Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Fork in the Road

Is it ever acceptable for a journalist to deceive? Well, most certainly. In fact, my policy is truth is never the, um, best policy...um...yeah? No, no. In all seriousness, I have grown up knowing how important honesty is, but I've also grown up knowing that sometimes you just have to lie. Yep. If I didn't want to go to school one day, of course I lied.

In my mind, deceiving is different. Deceiving, although associated with such terms as betrayal, is something done that does NOT necessariliy cause harm to another. So sometimes deceiving is necessary. Fabricating in a story, not acceptable. But one example of deceiving may be hiding some information from your editor about a story, like a quote from an individual. It doesn't hurt anybody. Am I clear? I feel like I'm rambling. Basically, I guess deceiving is okay in certain circumstances. Make sure there will be no victims and that it's absolutely necessary.

Now, let's apply this to the wiretapping incident. Does it hurt anybody? Not physically, but I imagine people were pretty shocked when it came out that it had taken an entire year. In this case, I do not find it acceptable.

1 comment:

Aggie Blue said...

Maybe the reason you feel you're rambling here is that instead of "deception" or "deceiving" being OK, you mean to say it's sometimes OK to withhold some of the truth?

I have difficulty seeing a moral distinction between intentional deception and outright lying. If you see one, please keep talking and explain it, with some examples, to help us follow your thinking.

Sissela Bok's book, Lying: Moral Choices in Public and Private Life discusses lies in minute detail. You'd probably be interested in what she has to say. Here's a link to her first chapter.