Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Questions of ethics, questions of temperament
1. You're doing a story on those who take jobs for Halliburton-KBR to work in Iraq. The company hosts a job fair at their facilities where they're accepting a good majority of applicants on the spot. When you show up, do you have to identify yourself as a reporter? If not, on the application they give you, what do you put down? Is it ethical to approach other applicants there for interviews?
2. You're doing a story on a Muslim version of The Onion and young Muslim comedians. You hit it off in an interview with one of the comedians and, on the way out of the interview, he asks if you want to smoke up. Do you blaze? Do you include that in the story? (Knowing that, in all likelihood, the kid didn't realize that you, in the reporter and not "new friend" role, might consider including a detail like that.)
3. You're doing an investigative piece on a woman who ran a wolf sanctuary and all the wolves died due to incompetence. You know the evidence in the piece is going to hammer her pretty hard (after the story runs, you get an email from her that contains, among other things, the phrase "ruined my life"). During an interview at her home, you realize she is keeping two wolves as pets, which is against city codes. Later, before the story runs, she begs you not to include that detail as they are her "family" apparently and they'll be impounded. There's plenty of other damning material - do you run the wolves at home bit?
4. It's Super Bowl week. Your paper has sold the front page as an advertisement to Budweiser. Not just any advertisement, but an ad that's made to look like the real front page template of your paper - sort of teasing stories/hype about Budweiser inside. It will wrap around the real cover of the paper. Your best friend at the paper wants to quit because he thinks they've violated a sacred space. Is it that serious of a transgression? Is there a difference between selling the back cover and inside front cover and the front cover itself?
Hope all is well in Cali.