There certainly was no absence of ethical dilemmas in this movie. Will need another viewing with a steno notebook to catch them all. Here is my short list of a few of them with my unsolicited commentary:
The first ethical issue was that Megan took information from the FBI file. I personally disagree with her decision, but perhaps worse was the agent’s action in setting her up. Next, the reporting of the story without more investigation.
Megan wearing a wire and being trailed by a photographer was in poor journalistic taste, but was an ethical decision that was made.
Perhaps the strongest statement made by the movie was the interaction between Megan and Teresa and the printing of her story. Megan’s unwavering approach with Teresa was an ethical decision, as was the editor’s decision to print it. Actually, there was very little decision made by either Megan or the editor, they just did the irresponsible thing that came naturally to them – dictated by their ethical code. Don’t they know not to screw with an unstable person’s mind?
Having an affair with the person you just liabled was unethical on a personal level, let alone unrealistic. Just a way to sell movie tickets…but then again, how many women wouldn’t have an affair with Paul Newman, given the opportunity (see Roger Ebert’s Video Companion, 1998 Edition, pg 1.)
One of the biggest ethical problems was the overall attitude of the newspaper as presented by the editor and the lawyer and dutifully followed by their reporter. They maintained a strict ethical code of printing anything and everything with very little consideration of the individual parties that could be hurt by their actions. After all "Its not the papers fault, it’s the peoples" is what the editor said.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (with the exception of the Megan/Michael affair), and I can appreciate the serious problems for which there were no clear answers, I think the whole bunch, with the shining exception of Wilford Brimley, were pretty irresponsible.