Since the beginning of time, or at least since the inception of tabloids, journalists and writer’s have been scrutinized for going to extreme lengths and devious measures to extract the next big “scoop” of the century, only to deliver the coup de grâce, or a deathblow, to its innocent exploited victims. Yes, the ultimate name of the game is furthering ones career, but at what cost? As a writer, former journalist, and as a person I have asked myself many times; when it comes to ethics and morals, where do I draw the line?
Most every journalist and writer takes a college course on ethics. When he or she graduates, it’s time to run with the Big Dogs. You either gain an edge by any means possible or you go down in flames. Should any means possible include immoral and unethical acts? Getting ahead in the business can sometimes cost you a reputation and in the end cost you a career.
Both as a former journalist and as an author I am bound to certain ethical standards – legally and morally. As a writer, every so often, someone will come by to test the murky waters of my character. As a writer, my reputation depends on; what I do, how I react, the things I say, and most importantly, what I decide to put in print.
The journalist has a responsibility to tell the story no one else is willing to tell. It may be too risqué, too scandalous, or just plain dangerous. Nonetheless, journalism is not about fabricating a falsehood to promote oneself or to promote the sale of a publication. And by all means, you must verify your sources.
Recently, I wrote a blog and cited what I thought to be a credible source. However, I was notified that the information I cited, although cited properly and taken from a reputable public source, was incorrect. The information was outdated and incorrect. Does that make me liable? Only to the point that I should have went one step further and verified the information with the individual I had referenced in the blog, thus covering my tracks. Had I contacted the individual and not received a correction, I would have gave it my all and given the individual the opportunity to set the record straight. However, if given a correction, the blog article would have been that much more credible and the individual would have provided up-to-date information making the blog article that much stronger and better.
Needless to say, the individual I neglected to inquire with, simply pointed out my infraction. Embarrassed over my neglect, I humbly apologized and made the necessary correction. However, it is not always that easy. I dealt with a generous, kind and understanding individual who was happy to steer me in the right direction.
Even when it comes to using images make sure you cite them properly. If you hover over an image on my blog you will notice a very long URL string, this is the entire site address from the website the image was taken. Do not simply assume if an image is online it is public property. You must cite it properly with a full citation. I have found the best way on WordPress is by copy and pasting the site address in the name dialogue box as you upload the image. It will save you headaches down the road.
A writer spends a lifetime building a credible reputation; it only takes one bad judgment call, one uninformed mistake, to alter a writer’s destiny. People want to read an honest author, not a dishonest hack who finds himself or herself in court, or in the least publically embarrassed, because the story of a lifetime was about to get away, or because he or she fabricated a story to increase sales and stimulate ratings. I don’t know about you, but when I leave this world I would rather be remembered as a writer whose word was golden, not the hack who lied and whose writing was never trusted or read!
Even when it comes to fiction, make sure you create people, places, and things, which are believable as the truth must prevail. No matter the genre, when I read, I prefer to be met with something that offers a smidge of enticing truths and a dash of deception keenly mixed in for excitement. It is much more credible when an individual can relate to your make believe world. Disregard all truth and reality and you are left with nothing more than a conglomeration of counterfeit deception – untruths and deceit!
Persevere for excellence. You may not get the scoop of a lifetime, but you will sleep like a baby, especially when people desire and purchase your books because they want to read honest to goodness truth, even if it is fiction!
Good Reads My Friends