Journalists are constantly under pressure to come up with relevant but juicy content for their audience but no matter what, they cannot by any means put false content out there especially if it will tarnish somebody else’s reputation. This means that they may have to be creative in finding different ways to get a story.
Could one of those ways be using deception to attain important information that is of public interest? Well according to the journalist Code of Ethics, Journalists SHOULD identify themselves and SHOULD NOT obtain information through subterfuge only if it serves public interest and only if there is NO OTHER MEANS to obtain it.
So Journalists can’t report false content but at times use a bit of deceit (if I am not wrong) to obtain very important information regarding a story.
And we have seen this. Remember the story of the famous Pastor Kanyari? The pastor who performed false miracles and coached some of his members to make false testimonies about him in order to gain money through the ‘seed’ principle?
How did the Media manage to get this vital information? They went undercover in his church and obviously worked to gain his trust to the point that he involved them in his mishaps. Little did he know that they were recording his phony acts with a hidden camera.
At least they informed him that they will air the story moments before it was going to be broadcasted because, anyways, they needed to, as much as they didn’t listen to his plea not to air it… because not only did it air, it became trending news.
Was this ethical? Like the majority I say definitely yes because despite the Pastor’s reputation being destroyed, hundreds were saved from being coned and it created public awareness on the current corruption in churches.
So yes, if an issue is going to save many people’s lives and if there is no other way a Journalist can obtain information regarding a particular issue, then subterfuge is the way to go. Tell me your thoughts 🙂