Latin America

Journalists still struggle with gray areas

Many Filipino journalists still find themselves caught in ethical dilemmas where rules are less clear, discussions among practitioners in the recently concluded Media Nation 9 forum showed. Among the tricky situations are when food and freebies are offered while no demands are made, or when free products or gadgets are given to reporters for review. Veteran journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug said that in small group discussions during the forum, journalists also cited cases of colleagues asking government officials to become sponsors in their weddings or in their children’s baptism. With Christmas around the corner, journalists are likely to be invited to parties where expensive prizes are raffled to those who attend. As a guide to making ethical choices, Vitug said, “Disclosure is a must in many areas of the gray zone.” The paradox of the profession, according to her, is that while journalists should care about issues and people to report effectively, they should also have “hearts and minds of steel – so that we do not succumb to temptation and accept payoffs, favors and live lifestyles similar to the powerful people we write about.”

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