Christmas Stories and Ethics

Fellow journalist Sherryl Yao and I produced this story in December 2006, as part of a series of stories by different tv news reporters a few days before Christmas.  Each pair or group was assigned to serve and do something special for others.  Truth be told, I was not able to watch other groups, but I do understand that one group danced for senior citizens, while another became street sweepers for an afternoon.  Sherryl and Ichose to go to CRIBS Philippines, a center for abandoned babies.

I must say that the real challenge in having produced this story was ethics.  I knew from the beginning that there’s a fine line producing a valid news story, which is good.  On the other hand, there is the potential of producing a story to promote one’s self or network.  And of course, there is a big difference between journalism and PR.  And yes, news isn’t PR.

So in producing this story, our constant question was: how does this story really serve and help?  How do we veer away from the undesirable side of the fence (as some stories across the different media all-year round have been criticized for their self-serving angles)?  I realized that the answer does not (only) lie in touching the hearts of viewers or entertaining them, but in making them aware of a relevant situation, or better, making them act — it all goes back to the basics.  I’d like to believe that our story lived up to this greater purpose. We remember that journalism is for a specific purpose. It is not a platform for self-promotion.

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