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The Exposure Of Valerie Plume As A Cia Operative

3536 words - 14 pages

On July 6, 2005, a federal judge ordered Judith Miller, journalist for the The New York Times, to jail. Miller was involved in the exposure of Valerie Plume as a CIA operative. In questioning, Miller invoked reporter’s privilege by refusing to disclose the identity of her sources, fueling fire to a heavily debated ethical issue in the field of journalism (Pinguelo, “A Reporter’s Confidential Source…Revealed?”). Successful journalism tells the truth to a public who has the right to know it. Journalists have the responsibility to tell us a story laden with facts and the more important responsibility of revealing the source of their information, right? Not necessarily. The right of journalists to keep their sources private has been a long-standing debate. The ethics in this debate are blurry. On one hand, it may be extremely important to the issue at hand that the source of information be known, as an argument could lose credibility otherwise. On the other hand, the source has the right as an American and an individual to remain anonymous. Isn’t it enough that he or she came forward with information at all? Judith Miller’s case garnered public attention and is just one example of many instances that raise the same, consistently debated question- how far can journalists go in protecting their sources and under what circumstances does withholding the identity of a source become unethical for either party involved? The answer to this question is obscure, but solvable. Journalists should have the right to protect to identity of a source unless the information they possess is for the greater good of the public or the situation at hand.
Sometimes journalists must withhold information to reveal information. Doctors, lawyers, and even priests have long practiced confidentiality between themselves and the people who come to them for advice, information, and help. In those professions, the rule of secrecy is widely accepted. So, why is person-to-person confidentiality up for debate in the field of journalism? The most logical argument behind the right for journalists to keep their sources private is our right to freedom of the press. It is written in our constitution that we are free to print just about whatever we’d like. The first amendment is as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (“Legal Information Institute”). Unfortunately, the First Amendment isn’t necessarily the final verdict in this issue. The words “freedom of speech, or of the press” are rather vague, they are too general apply to a specific issue at hand. In addition to the peoples right to freedom of the press detailed in the First Amendment, individual states have recognized a reporter’s privilege under their own state constitution. The First...

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