Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Absence of Malice

I am writing the blog without reading the packet and then I’ll read it so I have more to add to my critique review paper. We watched the movie to make us think about our ethics and job as a journalist. However I want to start by saying that Meg (Sally Fields character) gets a lot of the blame and while the majority of the problem is her fault, there were poor ethical decisions made by all main characters. Meg’s unethical problems were unintentional. She was trying to do her job and be the good watchdog journalist and to get a good story. Elliot (the guy who left the file on his desk) is the character with the main ethical problems to me. He thought through his actions and knew what he was doing. Meg was unaware of the problems she was creating, so I feel a little bad for her. However it raises a good point. As a journalist, I will try harder to step back and look at my stories and think of how it impacts all parties involved. Just because we have a story to print does not mean it should be printed. We are considered gatekeepers of information.

Although I feel a little bad for Meg, she started the whole ordeal by trying to fabricate a story where there wasn’t one. When she was talking to Gallagher about the first story he said you write for someone with no face and no name but you believe them to be right over me, the person standing in front of you. I love that line. Journalists have to be careful who they trust. After all we are only as good as the sources where we get the story. Even though there are reasons for sources to need anonymity, always search for someone that will go on the record. Also second guess intentions of sources. If someone will go on the record for a story, why would another want to remain anonymous?

To me, Meg’s biggest fault was doing the story at all. As far as reporting the story, running the abortion part was absolutely unacceptable. I know you can’t blame Meg for the death. The editor said it’s not her fault, and it’s not because in the end, Teresa chose to kill herself. However if the article saying she had an abortion never ran then she would still be around.

I think Meg did what she could to make the story right. She realized there was a problem and tried to get to the bottom of the story and make it right for both parties.

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