Ethical Dilemma
March 26, 2020 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I am conducting political interviews with candidates for the 2020 year. One interview I did was with a candidate who was represented by a organization that Mashable and Gizmodo said put up fake political consulting websites, that now, no longer exist.

While researching the candidate, I wandered down the path of looking at his consultant, who seems very shady. Should I alert the candidate?
posted by CollectiveMind to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
It seems the ethical thing to do here is to investigate, as a journalist, the very things that look shady to you. Once you have the verified evidence and facts to back up those concerns, you’re going to have to contact the candidate anyway and present them with the information to get their opinion / statement on it.

It also seems that you may be assuming that the candidate doesn’t already know this person is shady. Perhaps they or other members of the campaign do know about whatever is going on, which may very well be another thread within the story.

It’s one thing to contact the candidate to get their perspective and statement on whatever you’ve unearthed. It seems another thing entirely to “tip off” the candidate, as you are a journalist and not a paid political consultant. This is where the ethics of the situation begin to blur. Is your duty to the public, or is your duty solely to help out this candidate?

I don’t think I would trust or continue reading a particular journalist or periodical if I learned that they were doing something like this.
posted by nightrecordings at 2:47 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't alert the candidate. I would ask them if they're aware of the things you found in your research. And let the story follow from there. If they are aware and have no problem? That's your story. If they say they aren't aware? Watch their actions with regard to what you asked them and see if any changes are made with respect to what you found. That's your story. Don't protect anyone and don't change your focus. Just report what you find and ask the questions and see where it goes.
posted by downtohisturtles at 3:01 PM on March 26 [4 favorites]

Thank you.
posted by CollectiveMind at 9:30 PM on April 1

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