Is ethical journalism a practical choice?

14 January 2018
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14 January 2018, Comments Comments Off on Is ethical journalism a practical choice?

How many times have you come across a piece of news and doubted its authenticity? How many times have you mentally disposed of it as nonsense or fake? We are sure that this has happened a-significant number of times. The Quality and authenticity of news have gone down greatly over the years. The need for sensation and growing competition in the news conveyor space has caused the degradation.

 

In order to retain law and order and defective news delivery it must be made sure that the reporting is as true and accurate as possible. While sensationalism may work well in favor of earning high rankings and grabbing eyeballs it often creates havoc or propagates misconception in the minds of readers and viewers.

 

Importance of ethical journalism:

 

The concept of ethical journalism was hence coined to bring about a correction in the deteriorating quality and enhance trust in news reporting. The major objective is to strengthen journalism around the world and all people from the domain need to come together to bring about the desired change. It involves training and research to equip journalists with the ability to understand the surroundings better.

 

The quality of journalism is falling prey to politics, intentions of personal gain, desire to spread hatred, sheer fun etc. It is thus important to stand up for ethics if you believe in truth and honesty.

 

In order to ensure apositive difference in lives and people it is important to communicate freely and peacefully. Trustable facts and information can be conveyed only through ethical journalism.

 

However, is it feasible to incorporate ethical journalism into the real-world scenario?

 

Let us take a look at the underlying principles of ethical journalism below to determine if the implementation is possible:

 

The principles are based on inculcating responsibility among the professionals so that they handle public information sensitively. There are below

 

Truth and accuracy:

 

It is impossible for any journalist to guarantee truth as they can report only what meets the eye and extensive analysis can also not ensure truth. It is however a requisite to get the facts right. If truth cannot be guaranteed, it is important to focus on accuracy based on all relevant information and data. A fact check must be in place before blindly reporting.

 

Feasibility concern:

 

The feasibility can be affected by lack of adequate information and camouflaged facts.

 

Workaround to avoid misreporting:

  • Do a fact check
  • Do not report unverified information
  • Do not report for the sake of sensation
  • If adequate data is not available, report that as well

 

Independence:

 

It is important the journalists be free of political biases and other influence. The independence of voice ensures impartial reporting. Other special interests just as corporate or cultural interests must also be kept at bay from reporting.

 

Feasibility concern:

 

This is a very tough stance for every journalist is a human first and it is likely that they have their own opinion or preference.

 

Workaround to avoid misreporting:

  • Keep reporting impartial irrespective of personal stance
  • Keep personal associations away from journalism
  • Inform to editors and audience about any political or cultural affiliations or grants received to keep them aware.

 

Fairness and balance in stance:

 

We are all aware of the other side of every story that coexists with the one presented. While it is not always necessary to present both the faces, the story delivery must be balanced and not just based on a single side. A context must be established to build trust and confidence.

 

Feasibility concern:

 

The seemingly dominating side of the story often influences the entire reporting and the story that is delivered thereby concealing the other side.

 

For instance:

 

A news article stated how a woman threw her mentally challenged daughter from the balcony of her 4th-floor apartment. While the readers went all furious about the insensitivity of the woman, the underlying mental illness went unnoticed.

 

Workaround to avoid misreporting:

 

It is a great idea to offer a context of another possible side of the story as well. This way all possibilities get equal thought and attention.

 

Humanity:

 

Journalism must aim at minimization of harm. The broadcast may be hurtful but not insensitive. Ample thought must go in to assess the impact of journalism on other lives.

 

Feasibility: It may not be possible to tailor make for everyone but it is just wise to maintain some sensitivity while planning to write or record.

 

Accountability:

 

One must maintain professionalism and responsibility in journalism by being able to hold themselves accountable in case of errors. Committing errors is human but correcting them is a sign of sincerity. Always be ready to offer support when you have been unfair in reporting.

 

Ethical journalism may be a difficult choice but definitely not impossible. Following certain guidelines can ensure that what reaches the audience is in the most undistorted form. This can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Collecting information from as many sources as possible
  • Checking for consistency and facts
  • Publishing with facts and not baseless assumptions
  • Eliminate external influence to minimize distortions
  • Keep personal preferences away from mass communication
  • Respect rights and privacy of the third parties involved
  • Depict all possible sides of the argument to reduce bias
  • If unconfirmed information and rumors need to be published, mention explicitly that it is rumored as such or no facts are available to support this information. This way you can keep the unconfirmed point across in a manner that doesn’t mislead the masses.
  • Inform the audience and editors of your own standing or influence if any.
  • Sensitive matters such as race, religion, color of people mentioned must be talked about only if it is critical to explanation. It may otherwise trigger violence and unrest.
  • The goal must be to deliver news to the masses and not just create sensation

 

A journalist or a reporter is a carrier of sensitive information and the power rests in his hands to make or break a situation. Wise and well-thought moves go a great way in ensuring peace and prosperity.

 

 

 

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