Personal Understandings and Reflections (and Regrets) with the Code of Ethics

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.

PressMan

Much like this random character from The Simpsons

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.

SOURCES CITED:
Build Your Own Ethics Code: Online News Association – ethics.journalists.org/
Bell Gardens Mayor, Elac Alum Killed –
elaccampusnews.com/2014/10/15/bell-gardens-mayor-elac-alum-killed/

During Emotional Hearing, Wife Of Slain Bell Gardens Mayor Sentenced To Jail Time, Probation in His Killing –
latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bell-gardens-mayor-wife-sentencing-20170120-story.html

9 thoughts on “Personal Understandings and Reflections (and Regrets) with the Code of Ethics

  1. Hi Sergio.

    Great post.
    You already caught my attention with the video you included, that was clever. I think in code of ethics it important to find what you agree with because if not you’ll only be doing what you think is right, and i mean isn’t that where being ethically right or wrong comes into play.
    Overall I think we are all trying to create our own standards, and what we think is the right way to go.
    good job!

    -Brenda Sanchez

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an impactful experience and story behind your story. Thanks for sharing it.
    As a student journalist faced with breaking news, I think you did a fine job of crafting, basically, an obituary for this community leader who died. The L.A. Times story about the trial with details of abuse came out three years later. Reporters, on a daily basis, have to go out and find sources who can speak about an event, topic or person. We do our best to find those who can provide a richer understanding of the subject at hand. I argue that bias in inevitable. If you find someone who cares enough to talk to you, that person probably has a perspective. The best we can do is continue to cover the story, talk to more people with different perspectives and fill in the blanks as we go.
    Welcome back to the reporting life! I’ll look forward to seeing your byline — perhaps in our student press?

    Like

    • Thanks for the welcome back! Yeah, I think it is something that has stuck with me and wanted to relate to bias and my own mind when covering said story.

      As for student press, yes, that would be amazing. I actually replied in the comments back in September about being in there. More than likely next semester or even sooner if possible!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really liked your post because you were willing to look at your own past work from a critical point of view. Too many times we just make excuses and keep going. So being critical is important. But so also is giving yourself credit for doing the original reporting and revisiting it as you are doing now. That’s the origin of wisdom!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sergio! What an insightful and well-organized post. You shared such an amazing experience that worked well with pointing out your code of ethics. It made it a lot easier for me to actually break down, so thank you. Also, I think it’s really cool that you’re going back to the reporting lifestyle. After all, you seem to be really good at it! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

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