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Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Nov 28, 2008, 5:37 AM

One of the tenets of press freedom is for journalist not to disclose their sources. When a journalist does so, he or she wittingly puts their sources in danger. Journalists have gone to jail for refusing to disclose their sources. This is one of the many sacrifices we have to make as journalist.

If a journalist is given information, he or she should verify it before going to press with it. Because of the nature of our profession, we are prone to all sorts of manipulation. Some people could deliberately feed us with false information in order to discredit us. That is why it is important for us to crosscheck any piece of information we are given. But if for some reason we are gullible enough to accept every thing we given without a grain of salt, we should be ready to bear the brunt, and not lose heart by revealing the source. By divulging our source, we portray ourselves as being cowardly. The journalist must at all times have the courage of their conviction and stand up for the truth all the time.

We cannot win the war for a free press when we are seen to endanger the very people we are supposed to defend against retrogressive forces. We must be seen to always uphold the tenets of press freedom. How can our sources trust us with privileged information when they know that we will betray them? How can they have respect for the media when they have no faith in our ability to withstand pressure? We are not indicting anybody. We are simply raising an ethical issue that is at the core of our profession so that we can always be on our guard when are tempted.

The journalist should have no remorse about exposing scoundrels - rapists, murderers, or thieves in both low and high places. But the journalist owes it to society and the nobility of the profession to protect their sources, no matter what. A word is enough for the wise!

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