Case Study: The Ambassador’s Journal (2012)
A news organization’s discovery of a diplomat’s diary leads to an ethical debate over privacy and the public’s right to know.
Get even more great free content!
This content contains copyrighted material that requires a free NewseumED account.
Registration is fast, easy, and comes with 100% free access to our vast collection of videos, artifacts, interactive content, and more.
NewseumED is provided as a free educational resource and contains copyrighted material. Registration is required for full access. Signing up is simple and free.
With a free NewseumED account, you can:
- Watch timely and informative videos
- Access expertly crafted lesson plans
- Download an array of classroom resources
- and much more!
- Media Ethics
- National Security
- Pass out copies of the case study and have students discuss it in small groups. Tell the groups they should attempt to come to a consensus about which of the multiple choice options they think is the best. They may come up with another position.
- Ask the groups to share out their choice and reasoning. Use the questions to guide the discussion.
- The Ambassador's Journal handout (download), one per student or small group
- What overarching morals or values might be taken into account for each option?
- Was it OK to remove the diary from what some government officials called a “crime scene”? Does it matter that the building was largely unsecured, allowing the reporter to enter it?
- If you were the network, how might you justify publishing the contents of the journal against the family’s wishes?
- Why might the government try to prevent the network from publishing the contents of the journal?
- Does the nature of the ambassador’s death make a difference in the decision to publish the diary?
- Does the public have a right to know of the ambassador’s security concerns and how such concerns may have been a factor in his death?
- Is privacy of the deceased ambassador and/or his family an issue? Explain.
- What are some political consequences of publishing the concerns expressed in the diary? Should they be taken into account when deciding to publish or not?