Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.
Ethics Columnist for BusinessWeek Online
It’s not a shame that the news media are devoting so much attention to the Michael Jackson story.
Democracy is possible only with a truly free press, not one hijacked by a gossip-hungry public. Yes, Michael Jackson was a phenomenally talented human being, and the fact that his art deeply affected millions of people around the world deserves respect. But news organizations are a public trust, and their obsession now with all things Jackson betrays this trust.
Every Jackson story takes up precious airtime that could be devoted to issues that have a more direct bearing on our future: an economy that’s still in shambles, a health care system in desperate need of repair, the G8 summit—aren’t these stories at least as important as speculating about who will get custody of Jackson’s children?
Here’s another serious problem with Jackson mania: physicians who discuss their treatment of Jackson violate doctor-patient confidentiality, and all media (not just news organizations) ought not to enable this. A person does not give up the moral right to privacy after he or she dies.
If you’re as fed up with this abdication of journalistic ethics as I am, you can express your feelings in the most powerful way possible in our TV-crazed culture.
You can simply change the channel.
Or, better yet, turn it off.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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