When Should Journalists Not Divulge to the Public?
Fascinating--a look at what a reporter knew that her public didn't know, and whether withholding the story was appropriate. Of course, every journalist makes choices about what to include and what to leave out in a story--legitimate journalistic choices. A major purpose of journalism is to filter a large quantity of raw information into a coherent and digestible story. When I work as a journalist, I usually have far more information than I can include in (for instance) a 500-word story. But when the choice is not to do the story in the first place, or to do it and leave key information out of the discourse, many ethics questions come into play. Especially if a government or corporate source wants the material held or permanently suppressed.
One of the things I found especially useful in this article is author Kelly McBride's list of six criteria for when to hold and when to divulge, at the very end of the piece.
"First figure out where the information came from. Anything that can be found in a public record, anything that is voluntarily revealed by witnesses or is observed first-hand by a journalist should be considered fair game."
Click the link above if you'd like to see #s 2-6.