a reputation for himself about illegal immigration. On his news show, he would put on extremists of the issue, and claim them as an expert. Dobbs would also claim false information to be fact. For example, he said that “one-third of the nation’s prison inmates are illegal immigrants, [when] in fact, less than 7 percent of inmates are noncitizens, whether here illegally or not.”
Blair and Dobbs had different forms of presenting poor judgment and bad journalism, but they were both desperate. To me, this reminds me of one of the topics that we were talking about with Lisa Williams on Thursday. Blogging is a new form of writing, but I’m curious to know if it is always journalism. The reason why I don’t think it is always journalism is because like Williams said, bloggers already know what they are going to say on a topic, and aren’t expecting to learn something new. But, when you are a journalist trying to write a story, you always learn something new in your interviews, and your story could in fact end up taking a different turn with the new information you learned from your subjects.
It’s so easy to post something online these days, and a journalist has to remember that even when posting things online, you still have to hold those same journalistic values, standards, and ethics that you would when writing for a print publication. Don’t get desperate as a writer, and stick to the truth.

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