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Essay on The Exposure of Valerie Plume as a CIA Operative

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On July 6, 2005, a federal judge ordered Judith Miller, journalist for the The New York Times, to jail. Miller was involved in the exposure of Valerie Plume as a CIA operative. In questioning, Miller invoked reporter’s privilege by refusing to disclose the identity of her sources, fueling fire to a heavily debated ethical issue in the field of journalism (Pinguelo, “A Reporter’s Confidential Source…Revealed?”). Successful journalism tells the truth to a public who has the right to know it. Journalists have the responsibility to tell us a story laden with facts and the more important responsibility of revealing the source of their information, right? Not necessarily. The right of journalists to keep their sources private has been a long-standing debate. The ethics in this debate are blurry. On one hand, it may be extremely important to the issue at hand that the source of information be known, as an argument could lose credibility otherwise. On the other hand, the source has the right as an American and an individual to remain anonymous. Isn’t it enough that he or she came forward with information at all? Judith Miller’s case garnered public attention and is just one example of many instances that raise the same, consistently debated question- how far can journalists go in protecting their sources and under what circumstances does withholding the identity of a source become unethical for either party involved? The answer to this question is obscure, but solvable. Journalists should have the right to protect to identity of a source unless the information they possess is for the greater good of the public or the situation at hand.
Sometimes journalists must withhold information to reveal information. Doctors, lawyers, and even pries...


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...t Media. Huffington Post, November 2012. Web. 19 November 2013.

“First Amendment.” Cornell University Law School. Legal Information Institute, n.d. Web. 18 November 2013.

Pinguelo, Fernando M. “A Reporter’s Confidential Source…Revealed?” National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. July 2007. Web. 14 November 2013.

Reuters. “Katie Holmes Settles $50 Million defamation Lawsuit Against Star Magazine Over Drug Addict Story”. The Daily News, 28 April 2011. Web. 19 November 2013.

“The Reporter’s Privilege Compendium: An Introduction.” Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, n.d. Web. 15 November 2013.

Shepard, Alicia. “Deep Throat’s Legacy to Journalism”. NPR Books. 19 December 2008. Web. 14 November 2013.

Soghoian, Christopher. “When Secrets Aren’t Safe With Journalists”. The Opinion Pages. The New York Times, 26 October 2011. Web. 17 November 2013.




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