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Deception in Journalism

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It may occurs through observation or interviews. Investigative journalism perhaps the biggest beneficiary of deceptive practices during the news gathering process. What makes the process deceptive in the fact that the identity of the journalist remains secret and the use of recording devices without the subject in question knowing about it. The mere fact that the subject does not know that they are being recorded is an indication that the conversation is not only off the record but also contains some form of deceit. A very good illustration of deceptive news gathering process can be seen in the example given by Lasorsa & Lewis (2010) about a journalist who would like to catch an online paedophile.

In this instant, the journalist will pose as an underage girl and then initiate a chat with the sex predator. The journalist will then go ahead to lure the predictor until he is caught. Braun (1988) notes that most investigative journalists today use and display deceptive methods by withholding their identity and also using recording devices without the knowledge of the subjects in an off the record chat.

This way, they are able to obtain the information they need without jeopardizing the data collection process. Seow Ting (2004), however, points out that despite the argument that such journalism techniques have contributed to the unraveling of certain ills in the society, they cannot be fully justified as moral. The sole goal of journalism and news collection should always be the provision of deceit free content and using any form of deception in the gathering process may in one way or the other interferes with the credibility of the content gathered. The second form of deception occurs during the news writing process.

Journalists have the duty of not only availing the information that has been collected to the audience but also delivering it in the manner in which it was collected (Williams & Owen, 2002). This therefore requires them to desist from any firm of ruse in the new writing process which may interfere with the truthfulness and the credibility of the information delivered. The perception and belief that the receiver of the message will have on a given issue or topic will be depend on how the news is written and delivered through the various delivery platforms and channels used by journalists.

Braun (1988) warns that failing to do this is morally unacceptable and limits the reliability and credibility of a particular news content. The big question which is normally asked in the journalism circles is whether journalists are allowed to lie to be able to reveal the true behaviour of others.

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