Ethical reporting cracks Rob Ford

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The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, has a long history of ridiculous behaviour. No one should be surprised by the latest scandal; journalists are simply doing their jobs.

Coverage of Ford’s behaviour reached a new height this past week as two different news sources, the Toronto Star and Gawker published articles in which journalists claimed they saw a video of Ford smoking crack.

Ford and the Star have had a very contentious relationship; however, the Star has largely remained ethical in its journalistic practices. This particular controversy is no exception.

The media’s job is to pursue the truth and expose wrongdoings. While simply claiming to have seen a video may seem like tenuous grounds for such outrageous accusations, the journalists who say they’ve watched the video are much like witnesses to any crime.

Waiting for the video to surface would have put the issue beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, the primary consideration should be whether or not a wrongdoing was committed.

The ethics of buying the purported video are more complicated.

Allegedly, the video was taken and is currently being held by drug dealers. Gawker has crowdsourced a fund which they hope to use to buy the video.

Unlike most other sources media outlets use, drug dealers looking for money do not purport to uphold the public interest. It’s likely they would use the proceeds to fund their illegal and violent trade.

Nevertheless, people in positions of power need to be held accountable even if the means to acquire evidence is sometimes questionable.

Video evidence is fairly reliable, and crowdsourcing the money to pay for the video allows for regular citizens to facilitate the process if they so desire. While the media’s coverage may seem gratuitous, the alternative was staying silent about the misconduct of an elected official — a more unethical option.

Journal Editorial Board

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