Ambush is the act or instance of lying concealed so as to attack by surprise. Journalism is the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news. Ambush journalism Essay is commonly seen in American public affairs and tabloid programs. Ambush Journalism has been around for as long as we can remember and will continue to be around in the future.
The question however is if Ambush Journalism is ethical or not.
This is a very hard question to answer! First who decides what is ethical? That judgement is left in the hands of both journalist and the public.
Some journalists use this technique to obtain the latest and hottest news the outcome can sometimes be damaging or viewed as unethical. Other journalists refuse to use this technique because they
feel that it violates the basic journalistic standards of balance and fairness (Day, pg.136).
The public on the other hand wants to know everyones private business so much that they sometimes do not care how it might affect the person or persons that the news is about. However if they were to be the subject of Ambush Journalism themselves they would most likely not like it at all.
Is this subject a gray area? Yes it is a gray area because there is no set line or black and white answer of what is right or wrong. Take a murder trial for instance. If a murder trial is covered in one way that shows the emotions of the victims family in an interview, after a not guilty verdict is decided, then this could be viewed as unethical. This form of Ambush Journalism can be very rewarding and destructive at the same time. While getting the raw emotions of the family could be good, it could
also be viewed as an invasion of the familys privacy as well as disrespectful.
However if the same trial is covered so that the emotions of the victims family are not used to spur unreasoned answers then this form of journalism could be viewed as ethical.
Journalists sometimes use the element of Ambush Journalism as a surprise technique to get the real story or news and raw emotions. This can sometimes be good because the persons true emotions are not hidden, as mentioned before, but usually the person being interviewed or ambushed does not have time to prepare and tends to have not well-reasoned answers.
To fully understand what Ambush Journalism is one would need to observe previous cases and examples of it. First in the case of Chung vs. Gingrich, Connie Chung, a journalist, interviewed Kathleen Gingrich, mother of House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Day, pg.137).
In the interview Chung asked Mrs. Gingrich what her son thought of the first lady, Hillary
Clinton? After assuring Mrs. Gingrich that her answer would just be between them(even though the cameras were still rolling). Mrs. Gingrich feeling secure whispered to Chung that her son thought the first lady was a bitch (Day, pg.137).
This situation then turned into a he said she said problem with Connie Chung as the center of attention. Some journalists voiced their opinion that what Chung did was unethical. Chung was even accused of Ambushing Gingrich by the executive director, Everette Dennis, of the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University (Day, pg.137).
In Chungs defense, David Bartlett, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association said there was no attempt to deceive or trick anyone into saying something on camera that they didnt want to say, (Day, pg.137).
Just in this situation it is hard to decide who is right or wrong. On one side you have an elderly lady who was told that anything she had to say would
just be between her and the reporter. While on the other side you have a reporter that knowingly asked a loaded question during the interview caught the desired response on tape and used it as part of her story to get better ratings. I myself feel that what Connie Chung did was wrong. She should have never told Kathleen Gingrich that she could say anything and then use it later. I feel that in this situation Chungs actions were unethical and violated the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
She did not .