Moral Reasoning for Journalists: Cases and Commentary

Overview

The nature of journalism requires that an ethical decision be made at every stage. While many of these decisions lead to obvious choices, many present thorny problems; some questions may be so subtle that they are not even noticed consciously by the journalist. This up-to-date collection of more than two dozen real-life cases illustrates the moral issues facing contemporary American journalists. It will help students hone their reasoning skills, encouraging them to think rationally and act with integrity. The ...

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Overview

The nature of journalism requires that an ethical decision be made at every stage. While many of these decisions lead to obvious choices, many present thorny problems; some questions may be so subtle that they are not even noticed consciously by the journalist. This up-to-date collection of more than two dozen real-life cases illustrates the moral issues facing contemporary American journalists. It will help students hone their reasoning skills, encouraging them to think rationally and act with integrity. The cases are presented in substantial detail to provide students with a realistic sense of the complexity of issues facing journalists today.

Knowlton, a veteran journalist and teacher, combines his experience of more than 30 years in the field with extensive interviews with dozens of today's top journalists, so that each case is presented with commentary and thought-provoking analysis. Discussion questions at the end of each case analysis probe the depth of the ethical concerns raised. This book can be used as a stand-alone text, as a supplemental casebook, or in conjunction with the companion anthology, The Journalist's Moral Compass: Basic Principles (Praeger, 1994).

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Thirty-six original and reprinted contributions discuss ethical journalism and present colorful case studies illustrating such ethical debates as the relevance of politicians' past and private lives; filming grief; the reality of the wall between the advertising and news side of journalism; speaking fees; composite pictures; whether executions should be recorded by TV cameras; and how close is too close when the subject is a scared little girl. Each essay concludes with a set of questions for further discussion. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275948719
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/25/1997
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVEN R. KNOWLTON is Associate Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
A Note to Instructors
Pt. I Locating Ethical Journalism in the Western Tradition 1
1 Introduction to Ethical Thinking 3
2 The Political Case for Moral Reasoning in Journalism 14
3 The Philosophical Case for Moral Reasoning in Journalism 23
4 The Economic Case for Moral Reasoning in Journalism 29
5 Objectivity: Is It Possible? Should We Still Try? 36
6 Privacy: How to Balance It against the Right to Know 50
7 How to Solve Moral Dilemmas: Balancing Competing Elements 59
Pt. II Case Studies: Tough Calls from the Front Lines of Contemporary Journalism 63
8 The Suicide of Admiral Boorda: Did the Press Hound Him to His Death? 64
9 The Haunting Profile of Meir Kahane: Should Past Sins Be Emphasized? 69
10 A Candidate's Past: News, Political Manipulation or Mere Pandering? 74
11 Peeking at Tonya Harding's E-mail: Serious Invasion or Trivial Excess? 80
12 Central Park Assault Victim: We Know Everything but Who She Is 85
13 The Brilliant Student with the Dark Past: How Much Is Relevant? 89
14 Sex in an Elevator: Legitimate News or Sophomoric Titillation? 94
15 Suicide: Important News or a Grotesque Invasion of Privacy? 98
16 Unnamed Accusers: Sex, Abuse of Power, and an Election, Too 106
17 In Politics, How Far Back Is It Fair to Go? 111
18 When the Law Asks for Help: What Is an Independent Journalist to Do? 114
19 The Graffiti Artists: Turn 'Em In, Get the Story, or Both? 119
20 Connie Chung: Did She Sandbag the New Speaker's Mom? 124
21 Primary Authorship: Can You Lie about Your Other Job? 129
22 A Reporter with AIDS: Depth of Understanding or Obvious Bias? 134
23 How Close Is Too Close When the Subject Is a Scared Little Girl? 141
24 The Exploding Truck: If It Doesn't Have Pictures, It's Not Good TV 147
25 Should TV Cameras Record an Execution? 152
26 Tears on Tape: Why Must We Film Grief? 158
27 How Real Is the Wall between Advertising and the News Side? 162
28 The 'Revisionist' Ads on the Holocaust: What Should Student Editors Do? 166
29 Speaking Fees: Honest Moonlighting or an Invitation to Corruption? 172
30 Celebrity Interviews: Is There Real News amidst the Puff? 176
31 A Lorena Bobbitt Update: Paint My Nails, Answer My Questions 180
32 Ruth Snyder: Still Dead but Now Her Picture Is Mainstream 184
33 Composite Pictures: New Possibilities or Just More Credibility Trouble? 188
34 The Grisly War Photo: Powerful Information, but What about Taste? 194
35 Taking Journalism Hostage: Should We Print under Threats? 201
36 Can We Fix the Problems? Should We Try? 205
Bibliography 210
Index 213
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