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    One Thing All Reporters Have in Common Is a Firm Understanding of the Ethics of News Reporting

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    The field of journalism is broad and ever changing, with many different facets of media to take into consideration. As a result, there are many different types of reporters each with their own strategies, methods, and styles. However, one thing all reporters should have in common is a firm understanding of news reporting ethics.

    The source I chose for my paper was AJ Harris, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky. Arden Barnes of the University of Kentucky’s newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, interviewed AJ, real name Alford Harris. We had our conversation in regards to the article on November 18, 2018.

    My first question for AJ was whether or not the reporter was timely and professional in her meeting. “The reporter was slightly late, but was apologetic and made up for it the best she could. We met at on campus the first time and we spoke about general things and became acquainted before jumping straight into interviews.” Said AJ. He emphasized how much it meant to him that she was genuinely invested in him and what he had to say. “She seemed very invested in what I had to say and was attentive and actively listening to everything I said.” He said.

    This taught me that it is essential to let the person you’re interviewing know that you value everything that is being said. Small gestures, such as having small talk before actually conducting the interview or making sure you make eye contact while they speak can open them up to you and allow you to get information that you may not have otherwise. This aligns with the University of Columbia’s second and fourth principal of journalism: “Establish a relationship with the source conducive to obtaining information” and “Listen and watch attentively.” These are key elements to a healthy relationship with those with whom you interview as well as making sure you maintain a professional demeanor.

    The next question I asked was about the terminology the reporter used while interviewing AJ and his family. Sometimes journalists will head into an interview blind. This can create issues when it comes to reporting as there can be gaps in the interview that can make it uncomfortable and unnatural for the source (Scanlan.) “I try to know almost as much as they do about their subject, so it seems we are ‘chatting,’ ‘ said former New York Times reporter Mirta Ojito.

    Knowing about the topic helps flow the conversation and lets the source know that you actually care about the topic being discussed in the interview. This opens the channels of conversation and can take the conversation to a useful place, especially when it comes to political figures or people considered to be more “tight-lipped.”

    “She was very professional in her terminology and asked questions on things if she didn’t entirely understand.” AJ said in regard to his interview with the Kentucky Kernel. Being knowledgeable on the correct terminology and wording of subjects is important especially when it comes to more sensitive subjects such as health. Misusing words or terms in regards to sensitive topics can be incredibly offensive to some of you readers. Terms in regards to race, ethnicity, illness, and infirmity are some of the most often misused terms in journalism (Perlman.) In the case of AJ’s article, the reporter properly addressed everything she needed to and exhibited a great sense of tact when conducting his interview, a skill that not all journalists are capable of achieving.

    AJ also stated that he did not receive an advance copy of any questions asked by the reporter. This is common practice among reporters as giving questions ahead of time can lead to insincere answers to questions. The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy’s Journalist’s Resource states: “Though it is not good professional practice to give questions in advance to sources such as public officials, with experts you may want to email some general questions before speaking on the phone or in person.” People in public positions oftentimes have an agenda or a political affiliation and will want to be able to cater to that audience in their answers. However, sometimes people will be genuinely inquiring to see if they are the right person to be interviewed or to be able to provide more information. “When people want to know what questions you plan to ask, they’re often performing their due diligence to make sure they can provide the information you need.” (Dieker.)

    AJ did not receive a final draft of the article before it was published, however, he also did not request one. Whether or not you should share drafts with your sources is a hot button issue among journalists. There are pros and cons to both aspects of showing your drafts beforehand. “Showing sources drafts of articles can certainly compromise the integrity of your reporting. But, doing so can also help you ensure facts and names are correct.” To best resolve this issue it would be best to use your own discretion based on the kind of article you are writing, as well as consulting your editor.

    I then asked AJ whether or not he felt that that the article accurately represented him and his family. “Yes, everything in the story was true and factual. Nothing was taken out of context or exaggerated in any form. I was nervous about this before the actual interview, but she eased my concerns.” Making sure that the final product is accurate is one of the most important elements of journalism. Fact checking and using the most recent and relevant information as possible greatly helps to boost your credibility. Many journalists say that credibility is all you have in the field. A prime example of this is Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News. He exaggerated stories about his time covering the Iraq War and when this was discovered his credibility took a major hit and almost ended his entire career.

    It is essential for reporters to tell the truth because the public depends on them. Regular citizens rely on journalists daily for information about the things and activities going on all around them. If the public can’t trust journalists, then there are few people they can rely on. It is the responsibility of journalists to take the time to gather accurate, unbiased information before they report on a story. When people in the journalism field start reporting on things that are not true, their credibility is gone.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    One Thing All Reporters Have in Common Is a Firm Understanding of the Ethics of News Reporting. (2022, Nov 27). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/one-thing-all-reporters-have-in-common-is-a-firm-understanding-of-the-ethics-of-news-reporting/

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