Monday, December 1, 2008

Journalistic issues

It is always difficult to choose just a few ethical and legal issues to discuss as being the "most important." In my mind, they are equally as important and as severe when compared to each other. However, there are three issues listed in "All the News" that have always stuck out to me.

1. Plagiarism and Fabricaton: To me, there is nothing worse than making stuff up. The fact of the matter is, if someone commits either of them they shouldn't be allowed to really call themselves journalists. Fabrication is writing something that isn't true, such as coming up with fake quotes. Fabrication is writing fiction. If you prefer to fabricate information, you should be writing fiction novels and not articles for a news source. Plagarizing is taking someone else's quotes or writing and using them as your own, which is essentially stealing. Both of these are ethically despicable for journalists to try and pull and it disturbs me that writers at major newspapers try to pull it off today.

2. Libel: Libel is always a touchy subject. People who become the subject of bad or negative news will sometimes call out "libel!" to try to defend themselves. However, the definition of libel itself is difficult to really spell out sometimes. When something is negative it's not usually libel. Real libel is essentially lying in order to deface someone in a newspaper. To me, when libel really happens, it appears to be the result of some kind of personal grudge the writer or the newspaper has against the person who is being defamation. Real libel just shouldn't even be happening in the first place, but if it doesthe people responsible need to admit what happened.

3. Conflicts of interest: Journalists are human. Humans have relationships with other humans. But when these relationships get in the way of journalistic integrity, they can cause conflicts of interest. For example, if a woman is the head of the school board, and that woman's husband is a journalist at a local paper, he probably shouldn't be covering school board meetings. If he did, it would not only look bad on his part - because he likely wouldn't be able to objectively cover anything the board did - but it would make the paper look bad as well for letting him do so.