To Catch A Predator With A Predator

973 words - 4 pages

To Catch a Predator with a Predator
The business of exploitation television and the ethical considerations stemming from such programming are never clearer than in the show “To Catch a Predator.” Under the guise of catching criminals in the act and exposing sexual predators the networks (NBC and MSNBC) carried out a show of sting operations bolstered by the journalistic credibility of Chris Hansen who had reported for NBC Dateline previously. I argue that the predatory nature with which the program was carried out not only may have violated the civil rights of both the victims and the target sex predator but even more so sets up a dilemma as it pertains to the journalism profession. ...view middle of the document...

This is not a clear cut subject but I believe it is important to look at the show from that aspect because it involves Chris Hansen and activists posing as underage potential sex partners over the internet and on the phone. Hansen was already well known for his work on Dateline NBC. That success paved the way for him to have credibility immediately when the show initially started. Bringing that credibility may have played a prominent role in why the show was not questioned more harshly in the beginning and throughout its run. The problem of course lies in the widely accepted principles of journalism that allow deception in only a few instances. In a democratic society journalists are held to a high standard and the good ones are held in high regard. Journalists’ number one job is to report and provide information to the people in order to help them with self-government and their obligation is to the truth. They are supposed to be transparent in their methods and sources although as we know there are many times those sources must be protected. Some who take a utilitarian approach to things may think it is fine to be deceptive as long as it serves the greater good or has benefits that outweigh the harm of the few. The big argument of those who are okay with the methods used in “To Catch a Predator” is that the type of method is necessary because child predators operate in such secrecy that they could not be caught without deceiving them. There certainly is some merit to this argument considering criminals are not likely to just give themselves up easily or open themselves up to the risk knowingly. As the old saying goes though, two wrongs do not make a right. What I mean by this is by offering one’s trust and...

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