Brian Williams Incident

Jack Jablonski
Jour 201
2-11-15

Brian Williams Code of Ethics

Over the past decade that Brian Williams has been on the air, reporting through major events such as the Iraq/Afghanistan war, Hurricane Katrina, and assassination of Osama bin Laden, mistakes have been made with his storytelling and reporting. Unfortunately, Williams has failed to seek and report the truth regarding the Iraq helicopter incident leading to further investigations over other stories he has reported. The first time he reported it on the air, he reported the truth as any professional should in his business. As years passed, his story changed and, with it, so did his accountability. Failing to promptly admit and correct his mistakes he has violated the code of ethics of professional journalism. Williams failed to avoid misleading the public by embellishing his personal encounters in Iraq. Falsely reporting who was in which helicopter that was hit by an RPG and further claiming his helicopter had been affected ground fire, Williams did not abide by the high standards expected by his position. Because of his previously accepted credibility, no one questioned his version of events. Acting independently, Williams was unable to tell the truth, changing his personal story from Iraq. Misrepresenting his own facts of the story has now costed Williams his job for the time being and has effected his credibility for the future. Although he has apologized and stepped down, because he broke the code of ethics provided by the Society of Professional Journalists, Williams will have a tough time gaining back his credibility and respect he had earned previous to this incident. As a journalist and reporter, you are expected to tell the truth at all times without embellishing anything, Williams has failed to do so, and will pay the price.

Brian Williams

During the Iraq war, Brian Williams reported that he was in a helicopter that he claims was shot down while in the air. His story changed years later and the media immediately became curious and it spurred curiosity into his other stories. The media is now finding out that a lot of Williams other stories were also fabricated and embellished which is a huge breach of the journalistic code of ethics considering he was a very trusted reporter.

Williams clearly violated the first part of the code where it calls journalist to seek truth and report the truth. His foggy recollection of his experience in the Iraq war misled the public and got in the way with his obligation as a journalist. The fact that he made up these stories turning them into “war stories” as Jon Stewart calls it, also qualifies him for violating the part in the code that says journalists should “act independently.” I think that he is also violating this because he didn’t have the interest of the public in mind and he was making it more about himself and the things he saw. This also violates the part of this code where it says that journalists should not accept gifts or anything of that sort because he went on the Letterman show to recount his “war story.” I think this was a step forward in his pursuit of becoming more of a celebrity figure on top of being a trusted reporter. This appearance ironically was his downfall because his recounting was different than the other times he has reported it. In the end, I think William’s hunger for the celebrity status hurt him because it interfered with his moral obligation as a journalist. Williams story should be a warning to all journalists because it seems as if once you breach the code, you will eventually be caught because people are always seeking the truth.

Princess Diana Documentary

News control and manipulation
embarrassing moments were censored
photographer who got her dress blowing up “I take it we can trust you not to print the photo”
scheduling photo shoot + negotiating the coverage

Published gossip
Prince Charles marriage speculation
Diana’s emergence
Pre-wedding coverage

News of crime
Princess Diana’s Death
“Press killed her”

Moralizing
Princess Diana being vetted by the media as a “Perfect bride” etc. because she had no past

Sensationalism
Rupert Murdoch and Princess Margaret’s affair
Paparazzi blamed (“the press killed her”)
shots of the car
“they have taken her life”
Diana was a media darling. She was beautiful and enjoyed being photographed, but it became too much.