New York Times Reports on N.S.A.’s use of Social Media to Gather Data on U.S. Citizens

Journalists are held to a high ethical standard when it comes to reporting on stories, especially stories related to government officials.  News organizations created ethics codes to make sure that their journalists understand what they can and cannot do when researching or reporting on a story.  In some instances, elected officials publicly discredit reporters who break ethics codes in order to report on a story. 

Sadly, our government does not hold itself to the same standards that it expects others to follow.  This weekend, The New York Times ran a full report on the National Security Agency (NSA) and the policies, standards, and practices used to gather data and spy on American citizens.   This particular article was interesting because it directly related to one of the readings this week, Whitehouse’s (2010) “Newsgathering and Privacy: Expanding Ethics Codes to Reflect Change in the Digital Media Age.”  The article discussed ethics policies used by The New York Times and their rule that journalists “may not have into electronic databases, computer files, telephone voicemail, or email” (p. 316). 

It is interesting how we hold journalist to such a high standard but allow our government to spy on us without any outcry for concerns of our privacy.  As I read the news article on The New York Times, I realize that many individuals may think that the NSA’s actions are merited because the collection of this data might be for the benefit of the greater good.  However, I’d like to leave you with a few questions to consider before you finalize your opinion regarding the alleged benefits of the action of the NSA:

  • Why does the government harass journalists when they uncover hidden truths?
  • Why should we believe that the government just started spying on Americans recently?  Isn’t it safe to assume that they were spying on us for decades now but just got caught?



Whitehouse, G. (2010). Newsgathering and privacy: Expanding ethics codes to reflect change in the digital media age. Journal of Mass Media Ethics , 25, 310-327.


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