After reading the article and thinking about what it takes to have a credible story, I believe that no, it is not ethical to break a story using just one source. Using just once source means you are using only one side of a story. In order to be completely accurate and unbiased in a story it is crucial to use sources with information on both sides of the story. It is hard to remain neutral, which is one of the responsibilities of a professional in this profession, if only one source is used.
The SPJ Code of Ethics states, “test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.” That being said, if you only have one source you cannot test the accuracy and check for errors if there is nothing to compare to.
Next, finding evidence of the story on social media is not enough to run with a story that has only one source. Social media posts are more times than not fueled by emotion and passion. That being said, information and evidence that is most likely created with emotion is not credible. Emotions often times contribute to irrational choices or posts. To be completely neutral, all emotions have to be set aside.
Breaking a story through a letter to the editor is not ethical. Letters to the editor are used to voice concerns on different issues. A breaking story about something that occurred is not a piece of information that should be told through a letter to the editor. This goes back to the emotion and passion issue. People who are writing letters to the editor are typically upset about an issue; therefore, they are writing letters that are influenced by emotions.
The ethical principle that I believe applies to this is, Kant’s Categorical Imperative. I chose this principle because by not using multiple sources, part of the truth is being hidden. Hiding part of the truth is deceptive and that is one of the things that Kant says is always wrong.
Kant’s says that we need to act the way toward others that you would want them to act toward you. That being said, we would want people to objectively report a story to us so we know both sides.
Ultimately, using social media, just one source and reporting story in a letter to the editor are not things that are in my opinion ethical means of breaking a story. We need to be fair and neutral in our reporting. Using as many sources as possible will allow that to be achieved.
This website was used for extra information on Kant’s Categorical Imperative: http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_2_Ethical_Traditions/Categorical_Imperative.htm