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Compact case
Case
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Reference no. HKS1457.0
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 1998
Length: 5 pages
Topics: Ethics

Abstract

In 1992 an Associated Press journalist in Amsterdam is assigned to write a feature article on drug policy in the Netherlands. He has been asked to write similar articles in the past, and has always been expected to convey the message that the Dutch experiment in tolerating private drug use has failed. His personal assessment is that drug policy in the Netherlands is more sensible and effective than the Bush Administration''s War on Drugs. While conducting interviews for his article, the journalist learns that representatives from 17 cities in Europe have recently met and agreed to lobby the European Union for more liberal drug laws, on the Dutch model. This development provides an opportunity to change the focus of his article. At first his editors urge him to balance his report by including the opposing viewpoint, but eventually they acquiesce. When the story appears, it is not picked up by any of the AP''s top users. The case provides a vehicle for discussing alternative conceptions of the social responsibilities of journalists, as well as ideas of objectivity in reporting.

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Abstract

In 1992 an Associated Press journalist in Amsterdam is assigned to write a feature article on drug policy in the Netherlands. He has been asked to write similar articles in the past, and has always been expected to convey the message that the Dutch experiment in tolerating private drug use has failed. His personal assessment is that drug policy in the Netherlands is more sensible and effective than the Bush Administration''s War on Drugs. While conducting interviews for his article, the journalist learns that representatives from 17 cities in Europe have recently met and agreed to lobby the European Union for more liberal drug laws, on the Dutch model. This development provides an opportunity to change the focus of his article. At first his editors urge him to balance his report by including the opposing viewpoint, but eventually they acquiesce. When the story appears, it is not picked up by any of the AP''s top users. The case provides a vehicle for discussing alternative conceptions of the social responsibilities of journalists, as well as ideas of objectivity in reporting.

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