Melvin Mencher’s last chapter was dedicated to the Morality of Journalism. News organizations and reporters have different codes of morality. When it comes to news organizations, its about laws, such as being against paralyzing and eliminating conflicts of interest. Reporters go by a moral code of rules that is unwritten, but important nevertheless. It is to look out for the weak and check any potential abuses by the powerful.
A powerful example of this is the case of Geidel, an inmate of 60 years. Despite wanting to remain invisible to the world, a reporter, Kevin Krajick who interviewed him decided to publish the story on him. Krajick saw the story as significant as it showed extradorinaiy abuse of power, as someone like Geidel would normally have been let off decades ago.
Krajick thought however, that for the story to stay morally justified, it couldn’t be flamboyant. In contrast to other past articles that focused on how Geidel was in the Guinness Book of World Records, Krajick wrote a heartfelt article named “Forget Me”.
Of course, it’s difficult of journalists to point to something as being universally bad or good. Industrial plants for example, can be seen as evil due to their poisoning of the environment, but due to the jibs they provide, factory workers would venomously oppose their closure. A journalist could have communal life as a guide to what’s right, that stresses freedom, tolerance and fairness. Often times, journalists have to see whether an incident brings to light a bigger problem. For example, talking about a person’s death in graphic detail could raise awareness of that specific crime. However, if you are covering an election, and knows a candidate has done something bad, such as cheating on her wife, but not relating to his job, you could argue it shouldn’t be reported.
The so called muckrakers were those who serve as the nation’s voice of conscious.