Journalists will do almost anything to get a great story, however, professional journalists know where to draw the line when generating a story. Last month this hypothetical line was leaped over when blogger Ian Murphy posed as the wealthy conservative David Koch to gain access to an interview with Gov. Scott Walker.
A full story on the call can be found here.
The State Democratic Party has found the phone conversation to be highly offensive and have filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Board. While board is in the process of assessing whether or not actual violations have occurred in the prank phone call, the event has fueled a discussion of the importance of journalist ethics.
The Society of Professional Journalists have stepped forward and criticize Murphy’s tactics, as SPJ President Hagit Limor calls the event “a new low” for anyone claiming to be a journalist. Murphy’s misrepresentation of himself violates a critical journalistic ethic according the SPJ, and in inexcusable.
“This tactic and the deception used to gain this information violate the highest levels of journalism ethics,” said SPJ Ethics Committee Chairman Kevin Z. Smith. “To lie to a source about your identity and then to bait that source into making comments that are inflammatory is inexcusable and has no place in journalism.”
While the event has flustered the field of journalism, this novel event has illuminated the proper procedures and ethics that professional journalists should follow. I ask my readers, was it worth Murphy’s infractions of the journalist code of ethics to obtain this interview and expose Walker the way he did?