It's true that Beyond Good & Evil's primary theme is the freedom of the press. In the game the media is ultimately represented as necessary for individual liberty. Yet for such an essential organ of society, the press still retains a remarkable amount of moral ambivalence. The staff of IRIS and the reports of their rivals at the Hillyan Word characterize this.

In a parody of the fickle real-world media, the Hillyan Word, long having peddled the government line and branded the IRIS Network as terrorists, change their tone following a conclusively damning broadcast by their rivals.

"The truth has finally been revealed by our trustworthy colleagues from the IRIS Network ... once again, the honourable journalistic profession was able to show that it had a preponderant role in history."

The echoes of media faintheartedness by no means end in the offices of the Hillyan Word. An early investigation sees Jade infiltrate the slaughterhouse and abandoned factories of Hillys that have been commandeered by Alpha Section troops. There you discover an elaborate human trafficking operation. Jade witnesses all this firsthand. From the shadows she positions herself for the best photos, perfectly documenting the torture and transportation of her fellow citizens.

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Upon returning to the IRIS headquarters Jade expresses her guilt after leaving the victims to their fate: "I couldn't do anything," she tells her editor. "There were guards everywhere. Impossible to get close to the victims." Her excuse seems valid enough. But you can't shake the feeling that Jade and her fellow reporter Double H - someone more than capable of holding his own against several foes - were taking a utilitarian gamble, hoping their undercover photos and reports could do more good than any physical attempt at rescue.

Jade is no stranger to utilitarian reasoning. She is prepared to steal for her personal mission of informing the public. Early in the game she takes a pearl from the sealed stash of Rufus, an aggressive barfly. "Sorry Rufus, but Hillys needs this more than you right now," she says to herself as she makes a discreet getaway.

Utility is certainly an excuse reporters use in reality. Following utilitarian ethics will lead journalists to report on affairs they believe are in the public interests, regardless of whatever harm it causes to individuals. But often reporters do not need to resort to this justification. It is much more common for journalists to cite the importance of objective detachment.

Detachment is highly regarded in journalism. In the U.K. the BBC issues guidelines to its program makers that they should be "impartial" and "dispassionate" in their reports. The argument is that a reporter should be a trusted observer of the facts but not a commenter on them. He should present the facts and allow the viewer or reader to make up his own mind. He should be the eyes - not the mind - of the public.

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