Ethics in writing: where is the line in the sand?
Isaac, a high school senior, was dying of leukemia. He wished, with all of his heart, to survive long enough to graduate. I learned about Isaac when my newspaper editor called me and said that I needed to be at the football field where his graduation ceremony was to take place. If Isaac was released from the hospital for the ceremony, I was to walk with him, up to the podium, as he got his diploma – and then talk to him as we strolled, capturing his thoughts.
I was taken aback by this assignment. Normally, I covered school board or city council meetings, or profiled someone local with an intriguing hobby. But, this? This didn’t feel right. “What,” I asked my editor, “if he doesn’t want me to?”
“Do it, anyhow,” she says. “This is an important local story.”
I was startled by the response, especially since my editor was a caring woman, but I nevertheless went to the high school field. I can’t say that I’m especially proud of that decision, but I didn’t debate with the editor any more than the question listed above. I was only working part time, so that I could spend time with my young children, and I needed the income from the newspaper. But, still. This just didn’t sit right.
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