Sunday, January 23, 2005

This week in Journalistic Ethics 103: Burying a story.

(Assume for the moment that it's true and newsworthy.) When can you bury it? When printing it will directly cause certain, material harm? When printing it is likely to cause a negative effect?

Come to think of it, why is that an issue at all? Why do journalists do what they do? (Besides a paycheck, a job they happen to enjoy, etc.) Do they do it because they believe in a code of ethics stating that learning, discovery, and the truth - The Truth - and its dissemination are moral imperatives? Or do they do it because of the more general, universal rule that mankind should help one another and make the world a better place, and making useful (useful, entertaining, whatever) information more accessible is just their chosen way to do it?

Well, enough high-minded babbling. It got me thinking deep thoughts, but it's not relevant to this particular case - keeping my friend's problem buried would be impossible, even if I did want to.

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