It’s okay to be both human and a journalist

Session: Ethics in Interviews

At “Ethics in Interviews: Mapping the Minefield,” David Simpson (Georgia Perimeter College) discussed some of the most pressing ethical questions facing journalists (both students and professionals). While he encouraged us to be tough and persistent in our approach to sources and interviews, he also advocated a point I did not anticipate: don’t check your humanity at the door.

I’ll fully admit it. Sometimes, I get so caught up in getting that quote or gathering that information that I lose my sense of humanity with those I interview. With particular sources, Simpson said reporters should give themselves fully to their source, even if they don’t agree with everything they are saying. In other words, suspend judgment. You may not fully understand or agree with what the person is saying, but don’t make a decision about them until the end. Try to understand where they’re coming from and try to see things from their point of view as much as possible. But, don’t forget to turn that “mode” off and return to that judgmental role when reporting. 

-Caitlin O’Donnell

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