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Hot off the press

Papers chase the next big story, reports Andrew Stone

It can often be a challenge to know what is the right thing to do

DRAMATIC headlines are being made every Thursday evening in BBC One’s Press. While in the real world individuals and organisations contend with spin and fake news, this six-part drama is covering the lives of journalists and editors on two fictional national newspapers: the left-wing, campaigning broadsheet The Herald and the right-wing sensationalist tabloid The Post.

Despite their different approaches to news gathering, the journalists in the two newsrooms are similar in their desperation to capture the scoop, get the interview and boost their paper’s circulation.

But, as they hold the front page, there are challenges to be met. Not least among them is that of maintaining journalistic integrity. Already the hacks on The Herald and The Post have had to decide whether forcing the resignations of a cabinet member and the CEO of an NHS trust are in the public interest. In both cases they decided it was, but neither was an easy decision for some on the team to make.

Meanwhile, rookie journo on The Post, Ed Washington, has had a tough start to his career. One of his first jobs was a ‘death knock’, in which he had to turn up on the doorstep of a bereaved family and try to convince them to give him an interview. Then he had to go undercover dressed up as a polar bear to attend a celebrity fancy dress party in the hope of recording a tipsy celebrity’s indiscreet gossip about her well-known colleagues.

Ed, a recent Oxford graduate, wasn’t comfortable with the way he obtained his material or the angle he took with his stories. But he needed to keep his editor happy. He is having to learn how to survive in the high-pressure world of tabloid journalism.

‘He has got professional ambition and he wants to be the best,’ says actor Paapa Essiedu, who plays Ed. ‘He is very, very talented and he wants to go far, but at what point does he compromise his morals to do that?

‘It’s about him finding his moral compass.’

In the complicated and pressurised world in which we live, it can often be a challenge to know what is the right thing to do.

Sometimes the situations we face can be so confusing and muddled that we don’t know how to respond. Then there are other times when we have to make a decision knowing that, regardless of what we do, someone will be upset by our actions. Unlike the newspapers of past years, life is not black and white.

At such times, we can struggle to find something to set our moral compass by. How do we know what is right and what standards we should apply to our lives?

Many people have answered those questions by turning to God for guidance. One early leader of the Christian Church wrote: ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God … and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5 New International Version).

God’s wisdom is not exclusive. He is willing to share it with anyone who asks. If we are willing to follow his lead, he can help us make decisions that are in the best interest of us all.

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