This week, the American Society for Professional Journalists issued a press release urging journalists in Haiti to respect their role as reporters of the news. The SPJ claims that some journalists have been blurring ethical lines, immersing themselves into their stories opposed to simply reporting the carnage. Some journalists have gone so far as to exchange their aid for interviews.
However, Israeli journalist, Natasha Mozgovaya, a reporter on location in Haiti, says: “No matter how often you tell yourself that the reports you file will help mobilize desperately needed aid for those who survived the earthquake, the fact remains: Instead of giving them water, you’re sticking a camera in their faces. Even as they writhe in pain, you’re asking them questions.”
This calls into question the ethics of remaining passive amidst devastation and havoc. As journalists should we stand by idly, camera and notepad in hand, instead of digging victims out of rubble or driving the injured to hospitals? Perhaps there is no simple answer to this question. Perhaps we’ll only truly know how to react when we’re in that situation, hearing, feeling, seeing, the drama first hand.