Monday, February 06, 2006

Ethics & A Movie

Anchor Name movie1

After watching the film Absence by Malice, quite a few media-ethics issues have surfaced. For all those readers like me who have a short attention span, I'll just put this into a list instead of paragraph form.

1. Okay, looking at the file which was (purposely) left on the investigators desk is pretty obviously an issue to question.

2. Some of the information published in the newspapers was detrimental to the lives of innocent (until proven guilty) individuals. I'm not just talking about "Boo hoo, that article hurt my feelings" or that somebody was offended, but take as an example the point where Gallagher’s workers went on strike. When Megan published the article about the abortion, Teresa committed suicide. Granted, suicide is a choice, but not one that comes lightly.

3. Megan tried to record her lunch with Gallagher without his knowledge. That’s pretty sly and deceitful.

4. At one point in the movie, Gallagher says to Megan, "Tell you or the world?" and Megan says "What does it matter? The truth is the truth." This was after the point in the movie where Teresa asks Megan is she can share something with her and have her not publish it in the paper. Megan says that she can't promise anything. So, my question is this - is Megan obligated to report everything she learns? Does Megan ethically reserve the right to withhold information from the media/public? Does it really matter as long as it's the truth? My take on that is that the media's job is to serve the public, and the public is comprised of individuals, so individuals must be taken into the equation There's no real definitive line that can be drawn, but at some point, yes, I believe that it is ethical to withhold certain information from the public to help individuals.

5. Going hand-in-hand with the previous bullet is the quote by Megan's publisher "I know how to print what's true, and I know how to not hurt people; But I don't know how to do both at the same time." I just thought that was an interesting quote to ponder. It ties in with the previous point in that there is often a very blurred line between what needs to be published for the public and what needs to be withheld for individuals.

6. Finally, I was intrigued by the ending where someone asks Megan what they should print about Megan's relationship with Gallagher. Megan replies "Just Say that we were involved." Then Megan is asked "Is that the truth?" and replies "No, but it's accurate." That seemed to be a little different than the Megan whom we had seen throughout the film up until the end. Could it be that Megan's outlook on ethics had been changed during the course of the film, or could it be that Megan simply had the tables turned on her?


galit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave Kennedy said...

Dangit - someone say. Lol. Your comment was less than three minutes before I posted my full post. Almost made it!!!

galit said... people don't know what the hell you are talking about...anyways...between us it was tricky....

Nancy Williams said...

quoting Dave:

"at some point, yes, I believe that it is ethical to withhold certain information from the public to help individuals."

Can you (or anyone) think of an instance where withholding information is considered ethical, and a common practice among journalists?