Ethics in Journalism

February 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm (Uncategorized)

      The premier episode of Lou Grant raises important ethical disputes of journalism that are surprisingly relevant to this day.   Even though the vast differences between the dated 1970’s newspaper office and today’s new media and technology is obvious, the moral questions and points that the show brings into light will always be present.  As long as there are stories to be found, difficulties will  arise for the journalist, no matter how young or old they are.

            When our fifty year old protagonist Lou Grant gets the job at the Los Angeles Tribune as city editor, a young and eager reporter named Rossi tips him off about police scandal storythat  is brewing. He believes that another reporter, Driscoll, is sitting on the case.  As the episode unfolds, it is clearly evident that Driscoll knows information about this scandal, but is not coming clean.  It turns out he was afraid to run the story because he thought it would break his connections with reliable sources, so he attempted to hide the truth in order to be in good standing with his friends.  The relationship of the reporter and the source is needed in order to get the best facts and dig up a great story. However, when emotions come into play, truth and honesty is sacrificed  in order to keep conflict at bay.  What is important to understand here is that emotions can’t get in the way of the truth.  Otherwise the hard facts of the story, which are what really matter, are completely comprised.  In the end, Driscoll comes to his senses and writes a fantastic article about his own personal tribulations as a journalist.

      On the other hand, Rossi is someone who does not understand how to put emotions away when writing.  The first draft of the police story that he gives to Grant is covered in bias.  Grant even says himself that it sounds like the paper itself  is “mad” at the police.  The negative connotation that Rossi uses is unacceptable, and is what creates a faulty story. Rossi’s character further emphasizes the need of leaving emotions, no matter what they may be, behind.  This is something that Grant truly understands.  He is passion is digging up the hard facts, and can do so easily on a few mere leads. He lives and breathes it.  Writers today should take away from Grant the idea that  news cannot have an opinion  because the readers need to form one on their own.


1 Comment

  1. David Perkins said,

    EXCELLENT comments.

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