100 articles – ‘Ethics: Sticky Issues in Gumshoe Journalism’

20 May 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

Ethics: Sticky Issues in Gumshoe Journalism‘ by Laurence Zuckerman and Naushad S. Mehta

I believe strongly in the role of journalists to reveal injustice and inadequacies in society. Yet, I often wonder where the ethical line should be drawn when it comes to the investigation and documentation of such stories.

Lawrence Zuckerman and Naushand Mehta highlight the moral dilemma that faces modern journalists as they try to balance their duty of revealing truth to society whilst maintaining an ethical means of obtaining information.

This article, written in 1988 is not recent, nor is this issue new. Zuckeman and Naushad acknowledge that methods of stealth journalism evolved in the early 1960s due to technological advancements, resulting in the use of hidden cameras and recording devices. Yet now, with technology developing too rapidly for the law to keep up with, this issue of ethics in investigative journalism remains more relevant than ever.

While Zuckerman and Mehta do not draw the ethical line for us, their exploration of the views on this issue encourage us to think about whether revealing injustice for the greater good of society can justify the use of unethical means of investigating.

Jane Hosking is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University. This piece is part of the ‘100 articles’ project. To see the list so far or to learn more about the project, including how you can contribute to it, click here.