Name: _______________________________________________________ Section # _____
WHAT WOULD YOU DO? MEDIA ETHICS IN-CLASS ACTIVITY
1. Your reporter is covering a speech by a local politician. The politician makes a joke in the speech that offends several members of the audience, who stand up and walk out. The person covering the speech reports this, but in the story repeats the joke told by the
politician. It has a sexual theme. In editing the story:
You delete the joke because you consider it offensive and inappropriate for your
You let it stand on the grounds that otherwise your readers (or viewers) can’t properly
judge the actions of the politician and those people who walked out.
2. Your newspaper is about to publish a wire-service story about the “Overground Railroad,” a network that would help women get abortions if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned by the Bush administration. The story is neutral as to whether the right to an abortion should exist, but it includes at the end, the toll-free number for the Overground Railroad headquarters. In editing the story:
You let the phone number stand. You reason that it’s simply a way to help interested
readers, similar to printing the opening hours of an art exhibit. Its not free advertising,
you argue, nor does it promote abortion.
You delete the phone number. If the subject were non-controversial, you wouldn’t object
to providing this information. But the story deals with abortion, one of the most hotly
debated issues of the day. And besides, other stories haven’t had the phone number
for groups like “Operation Rescue.”
3. A 20-year-old man in your city is arrested on morals charges involving a 17-year-old girl. Your reporter writes the story, and it includes the fact that the arrested person is the son of the superintendent of schools. In editing it:
You leave in the mention of the father, because you believe this fact is important to
readers. The father is well-known locally, and such unpleasant publicity is one of the
prices of fame. Also, you don’t want to be accused of covering up anything touching on
a public official.
You delete the reference to the father. He is in no way connected to the arrest, and you
reason that to report the family connection would be unfair.
4. A woman armed with a gun takes aim at the president, but a man intervenes by deflecting her arm. Later, after the newspapers report the news incident, a newspaper writes about the man and identifies him as gay. He had not revealed his sexual preference to his family, and he is upset by this revelation. However, he has become a national hero. As the editor of the newspaper, would you have printed this information about his personal life? Justify your decision.
5. There was a car, semi accident and the driver of the car—a senator from your town-- was literally crushed at the scene. You send a reporter and photographer to cover the accident. The reporter gets all the facts and writes a good story that details the 78-yer-old drivers death. The photographer gets pictures of the scene, and while there gets gruesome pictures of the dead senator. Do you run the pictures and why or why not?
6) You are a staunch Democrat and your brother—a republican—is running for mayor of your town. He is giving a speech at the local VA hospital in which he is expected to admit that he had an affair with a patient there. Your editor tells you to cover the story:
Cover the story being sure to get only the facts and present them in a professional manner?
Tell the editor you can’t cover the story and try to find another piece to work on?
Explain your answer
7) You are the editor of a large-circulation daily newspaper. A school shooting takes place on the other side of the country. This is the third such shooting this year; in this one, a 15-year-old boy opened fire in a school cafeteria, killing two students and wounding 22 others.
You know the story will be all over the TV networks for days. Yet it is not a local story; it didn’t happen in your community. You know some parents believe children in your city will be frightened if they see this story splashed on your front page. What would you do?
8) You are working on a story regarding a man who was sexually assaulted by another man. The man who was assaulted will not let you use his name, and the other man has not been located. A reliable police source says he is “fairly certain” he knows the preditor’s name and gives it to you as Charlie Henkles. What do you do in regards to the story? Do you run with the story, use Henkle’s name, or do you wait until you have further police support on the identification