Spreading the Message

In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and killed while on an assignment in Pakistan. Before his murder, Pearl was taped denouncing U.S. Foreign policy and confessing his Jewish faith. Pearl was then killed on camera, and his head was held aloft by one of the captors.

As gruesom as the footage is, CBS determined it necessary to air clippings during the evening news. While no graphic depictions or the actual murder were included, the airing sparked controversy between CBS and Pearl’s family.

CBS argued that the airing was intended to give light to the type of blatant propaganda being used against the United States. Pearl’s family, on the other hand, deems the video inappropriate, claiming that it serves to further the message of hatred initiated by the murders. Additionally, members of the justice department expressed concern that eventually the unedited tape would become public.

This became reality when the Boston Phoenix linked the unideted version later in the year. A week later, the publication included images of Pearl’s decapitated head in the hard copy of the paper.

The publication of the video by reputable news sources was unethical and disrespectful to the memory of a fellow journalist. While the story was important, there are limits on the graphic nature that should be available for viewers. Including the footage inspires hatred on both sides of the line. It not only brings awareness to Americans, but also terrorist sympathizers.

The inclusion of graphic decapitation photos in a newspaper is completely reckless. Publications which are accessible to the general public, including children, have a social responsibility to protect the readers.

It can be concluded that the publication of both the video and summary were unethical and disrespectful.


All the President’s Men

Hoffman and Redford as Bernstein and Woodward

     All the President’s Men is a 1976 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford based on the true story of the exposition of the Nixon administration’s involvement in the Watergate break-in.
     The film is a fairly accurate portrayal of events, helped by the assistance of Bernstein and Woodward in writing and production. The sets, clothing, and methods portrayed all coincide with the book of the same title. Though some elements may seem unrealistic, such as the active threat from the CIA,  the reporters themselves, trained in accuracy and detail, supported the factuality.
     The film shows both the best and worst aspects of American society. The Nixon administration’s corruption and manipulation is an example of one of the darkest points in the American government. In contrast, the ability of the journalists to research and expose the conspiracy showcases the benifits of the constitution and American law.

The Pimp, the Prostitute, and the Preacher

The case study, The Pimp, the Prostitute, and the Preacher, brings to light a number of ethical delimas as highlighted in the class discussion.

In the case study, a preacher is called as a witness in an illeal prostitution case. While the names of other witnesses are unpublished, the reporter questions whether or not to include the name of the preacher in his story. The inclusion of the preacher’s name may cause him to lose his job and destroy his family.

It was noted in class that the preacher is a “public figure” and therefore the publication of his name in connection with the case is in the best interest of public knowledge.

On this point, I disagree. The preacher in a well-populated area is not a true public official. He is unaffiliated with government activities or funding. His decisions do not greatly affect the way the majority of the population lives their lives. His sphere of influence may extend to the congregation of his church, but will not realisticly cause behavior changes elsewhere.

This idea complies with the seperation of church and state. Church officials are not members of government and therefore included in the principal of fair public comment.

The right of the preacher’s wife to be informed of the occurances was also asserted by a classmate. While this is a morally sound point, it is not the responsability of the journalist to inform her. This task should fall to the preacher, and him alone. His actions as an individual within his marriage are not open to outside comment.

As a journalist, it is important to evaluate the news value of the story. The trial resulted in dismissal, and at that point is no longer relevant to public interest. The question of whether or not prostitution occured is never legally established. On this point, if prostitution was not effectively proven, one can not legally accuse the preacher of illegal activity. Such publication could prove risky and result in a libel suit against the paper.

At the end of the day, the general public has no investment in the preacher and it is not relevant news.

Moral Compass

A moral compass is defined as anything which serves to guide decisions based on values and virtues. This can range from culture, to parenting, or even friends. These influences may be subtle or obvious.

Personally, I believe that my moral compass is influenced by my parents and life in small town Missouri. My views on life are largely conservative. The few topics that I agree with liberally are related directly to people I personally know.

My parents have always taught me to be reserved, and that reservation has carried over into my decision making. When choosing whether to risk something dangerous or play it safe, I more often than not choose the option that is unlikely to harm me in any way.

Growing up in Missouri, I learned the importance of supporting local businesses and agriculture. This influences my shopping decisions. When given the option of shopping at a Farmer’s Market or local store, I choose that option over the big-box chains such as Wal-Mart.

The voice in my head when making major decisions is my own. Though influenced in many ways by outside sources, at the end of the day I make my own choices. I often disagree with what my family, roommates, and boyfriend would do if they were in my place.

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