Moral minefields: legal and moral dilemma

Posted: July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
This week’s topic is about legal and ethical codes in journalism which was presented by Josephine and Yale. So what is ethics? It is ™“a set of prescriptive rules, principles, values and virtues of character that inform and guide interpersonal and intrapersonal conduct” (Briet, 2007 p.309). I was aware that being a journalist is quite a dangerous job but I was surprised when I was told the statistics about the number of journalists killed in recent years. Only in 2011, 21 journalists have been killed. I think this is a very high figure that reflects how tensed and dangerous when a journalist involve in gathering and reporting news, especially those involving in hard news. Then how far should a journalist go for a story? How far should the journalist protect their sources? I think these two questions are very interesting to discuss. In my opinion, if a journalist is afraid of being in danger when reporting news, then he should quit the job and look for another one. The first and also the must requirement for being a journalist is that he has to be brave enough to bring wrongdoings into the light of justice. However, the point I want to make here is that journalists who involve in such dangerous cases should seek for help from related authority to secure their own safety. I think it is the best to achieve both goals: justice and safety. We can’t say that journalists should forgo their own safety to guard justice. Maybe there are journalists who are very enthusiastic to do so, but with the increasing number of journalists killed every year, how many journalists will be ready to forgo their own safety to bring wrongdoings in to the light? Up to my knowledge, I know that there’s an organization called Committee to Protect Journalists. It is a non-profit organization based in New York City that promotes press freedom and depends the rights of journalists (Press Freedom online, 2011). The Committee also administers the annual CPJ International Press Freedom Awards which honour journalists and press freedom advocates who have endured beatings, threats, intimidation, and prison for reporting the news. So, actually there is no organization in the world which is to protect and secure journalists’ safety when they involve in severe cases. I think we should get the authority (maybe one government body) set up an organization whose task is to protect journalists when they get into dangerous cases. Meanwhile, I suggest journalist shouldn’t work alone on a case. They should work in a team, a group of people to protect each other. This may help to reduce the tragic murder of journalists.
Then how far should a journalist protect their sources? I think it doesn’t only concern about moral values, but also professionalism. Nobody will be again ready to help a journalist who reveals their sources when they are not supposed to. In my opinion, a journalist must protect their sources no matter what happens. I think this is also one of the reasons which causes many murders of journalists recent years. In such a case, both journalist and their sources are very much in danger. So the problem again is that should there be an organization to protect journalists and their sources? I think there should be. How about you? If yes, then who do you think should govern the organization? How about international correspondents? Who should they seek for help when they are in danger?

References
™Breit, R. (2007). Law & Ethics For Professional Communicators, LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, New South Wales.

™‘CPJ’ [Online] Attacks on the press.  Available: http://www.cpj.org/2001/03/attacks-on-the-press-2000-vietnam.php  [Accessed 26 June 2011].

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Comments
  1. Josephine says:

    Hello Khanh!
    Yup, I think those journalists that protected their sources at all costs has great moral values. It is easier to betray someone than to actually go through the torturing process, don’t you think so? I think that despite the committee setup to protect journalists, injustice and murdering of journalists still prevail. In my opinion, it is really not easy to make a choice when all factors come together. 🙂

  2. Andy Wang says:

    Dear khanh,
    I agree with you that safety is and should be a huge concern for journalists. While getting to the bottom of a news story is important, one should not neglect personal safety. I think the best form of security one can have is from your own employers. If newspaper organisations give their employees the fullest protection and support, reporters can be assured that they are well-covered should there be anything that goes wrong in the midst of carrying out their duty.
    -Andy
    http://www.cmns3420andy.blogspot.com

  3. Andy Wang says:

    Dear khanh,
    I agree that safety is and should be a huge concern for journalists. While getting to the bottom of a news story is important, one should not neglect personal safety. I think the best form of security one can have is from your own employers. If newspaper organisations give their employees the fullest protection and support, reporters can be assured that they are well-covered should there be anything that goes wrong in the midst of carrying out their duty.
    -Andy
    http://www.cmns3420andy.blogspot.com

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