The ethical predicament that isn't

Over at the Post, Howard Kurtz finds himself in a "murky maze" that makes it hard to see "the right course of action." Here's his problem:

Should major newspapers and networks have agreed to suppress the news that Christian Science Monitor stringer Jill Carroll had been kidnapped in Iraq? The impulse is understandable, given the Monitor's plea that publicity might endanger negotiations to win her freedom. But since when are journalists in the business of sitting on news? And would they have imposed a 48-hour blackout for a non-journalist?

The first part seems rather easy to me. There's two goods the editor has to weigh up against one another: the right of readers to be informed of important news and the obligation of the paper not to endanger anyone through their coverage. Where's the conundrum? Does Kurtz really think amusing the liberal middle classes over their Sunday breakfast is a higher good than potentially protecting the life of a fellow reporter -- or indeed any fellow human being?

And that answers the second part of Kurtz' predicament.

No comments: