Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Ethical Lie?

is it ethical to lie about a source for his/her protection?

5 comments:

gabriela salermo said...

I think it is ethical in a personal sense, but perhaps not in a professional, journalistic sense. It depends on what kind of lie you are telling and for what reasons, the gravity of the situation and of the possible circumstances of the truth. If it is something that one feels, as a journalist, should be done for the safety or well-being of the source, I think it's ok. But there are usually other options besides lying....like beating around the bush or maybe not saying anything at all.

K. Crozier said...

It would depend on the situation, but I think it would be more ethical to just leave certain information out of a story instead of lying about it. What purpose would the lie serve? And why would the journalist go so out of his/her way to lie for a source when they could--presumably--choose to not use it in the first place?

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Depends entirely on the details. Jacob: Let's make these posts a little *longer.* I'm afraid your next post will be:

Famine. Floods. The Pope. Ice cream. What do you think??

Jacob Marx said...

I believe the journalist must make his own decision on whether or not he protects his source when extreme adversity comes into play. Personal loyalties are the ultimate decision maker in situations that pit a journalist against outside forces of which he usually has no control over. I personally have one overriding loyalty in which was derived in a very logical manner. This is, telling the story the true and honest way it happened—every story does not have two sides. There is, despite different vantage points and opinions, a specific way in which everything happens. There is one way that events transpire and it is my belief that a journalist must tell a story in a way that is most true to ‘what actually happened.’ That being said, as long as the truth is being told about the events itself, a journalist has every right to protect his source in whatever way possible—including lying. Now, I’m not advocating for keeping the identities of national threats and outlawed terrorists hidden, but I am saying this—if I am confident that my source has told me the honest truth and wished to remain anonymous, I will take his name with me to the grave.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Good man. See you in the grave! Okay. No more jokes. I am absolutely sure that we can come up with some situations in which we would lie about the identity of a source to protect him/her. That assumes a story of great importance, of course; that is, I wouldn't want to promise a source I would lie about them in the collection of information about a trivial story.