Fairness and Ethics in News Reporting

4 Dec

At some point in his/her career, nearly every journalist will face some sort of ethical dilemma and will have to make a decision on how to handle it.

 Lacie Pierson, courts reporter for the Charleston Gazette Mail, knows this all too well.

“The stakes are higher on this beat,” she says of covering crime and courts. “I think it has the potential to cause more ethical dilemmas than other areas of news reporting.”

While she says she has been “pretty lucky” so far in her career, Pierson and her coworkers were once put into a situation that caused them to have to make a decision as to what the best way was to get accurate information out to the public while also being fair and unbiased.

“At my previous job, we [the newspaper] were purchased by a gentleman who was a politician. He ran for West Virginia Attorney General. Because of that, we didn’t know how to handle political coverage,” Pierson said. “We had to be very careful about how many times we quoted him versus how many times we quoted the other person so we didn’t seem biased.”

The newspaper also added disclaimers to their articles clearly stating that one of the candidates was the owner of the paper.

As journalists, the main goal is to seek the truth and report it to the public without bias. This becomes difficult in certain situations where we may have connections to people involved with our stories. In this situation it is important that we as journalists remain focused on the public’s right to know. This means being open and honest with our readers (like Pierson and her coworkers did) or removing yourself from a story that you do not feel you can report on without some sort of bias.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Blue Captcha Image