The Constitutional responsibility of the press is to inform the public. The First Amendment comes into direct conflict with the rights and responsibilities of media coverage. There is a fine line between personal privacy and the publics right to know. The constitution overrides the option of privacy beside the amendment of freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Freedom of the press is to be guarded as an inalienable right of the people in a free society. Freedom of the press carries along with it the right to discuss, question and challenge the actions of our government and of our public and private institutions. Journalists hold the right to verbalize unpopular opinions and the privilege to consent with the majority.

In a hypothetical situation , a man running for president is caught in a bind where media has to decide if his private life should be published or not. Involving media forms such as newspapers and television news.

When investigating matters in an individuals private life there is a question of fairness. The possibility of invasion of privacy is also present. If this information is printed , How will it make the person feel? In most situations the person?s life being exposed would feel he is being treated unfairly. However, by not reporting such information could elude the voters knowledge of the presidential candidate. A journalist is required to report, it is there job.

When making implications about any person, the facts must be known without a doubt. The uselessness of hearsay information or a animus tip does no good on the creditability of the news. If there is potential situation developing, it would be a good idea for a journalist to watch and wait for the events to unfold , then gather the necessary facts upon gaining the information. It is unconstitutional to spread lies about an individual. Even if false information is printed it could take a considerable amount of time for an individual to regain the publics favor. A journalist is aiming to be ethical before they print an article . Sometimes it may seem as though a writer is trying to destroy an individual. In most cases this is not true In any case an investigation is done to gather the facts relevant to the situation. Thus arriving at the question of right verses wrong. In some opinion snooping around and peeking through windows is reasonable. However this is a major violation of privacy. The morality of most people would not appreciate the idea of a journalist lurking about spying on every move they make. In any form of news media, information must be gathered to create an accurate picture of the actual events. Therefore it is reasonable to investigate the person in which information is necessary to obtain. It is unfair to take the investigation to the point where the law is broken.

What is right and wrong? There are many situations which sit on the line of right and wrong . The press holds the responsibility to inform the people of the news whether it is logical or not. The Government imposes restrictions despite the apparently absolute nature of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which states ?Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.? Keeping this in mind gives any journalist the right to write, print, or speak about any thing.

If any person were subject to a similar situation the issues would be totally different. However, this person is running for president which makes him subject to the constant pressure of the news media. The person becomes a target. The first wrong move he makes will be on the front page of every newspaper and the top story of the evening news. Even if a common person was involved, instead of a presidential candidate the press would have the option to follow up a story on the matter.

The Society of Professional Journalists must operate under a code of ethics. This code summed up in a few sentences states that the journalists are to maintain the duty to serve the truth. , stated under the Constitutional role to seek the truth is part of the public?s right to know the truth. ?We believe those responsibilities carry obligations that require journalists to perform with intelligence, objectivity, accuracy , and fairness,? the code says. Journalists are free to any interest other than the public?s right to know. There is a difference between broadcast codes and newspaper codes. It is a difference between positive and negative liberties.

Journalists hold the responsibility to make ethical decisions. They must recognize the principles about fairness , justice, truth, and the American way. People are allowed to agree and disagree about the right thing to do in tense situations , this is where the matter of opinion sets in. It would be something for all of us to come to the same justifiable conclusions. However, in today?s society opinions range far and wide. I believe that in the high speed technological age of today journalists work well to provide the public with the important facts of the news. The information is prompt and precise highlighting the most important facts. If I was a journalists put in this hypothetical situation I would push the power of the journalist to the very edge. That is why the law was written to protect a journalist from the possibility of going to far. As for the twist of right verses wrong , would sit on the shoulders of the average opinion.

The Publics Right to Know


Nov. 11 1996

Communication Theory


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