Source Disclosure and Journalist's Ethics Essay

Source Disclosure and Journalist's Ethics Essay

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Reporter’s Privilege
Journalism has grown and developed over the years along with journalistic ethics. Journalists have a code of ethics or a moral compass. Every story that a reporter produces has either a named or unnamed source. Several states have protective laws designed for reporters who have stories with anonymous sources, but Mississippi is one of the only states in America that does not have a shield law in place. Mississippi should enact a shield law giving reporters the privilege not to disclose anonymous sources. Confidential sources in some cases are the only base of credibility for reporters. Many prominent news stories would not surface without the dependence on confidentiality between reporters and their sources: “The Watergate source . . . gave confidential information to Washington Post reporters about illegal activities by the Nixon White House” (Campbell 37). Without protection for reporters and their sources, the public would be in the dark.
Journalists have a role of delivering key information that our government does not want to disclose to the public. They are protected by the First Amendment, but the First Amendment does not protect journalists against source disclosure. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government of a redress of grievances” (qtd. in VanArsdall 16). Because the first amendment does not spell out in detail how the amendment protects journalists, the interpretation of the amendment by lawmakers is often times not enough to clear a journalist from having to disclose a ...


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"Applause for a Reporter's Courage." National Catholic Reporter 15 July 2005: 24. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
Bates, Stephen. “The Reporter’s Privilege, Then and Now.” Society Aug. 2001: 41-54. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 March. 2014.
Benzing, Jeffrey. “Falling On Their Shield.” American Journalism Review July 2011: 11-12 Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Campbell, Joel. “States Revisiting Reporter’s Privilege Laws.” Quill Dec. 2005; 36-37. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Kaufman, Debra. “The Fight For A Shield Law.” Television Week Oct. 2008: 20. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Klein, Herbert G. “Why a Shield Law Is Needed.” Washington Times Sept. 2005: A17 Newspaper Source. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
VanArsdall, Kelsey. “A Law to Protect.” Quill Feb. 2005: 15 MasterFile Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

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