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Ethics question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sirvaliantbrown, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. I'm a student. I just did consecutive internships at major papers. During those internships, I dealt semi-regularly with politicians. Now, before returning to one of those papers, I'm going back to school for a year.

    I was a political advocate before I was a journalist. Would it be acceptable to participate, during this journalism-free school year, in any form of political advocacy?

    For two reasons, I'm leaning strongly towards no. One: I'd be lobbying some of those same politicians - and I'll have to cover them again next summer and beyond. Two: on Google, half of the results for my name would be for news coverage, half for activism. And that makes me uncomfortable.

    Am I being overly cautious?
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    No. It's probably a good idea on your part to leave behind the activism.
  3. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    That depends...

    Do you want to be a journalist? Or, do you want to be an advocate?

    'Cause you can't be both. At least not in a mainstream publication.

    I'm not trying to be a smart ass with this response. However, if you are still tempted to do the political advocacy work, then maybe you should ask yourself if you wouldn't be better off pursuing that line of work. It would seem to me that, if you have put yourself out there for a cause in the past, that you are going to be awfully damn unhappy (note that I'm not saying you can't be objective, but rather I'm suggesting that being so will make you unhappy) being objective--which you need to be if you want to be a journalist.
  4. No: I want to be a journalist. And, when I'm doing journalism, I strive for absolute objectivity.

    But, for eight months, I'm not doing journalism - I'm going to classes and watching the Buffalo Bills lose and sleeping. Therefore, I'm wondering if activism is - briefly - allowed.

    (But, again, I don't think it's a good idea.)
  5. Great question.

    I actually think you should do the activism for eight months. You're only in college once, man, and I think a lot of editors would be impressed with the extra-curriculars. You would certainly want to avoid backing a specific candidate - instead focus on a cause or causes.

    As for the Google stuff, that might be the flaw in my thinking. It's a different world than when I was in college, so I may be wrong.

    But honestly, I feel until you're hired by a newspaper, you're a civilian. Do civilian stuff. Just don't get arrested.
  6. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Disagree. In the age of Google, don't do anything now that could in the future call into question your objectivity.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    That's similar to the farewell speech Arthur Branch gave Serena Southerland... and he was right then. You can;t be an advocate on this side of the aisle.
  8. Why not combine the two passions?
  9. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i also think the answer is no, but by simply asking this question and thinking it through, it's obvious you'll do just fine in this business ... and i don't say that often to college "kids".

    good luck to you.
  10. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    What kind of advocacy are we talking about here? There's a big difference between, say, supporting funding for literacy and lobbying for shorter prison terms for pedophiles.

    In either case, someone might scream that you're biased on a story, but a potential employer might also make a character judgment one way or the other.

    You mentioned an internship for two major papers...why not ask the people you worked for how they view this? You'll get a real world answer.
  11. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I'm with the Good Doctor - and it looks like most others.

    I have a friend - who also has a poli-sci minor -who covers politics and doesn't so much as vote because he fears he may been seen subjective rather than objective if anyone ever found out how he voted.
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Nope. You shouldn't do anything that may call into question your objectivity.
    It will be one of the many sacrifices you make as you become a journalist.
    (We've covered most of this in a thread, before. A heated one, if I recall.)
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