Ethical Dilemma-NCAA Basketball Tournament

22 Apr

By: Mariah Congedo

WTOV9 sports reporter, Julianne Pelusi says that she does not always face ethical dilemmas in sports reporting, however she remembered one instance that could have significantly hurt her image.

While the basketball NCAA tournament was taking place this year she was the main reporter who followed around one specific team. The two division two local basketball teams, who were rivals, were up against each other. Both teams were extremely good and no one knew what the outcome would be. “Everyone was in for a great game”, says Pelusi.

Throughout the game it was back and forth until the final six seconds. Pelusi did not mention the team’s names; instead she called them the red team and yellow team. A guy from the red team hit a three pointer, which gave his team a one-point lead. Soon after, the yellow team rushed down the court and hit a three. It was called a good basket and they won the game.

Not long after, the referees called to review the play. After a long review they said the ball did not leave his hands before the buzzer went off, so the red team had won the game. Pelusi’s division, with whom she worked with all season following the yellow team, were angry about it. “When reporting on a team all year you really get to know everyone, the coaches and players, so when they lost it was extremely upsetting,” Pelusi says.

When the game was over and the red team won the game, Pelusi wanted to double check the shot. Her co-anchor, who had shot the game, had it on video so Pelusi watched the play back and freeze-framed the shot. “They got the call wrong! I could not believe it and I was so upset over it,” Pelusi says.

Pelusi, after long consideration, decided to take a picture of the freeze-frame and post it on Twitter. “Before I posted it, I wanted to make sure that I worded the tweet correctly while telling the truth and not telling people what to think,” Pelusi says. Having known the ethics of journalism, Pelusi triple-checked her tweet and sent it out.

“I got a message from my station’s competitor station saying how people were angered by it, mainly the coaches and players of the red team,” Pelusi says. It was not something Pelusi was just gong to sweep under the rug.

However, Pelusi’s boss was glad she tweeted it because it stayed within ethical guidelines but got the message out there. Pelusi’s tweet could have been extremely bad had she not paid attention to what she was saying before she put it out to the public.

Since Pelusi was so mad about the call of the game, she could have tweeted something that would have gotten her into a lot of trouble. How she was able to fix the dilemma that could have came about, was to read and re-read what she was writing for everyone to see.

“What I tweeted could have turned into a nightmare for me had I worded it with dishonesty or hatred, but I made the educated decision that it was ok and the public should know.” People were mad at her, but she was correct in what she said on Twitter.

Sticking to the code of ethics is one of a journalist’s biggest challenges. Making one wrong decision could be the end of their career. Pelusi stuck to her ethics and was able to dodge a possible catastrophe.

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