OLD Media Moves

Ethics and business journalism

October 18, 2005

If you were a business reporter and you discovered that a company or an executive that you were writing about had done something wrong, would you take that information to the authorities so that they could take action against the company or the person?

That’s essentially what happened this weekend in sports journalism, when Sports Illustrated reporter Michael Bamberger noted that teen golfer Michelle Wie had taken an improper drop during the third round. Bamberger later alerted tournament officials, and Wie was disqualified from her first professional tournament, losing out on more than $50,000 in winnings.

What would a business reporter do in the same case? The easy answer is to say that you’d report the story about the wrongdoing and let the authorities read about the incident and then take action. But what about telling the authorities before the story is published? Ostensibly you’d be contacting regulators to ask for a comment if you were writing such a story, so you’d have to explain to them, at least in general terms, what you had witnessed before the story ran.

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