Justice of Journalism

Essay by jacklangCollege, UndergraduateA-, October 2011

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The Justice of Journalism

Jack Evan Gardner Lang

Global Issues in the Media

Mrs. Meredith King

The Justice of Journalism

"…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." -Benjamin Franklin

"Journalism's first obligation is to the truth" (Kovach and Rosenstiel 36). With that being said, journalists are fulfilling their obligation to the truth when they publish government secrets. However, that does not negate the fact that there are in certain situations compelling reasons to prevent such truths from becoming public knowledge. Life and everything it entails is simply a matter of personal opinion. There is no set right or wrong rules or guidelines for how a journalist should work. Rather, a journalist should do what he or she believes to be the proper and just action.

The difficult part is determining whether the need for open government outweighs the potential harm to others.

"The government hides what it can, pleading necessity as long as it can, and the press pries out what it can, pleading a need and a right to know" (Keller 13). Whether or not there are compelling reasons to prevent such truths from becoming public knowledge are irrelevant. A citizen's right "to be free and self governing" does not have any significance toward harm resulting from exposure of government secrets. It certainly does not help citizens to be free or self-governing. If anything, it sways more towards preventing such from happening. Citizens have a right to know what events are occurring in society even if their government wishes that certain actions be kept secret. The government works for the people not visa versa. Therefore, journalists are fulfilling their obligation of...