“Deadlines and Dilemmas: Media Ethics on the Job”
From Rebecca Taylor
by Cheyenne Schoen
It is important to be ethical when working in the media because…
- Reporters, even early in their careers, have significant power.
- Reporters, even rookies, enjoy significant autonomy in the field.
- Reporters, even rookies, have great discretion to make editorial decisions.
- Reporters operate under tight deadlines.
The consequences of being unethical in reporting can include:
- Job loss
- Career loss
- Impact on news organization
- Impact on the subject
- Impact on the profession
- When dealing with the survivors of victims, knock once or twice and then leave a business card. Most survivors want to have the chance to say something about their loved ones, and will likely call you when they can.
- Figure out what footage you can get or angles or perspectives you can take that other news stations don’t have.
- Reporters must be able to shoot and edit video.
- If you are unsure if something is acceptable to air, run it by your editor and ask if they are okay with it.
- Be able to express your sentiment with covering certain stories that you may feel differently about than your editors.
- You’ll be asked to conceal information a lot – don’t do it for favoritism.
- Always keep your editors informed about what is going on.
- If you are using footage from your archives, you must indicate that it is footage from the archives.
Duties as journalists:
You have a duty to be fair and accurate, honest, to avoid conflict of interests and to minimize harm.
Your duties are owed to: your profession, readers (audience), employers, the source and society.
Questionable reporting techniques:
- Hidden mics/cameras
- Faking natural sound (such as an ambulance)
- Video deception
- Improper editing
Minors’ names should not be published without the consent of their legal guardians. Likewise, the victims of sexual assault should not be named or described in a way that reveals their identity.