This issue of journalistic integrity has long been a debated one. As defined by Wikipedia online encyclopedia (www.wikipedia.com), “journalistic integrity is the principles of ethics and of good practice to address the specific challenges faced by professional journalists.” In more simple terms, it is the code of conduct journalists follow that dictates what is proper and what is improper in their field.On July 6, 2005, Judith Miller, a correspondent for The New York Times since 1977, was jailed by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan who claimed that she was “defying the law.”
Miller, who had written several articles for the New York Times using an anonymous source, revealed the identity of former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame in an article she wrote that was published in The Times in 2003.
Miller was released from jail when her anonymous source, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, released her from their confidentiality agreement, and she agreed to testify against Libby. Journalistic integrity provides for the harboring of confidential sources by their trustees.
The question posed by many is: Should Miller have been sent to jail in the first place for protecting her source?
“If the information was truly life-threatening then I think, as a journalist, I would care about the individual in danger and therefore hand over the source because I value the life of the individual. However, I believe journalistic integrity is important and I don’t think that the government should be able to take that away on a whim. They should have sufficient evidence that there is dire need for information,” said Lauren Haupt, a senior.
Senior Natalie Alsis believes in punishment for everyone involved. “I think it is a disgrace that someone would leak the name of a CIA agent especially if it was putting someone’s life in danger. I don’t care what her journalistic freedoms are, when it comes to something like leaking the confidential information about a CIA agent, everyone involved should be punished.”
Senior Kelly Graham, however, cheers Miller for protecting her source. “I applaud Judith Miller for protecting her source. She was doing her job as a reporter by protecting her source, and her being sent to jail was a very serious infringement on our first amendment rights as journalists, and, indeed, as citizens.”
If ethics are a series of moral principles, is it more ethical to protect a confidential source, or turn that source over to authorities for endangering the life of another?