Keeping it Ethical: Journalism

Gillian Andresen and Marisa Skertich

Journalism has existed for as long as a pencil could meet paper. The job of a journalist is to report the truth by following the code of ethics. The Society of Professional Journalists require that all members seek truth and report it, use multiple sources, fact check, and do your service to the audience. Journalists also face ethical dilemmas when reporting. The five main dilemmas are: Protecting the source, protecting the victim, privacy, conflicts of interest, and audience as a customer. Often journalist tend to face issues regarding these dilemmas. Are you familiar with the ethics and dilemmas of journalism? Can you think of any examples?

In the case of “A Rape on Campus,” journalist, Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone, interviewed a student at the University of Virginia. The student, “Jackie,” told her story about being invited to her first frat by a lifeguard leading to being gang raped by members of the fraternity. Jackie remained anonymous and would not name the lifeguard or any of the brothers, but Erdley went on to publish the story anyway. The story went viral and raised some concerns. Even though it had been fact checked, the audience realized the story had to have been fabricated. This hurt the credibility of the writer, the magazine, and even survivors of rape. Should the people involved be held accountable? If you were a survivor of sexual assault how would this impact your actions for reporting?

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