Since I identify as a Christian, I aim to live according to the teachings of Christ and the codes of moral conduct that the Bible provides to Christians. So basically, if one of the Ten Commandments states that I should not lie, I try to live with that commandment in mind. That’s not saying that I never make mistakes and lie, but ultimately, I keep this code in mind, and it guides my conduct.
With this in mind, I was rather appalled by “The Ethcial Dilemma Raised by Gay Talese’s Latest Article.” While the fact that he knew that his friend witnessed someone strangling a woman is mind-blowing (it seems like most people would try to stop that from happening), the article does point out that once the motel owner knew that the woman actually was dead, the owner reported it to the police (Farhi). It’s hard to fault Talese for dishonesty since this situation was taken care of at some point. However, had the owner not been spying on his customers and meddling with their personal possessions, I believe this woman’s death could have been avoided. The owner’s practice of spying on people’s personal sexual experiences is wholely unethical and illegal especially because they checked into a motel, trusting and paying for a private room. And Gay Talese actually took part in this action with his friend, not bothering to blow the whistle until thirty years after the fact. I think that is what bothers me the most. He sat on this information for thirty years.
Ultimately, I think this whole situation is disturbing, but after reading about Talese’s friendship with someone who did this type of thing, I think that it undermines his ethos as a person. If I think about it in terms of a politician—wouldn’t the comments about a politician being friends with someone who spied on customers having sex in spaces they believed were private be completely negative? Why is this? Because this is a questionable friendship. Because a politician shouldn’t take part in these types of activities, perhaps. Because we expect politicians to have upstanding moral and ethical character. Anything less than the standard ruins a politician’s ethos in the public’s eyes. I’m wondering if the standard should be any different for a journalist who is supposed to report the truth in a timely manner and expose injustice, no matter what form that injustice assumes? Because I believe that this should be the code of ethics for any human being—being truthful and standing up for those who are being wronged—I did not take too kindly to this article. However, not having journalism experience, I’m not aware of what their association might deem ethical or unethical. I’m only viewing this according to my own code.
Farhi, Paul. “The Ethical Dilemma’s Raised by Gay Talese’s Latest Article.” The Washington Post, 8 April 2016, link. Accessed 3 April 2017.