In accepting the Lawrence Minard Editor Award, a Loeb award, Ingrassia, the business and financial editor at the New York Times, said that the current era hearkens "back to the 1930's, not because we're in a depression, but because it's increasingly incumbent on the press to be the watchdog."
This is yet another connection between news and the study of ethics. For every law, there has to be a regulatory agency to ensure it is enforced. And regulatory agencies can't catch everything. The news is the public's guard, or should be. It not only ferrets out some wrongdoing through investigative journalism, but publicizes the consequences.
It's true that publicity can hurt; for instance, it can increase a kidnap victim's value, which was part of the motive in suppressing the news about David Rohde. It can also encourage copycat crimes. However, Madoff's sentence of 150 years, for example, lets potential white collar criminals know what they might be able to expect.
We need the news. And we need to trust our news source. Ethics is a necessary part of journalism, and we must find a way to operate our business, before it goes any further in operating us.