Where does investigation end and entrapment begin?
September 20, 2010 3 Comments
One of my worries in undertaking an investigation has been the fear of getting it wrong – during my brief experience as a journalist I have learned that accuracy and evidence are paramount to every story.
It is simply too costly to get it wrong.
Another worry is the method through which evidence is gathered. Can questionable means of obtaining vital information be justified if the public has a right to know? Where does investigation end and entrapment begin? How does one define the public interest? I don’t expect to ever have answers to these questions though I hope to have a better idea about where I stand once I have finished my Masters in Investigative Journalism, which starts today.
The phone-hacking scandal involving the News of the World has shown that not all journalists abide by a strict code of conduct but rather go all out by any means necessary to get their story. Currently, I’m confused as to whether such unethical practices are confined to some parts of the tabloid press, widespread throughout the industry, or whether there are only a few who decide to operate in such ways.
Yesterday I found a handout attached to my notice board I had written for prospective reporters while I was News Editor at my student paper, Redbrick. At the bottom of the page I had written in large, bold font: ‘REMEMBER: as the News section we are looking to report factual information whilst remaining impartial, accurate, informative and, most important of all, INTERESTING!’
Looking back now, I still agree with much of what I wrote in the handout (perhaps with the exception of remaining impartial, as I have since learned this is impossible). I also believe the investigations we led at Redbrick were conducted in a proper and transparent manner, with proper consideration to legal issues thanks to the Guild of Students’ lawyers.
Today I begin to learn how to do this myself.