Jurnalism and the role of ethics

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Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Communications & Media ・MLA ・4 Sources

Ethics plays a very critical part in media since it is the foundation for knowledge and conversation. By definition, the term "ethics" is essentially the agreed code of conduct or the accepted way of doing things in any particular entity. Journalism, on the other hand, is an area synonymous with mass broadcasting, where information is sent to the masses by the internet.

Professor Tony Kashani defines ethics as an activity or a law and a guideline that people do on a regular basis (""Topics in Ethics""). People are governed by certain laws and regulations that relate to a particular community or organisation. Thus, ethics and journalism cannot be separated as they are one. Journalist reach huge masses which comprise of various races with diverse culture and beliefs. It is therefore important for them to know how to interact or communicate through language without instigating controversies. In his video presentation, Kashani points out two types of ethics which are very important for journalist ("Topics in Ethics"). The first is normative ethics and the other is applied ethics. Normative ethics are the various sets of rules and principles that determine the Dos and Don’ts. Journalist are thought to have normative ethics by default. Through normative ethics, reporters know how to fit in any society. This is to some extent related to culture. For instance, when reporters move from one geographical area to another, they meet different communities, each with a distinct culture. For them to remain professional and reliable they should adapt by realizing the kind of language to use, and what to avoid.

According to Kashani, applied ethics is concerned with theories used to instigate change. Closely linked with politics, it is the tries to incorporate new ideas in a system, hence changing the norm of doing things. Thus journalist should be sensitive with the social issues such as abortion that are normally dealt with in politics. In relation to this two types of ethics, Tony also discusses various ethical theories that affect particular ways in which people view ethics, including journalists. The first which is under normative ethics is the duty ethics theory. The prime objects of this theory are Aristotle and Kant. Aristotle believed that people who were virtuous formed the moral basis of the duty system in decision making process ("Virtue Ethics: What is It?"). Kant also campaigned for the duty system. He believed that duty goes first before motive. Through this, we see the modern day actions made by people who value morals and duty above everything else.

The other theory mentioned by is the utilitarian. This theory is also known to be consequential and it opposes the duty theory. Jeremy Bentham was known to be a believer of this theory. He argued that pleasure should be sought without limiting self to certain moral principles(Pavlik and McIntosh 296). That if a majority of the population enjoyed something and the minority didn’t, it is okay to push for it. This theory was not embraced by many as it focuses on self-desires at the expense of other people’s happiness. This two theories are applied by journalists, depending on their up bring and religious background. This is seen in the way some reports bring about controversies because of the nature in which they were presented to the public. For example, a reporter may choose to side with a certain majority since there is an anticipated gain. This is a total utilitarian perspective.

In this regard, journalism ethics can be summarized by five major principles. These are a must for any aspiring journalist. These include fairness, responsibility, independence, truthfulness, and humanity ("Five Principles of Journalism - Media Ethics"). For a journalist, one has to be fair, and by this, he/she has to be fair by every sense of the word. For this to apply, one has to consider both sides of a story. Each side carries its own facts. Thus it is important to balance both sides of a report for sensitivity sake (Pavlik and McIntosh 246). Responsibility or accountability is also crucial. This means that one must be ready to rectify his/her own mistakes. The don’t care attitude should not be considered as an option as it is not professional. Journalists should also strive to be true, true to self, and true to humanity. In the sense that facts should be presented in any report. By so doing, no harm will be done to humanity, since the presentation of half-truths has always been the cause of strife and discord among the general populace. The last and yet important is independence. Journalist should always act on their own, by virtue of reason and logic. They should not act under the influence of an external force or for selfish reasons.

Works cited

"Five Principles of Journalism - Media Ethics." Ethical Journalism Network, ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/who-we-are/5-principles-of-journalism.

Pavlik, John V, and Shawn McIntosh. "From Information to Participation." Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication, 2017, pp.243-256.

"Topics in Ethics." YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=dClzdObEkdU.

"Virtue Ethics: What is It?" YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8bDxQDMRCU.

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