Investigative reporting, meet the philosophers

Explore the role of investigative reporters and public agencies in exposing public deceit and fraud as well as the underlying thinking of the importance of knowing what’s really happening.

Discussion assignments for students:

Flashlight: View the 60 Minutes clip on the best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea.” Ask students to read the posted comments. Discuss the role of the press in upholding standards of integrity in society: Did the report lead to increased accountability? Why is it important for people to know whether the book and the charity it supports are non-fiction or fiction? Would you have done the story?

Spotlight: For further discussion, consider: Should people who do good deeds fall under the same press microscope as obvious criminals? Do the ends justify the means? Look at the Wikipedia page on Greg Mortenson and “Three Cups of Tea.” Are there any circumstances under which a journalist may know something but not do the story? What might those be?

Searchlight: Philosophy studies basic questions having to do with existence, knowledge, reality and reason. Consider the reading list below, selected for readability, logic of arguments and originality. Look up some of the books (or others if you wish). Do any of them argue for or against societies based on facts? What would the authors have said about the value of investigative reporting? Blog your results, or, for extra credit, assemble a package telling what you learned using Zeega.

First batch: The Analects, Confucius; The Plague, Albert Camus; Critique of Pure Reason, Emmanuel Kant; Beyond Good and Evil, Friedriche Nietzsche; Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder; The Book of the Tao, Lao Tzu; Critique of Religion and Philosophy, Walter Kaufmann; The Republic, Plato, and If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Tom Morris.

Second batch: The Upanishads, Anonymous (Hindu); Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, Walter Kauffman; Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedriche Nietzsche; Utopia, Thomas More; Candide, Voltaire; Being and Nothingness, Jean Paul Sartre; On the Suffering of the World, Arthur Schopenhauer; Oration on the Dignity of Man, Pico della Mirandola; Modern Man In Search of a Soul, Carl Gustav Jung; The Dialogic Imagination, Mikhail Bakhtin; Being and Time, Martin Heidegger, and The Decent Society, Avishai Margalit.