I’m a reporter and I’ve gotten a hold of pictures and a story of a famous person which will undoubtedly be a major piece of news but will also ruin the person’s career. I’m torn–how would the church help me decide whether or not to go with the story?

In the most idealistic sense, a reporter investigates and writes stories that are in the public interest.  But what is that interest, really?  Does it foster civic engagement and bolster the common good, or is it for idle entertainment?

Ethicists distinguish between goodness and rightness in making moral decisions, and the Church emphasizes the importance of having a well-formed conscience to guide you.

In having your faith inform your work, 1) consider what you value most.  Is it the pursuit and presentation of truth and fact?  If so, toward what end?  2) Consider the potential outcomes.  Who will be affected by this outing of information?  Is it about a grave, systemic wrong or—instead—about a scandal of a more personal nature?  If you anticipate danger or harm, might a greater good eventually come from having this public?  3) Above all, respect the dignity of the human person you are writing about.  Remember that the story may not have a profound impact on you, but it might well mean something very real for your subject.

Good luck on making the right choice.


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