PROTECTING SOURCES is a longstanding tradition in journalism. Had Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (above) revealed their primary source during the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon may have remained in office and the corruption of that era may have continued.
More recently, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent three months in jail rather than reveal the source of her information (which she never even published).
Investigative journalists dig for information, often about people in powerful positions. Their role is to uncover misbehavior. But they are not law enforcement.
This became an issue in France recently after a broadcast journalist went online in chat rooms posing as a 12-year old girl in order to lure pedophiles. The story led to 20 arrests after the reporter and his producers notified police of their findings.
Did the journalists confuse their role in society? Were they grandstanding by taking their information to the police? Is this "gotcha" journalism?
Or are there limits on who journalists protect when it comes to informants?
Was it wrong for the journalist to lie about his identity in order to gain information?
6 months ago