Category Archives: Bloomsbury

Does the End Justify the Means?

Postings on PolitickertNJ about a Bergen Record reporter and whether he improperly removed public documents from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection raise an interesting journalism ethical question.

Regardless of what the circumstances of this particular case (and the reporter claims he mistakenly mixed them in with his own materials and returned them immediately), just when does the end justify the means?

For example, the Star-Ledger and nj.com are boasting about an exclusive video of a man confessing a murder to State and Hunterdon County law enforcement officials. The news story says the video was “obtained exclusively by The Star-Ledger,” but does not mention how the newspaper obtained it.

The confession appears to be an official video recorded by the law enforcement authorities. It is compelling and newsworthy, but should the Ledger be allowed to say it “obtained” it without any further disclosure? If the circumstances were reversed, would the newspaper allow a public official to get by with a similarly worded answer?

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