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Questioning the Media Chapter 14

April 10, 2012

“How would you go about formulating an ethical policy with regards to using deceptive means to get a story?”

My main ideas about this question go along with what Josh said in class, the level of deception and foul play involved with getting a story should be directly relative to whether it involves a public or private citizen. A public citizen (more along the lines of political publicity) is going to be more vulnerable to attempted deception by the media to get a story. That seems to me to simply be a side effect of that publicity. Like Jonathan referenced in class, the scene from Thank You For Smoking where Katie Holmes character sleeps with Aaron Eckhart’s character in order to get a story out of his pillow talk. Yes, his character is a person with a son and a life, but his publicity is completely due to the fact that he is a lobbyist for “big tobacco”. That was a situation where it wasn’t the person that was deceived as much as the position. That is the main point that I think draws the line. A public citizen is not pursued for themselves, they are chased because of the position they hold.

A private citizen deserves much more respect in the media than a public citizen. Any news coverage of a private citizen should be conducted in a manner that is considerate to the fact that they are reporting on a person, not a position like the case of a private citizen. A private citizen does not have the PR people and training that a public citizen would have. A private citizen is not going to have the conditioning to better handle that aggressive and deceptive means and is more likely to fall prey to these mannerisms.

Those are basically my simple ideas as to what is ethical treatment of private vs. public citizens. That is roughly what any policy i would construct would consist of, but there has to be that line somewhere. I personally dislike deception in the media because that just seems to be a rude sly tactic to get information that could be very unethical. But I suppose that in some cases, its usefulness could be argued against certain situations, but over all I think that most deceptive tactics use for todays journalism would simply be overkill to any important stories that need to be covered. Yet I do hold to the fact that in some situations, the ends do justify the means when it comes to sneaky and even unethical journalism.

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