RESPONSIBILITY OF JOURNALISTS
The Encarta Encyclopedia defines journalism as "the gathering, evaluating, and publishing of facts for public interest" ("Journalism"). Citizens rely on newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet for information about public affairs, as well as for daily tools for living, relaxation, and social contact (Baran 46). As conveyors of information regarding political and social issues of the day, journalists provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing (Kovach IV). As employees of the corporations that publish or broadcast their stories, journalists also face demands for production and deadlines in a corporate culture that pushes to be the first to break the news. Journalists are obligated to report the news, not make it. Though the First Amendment gives journalists freedom to publish stories at their own discression, it does not excuse journalistic failures.
The work of reporters on September 11, 2001 provides an example of both responsible and irresponsible journalism.
Newsmen and women got clear information to the public in a timely fashion. This gave the passengers on the hijacked Pennsylvania flight the opportunity to take action against the terrorists, which prevented their aircraft from harming people on the ground (Raffaele A1). Because reporters provided the facts and the networks acted quickly to present then, citizens' lives were saved.
Within in minutes of this triumph in journalism, reporters provided the terrorists with a new target. In their rush to scoop rivals and to keep their audience's attention, reporters broadcasted the president's flight plans and locations. Without clear knowledge that the attacks were over, the media may have placed the president in danger. The American people did long to know that President Bush was safe, but the details of his whereabouts were not necessary. Both the strengths and weaknesses of journalism were evident; fortunately the failures...