If you follow the news, you might have heard that two Dartmouth profs were murdered over the weekend. Nobody really knows much beyond that. It’s very strange on campus right now, to say the least.
About the only thing that the majority of campus can agree on is that we want the press to go away. This puts me in an interesting position because I am a member of the press. (albeit not actively writing for a paper at the moment.) There have been points in time in the past few days where I just… well, wanted to get into a serious discussion about ethics.
Some of the things that they’re doing that are, in my opinion, unethical:
-Trying to harrass students into commenting.
-Going in the dorms (which is illegal) and asking utterly loaded questions. “So, do you feel safe on campus knowing that someone was brutally murdered? Are you aware of any nighttime visitors to the dorms?”
-Standing outside the German House and harassing it’s residents. (One of the profs was chair of the German Department.)
-Speculation. They’re painting us as the close knit, quaint Ivy League school that’s been shattered to the core. It gets to your head. I’ve never been so terrified walking home by myself as I was this evening.
I’m not trying to be sheltered. I know that news is a business like any other, and these are the things with which papers are sold. People seem to want the quote from the grieving family, the gore of the day, the important fact that just might save your life.
I think that news should be truth, though, and I have a hard time accepting ambush tactics as truth. To me, journalism is telling a story, telling it well, and telling it right. Freedom of the press doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk. (As I write this, I’m pretty sure I’ll never get a big paper job with this attitude.)
Teeming millions, what would you consider journalistic ethics? Is there a balance that can be struck between telling the story accurately and crossing a line? What is the line? What place does ethics have in journalism?