Monday, December 6, 2010

ethical analysis

Ethics 4

Several reliable tipsters tell you that city building inspectors, police officers and other public employees are demanding thousands of dollars in bribes from restaurants and bars, and threatening to shut them down if they don't pay. A fellow editor says your publication should test these accusations by opening a phony bar staffed by journalists. Reporters, posing as bar employees, can prove or disprove the allegations by seeing if inspectors, police and others seek bribes.

Finances aside, would you agree to conduct this sting?

1. Define the dilemma. What is the concern?
The dilemma is that the city employed inspector, police officers, and other public employees are taking bribes from businesses in exchange for keeping them in business. Public officials are supposed to conduct themselves professionally and ethically and they arent in this case. A concern in the investigative journalism could be that by attacking such public officials, they could lose their credibility really easily if they are incorrect and their identity discovered.
2. Examine the alternatives. Are there other options to convey the message?
I think a safer way to convey this message would be to simply write this as an illeged crime and investigate it openly. If this was something that was legitimate, you could surely find enough sources without going undercover and trying to trick a bunch of city officials to bust them, which is a tricky approach.
3. Justify your decision. Explain why you decided what you decided.
I decided this because I think this is a touchy subject and if approached in a sneaky and undercover way could do more harm than good for a publication if something should go wrong. Also, even though you said not to consider money, this is an awfully large project to do to thoroughly investigate something brought in by "reliable tipsters." Regardless of their reliability I would want more evidence before getting so invested.

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