I will expect you to think critically about First Amendment rights as
you develop this essay. Four cases will be presented after these instructions.
You are to write your essay on only one of the cases. In your essay, address
the questions posed following the scenario, but make it all flow as though
those questions are thoughts you have and know that they must be considered in
arriving at a solution to your journalistic dilemma. Do not list the
questions within your essay and then answer them individually. You must
fully justify the path you choose. In other words, whether you choose a
solution that is provided to you within the case scenario or another one you
have come up with on your own, you must explain completely why you have made
this choice. Refer to at least two previously decided cases (precedent)
as partial support for your decision. Remember: The First Amendment is NOT a
precedent. Do not start off writing the scenario as it appears in this
assignment simply to add words to your essay. You may begin by briefly
explaining the dilemma you are facing.
Specifications: Use this list as your checklist before you
____ 650–900 words (This is a firm minimum and
maximum number of words—not one word fewer nor one word more.)
12-pt. Times New Roman, double spaced
1-inch margins on all four sides of page
Contact info and name in header on every page
Indent paragraphs ½ inch with NO extra spacing between
____ Include page numbers
The cases follow:
How much information should you report?
are a reporter for a local newspaper. You come back to the office one day to
find several staff members discussing this story:
have been killed in an automobile accident. The driver, who survived, had been
drinking prior to the accident. The two girls in the back seat, both of whom
were killed, were nude at the time of the accident.
colleague, another reporter, is pushing for all the known facts to be reported.
But the editor argues that the fact of the girls’ nudity should not be
revealed; he claims that such information will just be an additional insult to
their parents, who already are suffering from the girls’ deaths.
Do you have a right to publish:
The fact that
the driver was drinking?
The fact that
the girls were nude at the time of the accident?
Would it be
responsible to publish these facts in reporting the accident?
ALONE about things to consider in deciding whether to report this information:
Do we have
all the facts? Has anyone interviewed the survivor?
newspaper have a policy on printing names of sexual-assault victims?
publishing the information help anyone else?
Detachment or involvement?
are a reporter for a large urban daily. The paper plans a major series on
poverty. Your editor assigns you to do an in-depth piece on the effects of
poverty on children, with special emphasis on what happens when drug addiction
becomes part of the story.
identified several families willing to be subjects for the story. Three
families agree to be photographed — and identified — and you spend four months
with them, visiting their homes every day and observing what goes on. You tell
them your job is to be an observer — a “fly on the wall” — so you can gather
information for this important series.
In one home,
you watch as a mother allows her three-year-old daughter to go hungry for 24
hours. You see this same child living in a filthy room, stepping on broken
glass and sleeping on a urine-soaked mattress. You know the mother is
HIV-positive and you watch as she brushes her daughter’s teeth with the same
toothbrush she uses. You see the mother hit the child with full force. You see
the little girl about to bite on an electrical cord. Her plight haunts you.
do you do to satisfy both your conscience and your responsibilities as a
A. Report the mother to the authorities so the girl will be
removed from this environment and placed in a foster home. Then write the
B. Write the story first, detailing your observations. After
the story has been published, notify the authorities, giving the mother’s
C. Write the story, but don’t identify the mother or child to police
or social service authorities. Remember, you are a reporter. You’ve put the
information in the newspaper. It’s not your job to act as a police officer.
Your own solution to