Since becoming a journalist student, I realize how much work actually goes into getting a great story. A good journalist must truly commit herself in order to correctly research and write a high-quality story. Being a journalist comes along with a great level of responsibility as well. It is expected that a journalist’s writing remains as objective as possible, containing accurate facts, names, and other sources. If a journalist were to slander, lie, or post inaccurate information in their story, it would directly go against what is ethically expected from them as a respected journalist. Therefore, ethics does play a significant role in a journalist’s profession and must always be taken very seriously.
Anyone can get a story if they don’t need to play by the rules. What makes a great story, and a great journalist, is learning how to get to the truth in such a fashion that no one is hurt in the process, including the journalist. Honesty is one of the most meaningful ethical principles in journalism. Remaining honest to your audience, yourself, and the people you are interviewing, is what will ultimately enable you to succeed in your career; as well as producing the best possible stories and feeling the most accomplished with yourself. This is something I feel I have accomplished thus far in my journalistic career, and will continue to always remain as honest as possible.
Since writing my feature story about Rats in New York City, I have made a conscious effort to always give whoever I am interviewing at least some background information about myself and what my intentions are for the interview. Of course depending on who I was talking to, time was limited, but in every case I at least mentioned that I am a journalism student working on a story about the amount of rats in NYC, and that my main objective was to find out whether or not our city does have a rat problem or not. From there, depending on who I was interviewing, I proceeded to ask open-ended questions that were relevant to their purpose in the piece. For example, when I interviewed a NYC Sanitation worker who was on the job and therefore limited in time, I made sure to let him know how appreciative I was for his time, and how much he was helping with my piece. He seemed to be grateful for my honesty and answered all the questions I had prepared for him. When I interviewed a casual NYC subway rider, the conversation was a lot more relaxed and less restricted on time, so it was easier to think of many relevant questions to ask.
No one likes to feel that they are being taken advantage of, or cheated in any way, regardless of whether or not they are in the story or just reading the story. Therefore, it does not make sense to me why a journalist would ever report any kind of false information. Ultimately, the journalist will be caught in their lies and completely embarrassed for their wrongdoings. It does not seem worth it to me at all. If you can’t get the information you need, try harder, or move on to the next story.