In journalism and broadcasting, there is a certain code of ethics all must abide by. This code of ethics changes from place to place, but in the end, is built upon our moral understandings and rooted in our own idea of what is ethical. It was interesting embarking on the first steps of building our own code of personal code of ethics with the ONA Ethics site. It gives insight on what one will face with working and when reporting in the field. We are beginning journalist after all starting our reporting life even if I started this journey back in 2012, minus the cliched “Press” fedora and pen in the ear ready to go.
There have been past experience with this within my own reporting. In the “Interviewing” portion, this is where one can find out what exactly delves and goes into the act of interviewing. This is where things can be make-or-break in our story. Can we get more information or more insight? What exactly can make it to the page and what is off the record not for public consumption? This is what came to play once when I had to interview a former colleague of the mayor of my hometown of Bell Gardens back in 2014.
Mayor Daniel Crespo had been fatally shot and killed by his wife in self-defense of her son being faced with abuse. The story, still fresh at the time of reporting, was more centered on what the mayor did in the past rather than what he did in the present. The only source was his pal from back in his East Los Angeles College who was the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 2014. When interviewing him, there was always this air of what should be said, what should be off the record and even if there was too much conflict of interest that lingered in our conversation.
This comes into the reliability of the “Source” portion of the toolkit. Was the source totally reliable due to his past relationship with the victim? Would he give an unbiased answer to the question? To counteract this, or even add a different perspective, was to interview someone in the same residency as him. That source felt much closer to the “ordinary person” answer since they lived within the complex and did not feel that there was a complete bias there as they seldom knew them. Their answer was more on the surface in comparison to the deeper answers the first source gave me. The story was more a quick reflection of the man’s life, rather than the details of the whole case.
I regret most of that story due to the later details of the whole murder case and trial involving domestic abuse and self-defense. Honestly, in retrospect, I would have gone beyond the fluff piece and those two sources to dive into a deeper story, maybe even get more reliable and unbiased sources. Then again, I’m barely re-beginning this journey anew in 2019, five years away from the days of 2014, to discover what exactly goes into my own code and idea of ethics.
Build Your Own Ethics Code: Online News Association – ethics.journalists.org/
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