Ethics in Journalism

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To become a scholar of philosophy would require a different academic path altogether. However, the influence of ethics in the role of a journalist is a valid and separate consideration for which the reader should be prepared, based on the brief tutorial. Journalistic ethics is the application of the professional standards of this industry.

A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments

These principles are filtered through the broader parameters of philosophy, itself, as well as acceptable social and political assumptions. For example, the journalistic function of keeping the public informed about governmental wrongdoing falls under the commitment of the press to a free and open democracy.


The concept of journalistic ethics is likely to look very different in closed societies where the press is government-run. The student of journalism or a practicing journalist should realize that there are principles that guide this profession. The prerequisite is to have an understanding of the public function of journalism and the standards by which its aims are met.

In other words, what are the duties of a journalist? It would seem there is no question the journalist has a duty to honesty and integrity, to keeping a promise and actively serving the public good, while avoiding undue harm. Journalists are expected to meet their socially imposed obligation to their skills to offer fair and unbiased reporting, ensuring that a diverse and comprehensive presentation of a story is offered. Journalists are also reminded of their potential to influence readers, the subject of their reporting, and the greater society they serve, and not to abuse this influence.

The journalist must therefore have a deep understanding of the ethical functions of the profession, always be looking to improve and reform standards and construct new ones as necessary, and to promote ethical behavior — in part by acting as a role model, but also by having the willingness to point out the abuse of ethics in this, and other, industries.

These concepts are not ones that have been pulled from thin air. All can be traced back to the ethical code developed by the Society of Professional Journalists SPJ , an organization forged in the United States, which takes responsibility for reviewing standards and practices as a means of offering guidance and a framework to journalists, as they carry out their duties.

According to SPJ, the journalist's functions include keeping the public honestly informed and acting as a watchdog for abuse of power in public and private practices, and maintaining an open forum for free expression. The journalist must actively seek out truth, independent of influence, while avoiding undue harm. The journalist must also be willing to be held accountable for his or her actions. Ethical Duties of the Journalist. The journalist must offer the reader a fair, unbiased presentation of facts. The journalist must not allow personal relationships with sources to tarnish the truth.

The journalist must obey the law in pursuit of the news.

Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists - IFJ

The journalist must not allow competition to taint their professional responsibilities. Journalists must not represent themselves as a mouthpiece for a news source, unless permitted. The journalist must also disclose potential conflicts.

The journalist must be cognizant of their obligations to their employer. As a journalist, the following questions should guide your news gathering, writing, editing, and any other aspect of dispensing your duties. Are there any ethical problems that exist in my pursuit or writing of this story? If so, can they be neutralized, or should the story be turned over to another journalist? What are the ethical issues of this story? What are the conflicting values and relevant facts?

What are all of the options as I approach this story? What are my duties and responsibilities to myself, my employer, the parties involved, and the public? What will be the consequences to each? What will be the consequences to my character? Can I formulate an ethical justification for pursuit of this story?

Can I justify my actions ethically, morally, professionally? Am I able to draw similarities to past situations that will help guide my decision-making? Is my behavior representative of the profession? Their employer and the state are much more seldom mentioned in these ethical rulebooks. The self-regulation system of journalism Go back to the beginning of this section. Skip to content The work of a journalist is controlled in the end by national and international laws. What is ethics in journalism? To whom is a journalist responsible for?

Fake news, political and corporate propaganda, and shameless online abuse threaten democracy and open up new frontlines for free-speech defenders, policymakers, and media professionals alike. A toxic mix of digital technology, unscrupulous politics and commercial exploitation of the new communications landscape is creating stress fractures across the wider landscape of public information.

The Most Important Ethical Issues in Journalism Are the Human Ones

With this in mind, EJN has promoted a new debate about the need to recognize why journalism, which is constrained by its framework of ethics, is essential for building public trust. We find that there is no widespread yearning for a new code of ethics among the media or the public. The core values of accuracy, independence and responsible reporting — which have evolved over the past years — remain as relevant as ever, even in these digital times. What is needed, says EJN, is a new partnership with media audiences and policymakers to persuade them that ethical journalism should be strengthened, and that it can be used as an inspiration for new programmes to promote information literacy.

Ethical Journalism

But this should be a voluntary process and not driven by law. The problem is that the tech giants that dominate the public information space, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, circulate information in a value-free environment. They give no priority to information as a public good, such as professional journalism. For them, journalism competes on an equal footing in their marketing with other information, even if it is malicious and abusive.

It matters not whether information is ethical, true or honest; what counts is whether it is sensational, provocative, and stimulating enough to attract attention. After recent scandals — like the outrage over censorship of iconic photographs, the live-streaming of torture and murder, and major corporations complaining about their advertisements being placed on websites preaching terrorism, hate and child abuse — the technology companies have promised to act.

But will it be enough?

click Facebook has a subscriber base of two billion, which means that there is one content reviewer per , or so, users. One simple answer would be for tech companies to accept their role as publishers in the digital age and to draw upon the vast pool of informed and ethical journalists currently displaced by the information revolution.