Journalists and Ethics

This isn’t going to be a post about ethics and journalism per se, but an accurate report of a conversation I had with an immigration official (yes, that’s right).

I was going through immigration checks at Heathrow airport. Now, for those ignorant souls who have no clue about the trials and tribulations many international students have to face when entering the UK, let me say that at immigration, they ask you questions about the course, what you’re doing, ask small details about things that they think people would fudge up if they were coming in for unlawful purposes. Which, by the way, is their job and it’s good that they do it quite well. It’s just annoying for me to have to prove every single time I fly in that hey, I’m a student here and am contributing £20,000 into your economy so let me through!

Anyway, here’s a report of the conversation we had:

Official: Are you going on anywhere from Heathrow?

Me: Yes, I’m going to Manchester.

Official: Okay…where do you study?

Me: University of Sheffield

Official: What kind of course are you doing?

Me: MA in Magazine Journalism

Official *raises an eyebrow*: What’s so different between magazines and newspapers?

Me *mildly outraged*: Newspapers is mostly hard news. Magazine has more features alongside news as well and –

Official: Mmmhmm. What modules do you have?

Me: Well we’ve already done Law, Researching News – that’s for news writing, Ethics and –

Official: Ethics? I thought journalists don’t have any ethics.

Me: Erm…uh well that’s why they teach us. Besides, I have loads of ethics.

Official: Right. Goodbye.

*sigh* And that’s my first brush with people who think journalists are unethical.

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2 thoughts on “Journalists and Ethics

  1. Well, technically speaking, besides doing his job, it may be a case that he was intrigued by the difference in Magazine and Newspaper journalism. The immigration officials cannot be seen to have emotions (except when it comes to kids maybe), and by reading your account, I hope he asked you the questions out of interest as opposed to in the form of an interrogation.

    1. I’ve never faced interrogation style immigration officials. However, this one…well I got the feeling he didn’t like journalists very much simply the way he raised his brow when I was talking hehe… there was also a touch of dry amusement when he said the part about journos not having any ethics. I wouldn’t say ‘interest’ exactly (and this I judge by the tone in which he was talking), but it was definitely not interrogation, thank heavens.

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