James O’Keefe: By Any Means Necessary

Despite his dubious methods, I’d  have to say that James O’Keefe’s reporting is indeed journalism. I mean, let’s look at the definition of the word journalism. According to dictionary.com, journalism is:

“The occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.”

If we agree with that definition, than we would also have to agree that O’Keefe’s reporting is definitely a method of journalism, despite the criticism he gets. O’Keefe investigates, writes and reports news so in that sense he is a journalist.

One characteristic of a journalist that I feel was left out of that definition was honesty. A good reporter doesn’t obtain his news by being deceitful and a fraud. According to Martha T. Moore’s article, O’Keefe suggests in an interview that his tactics as a combination of “the guerrilla of Borat, the gotcha of Dateline … and the gonzo approach of Hunter S. Thompson.” As he pointed out, the entities which he named do indeed hide their identity and/or use questionable tactics to obtain their story, so why is O’Keefe criticized for using the same guerilla tactics?

Although I believe that dishonesty and falsifying identities are tactics that are immoral, I also believe that it is a tool that journalists should not be without. It’s a tool that they have in their possession and at times it becomes necessary to utilize if the journalist believes that the story will affect many people.

One of the issues that are raised about O’Keefe’s journalistic tactics is the fact that he seems to strategically edit his videos in order to distort the message. I can certainly understand why many people would have an issue with this. On the other hand, editing footage in order to create a message is something that takes place in news rooms across the country, we see it happen every day and generally ignore it. Therefore, why would people criticize O’Keefe for doing the same? Sure, his message may be inaccurate or misleading, but nonetheless he is utilizing one of the many tools that technology has provided journalists. You don’t have to agree with his message or point of view at all, but to say that he is not a journalist would be false.

At the end of the day, I believe that it is undeniable that O’Keefe is a journalist. Although his tactics are questionable and a bit malicious, there is no reason why a reporter shouldn’t be able to use hidden cameras and false identities in order to uncover any news that has the potential to affect a large number of people. It’s not only a journalist’s job to report any major news, but it’s his duty to obtain the news by any means necessary. I believe that being deceptive is wrong, but at the same time, if it helps expose immoral and criminal activity, then I say it’s all fair game.

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