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Journalism has been around for quite awhile, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. However, due to the presence of social media and online communities, this field is constantly changing in form. As a result, a call for ethics in journalism is needed – and here’s what you should know.
Defining Journalism Ethics
Depending upon where you are and the particular entity we’re discussing, the exact definition of journalism ethics might vary a bit. However, the Associated Press Managing Editors‘ piece entitled “Statement of Ethical Principles” notes that responsibility, accuracy, integrity and independence are the ethics on which journalism should stand. That said, it’s important to note that some other entities do expand upon these qualities, depending on their niche and scope.
Providing Accurate Information
Here, we find a problem that often plagues modern journalism. Instead of worrying about providing accurate information to the audience, media outlets want to make sure they’re the first ones to get details on a particular incident. As a result, they wind up providing inaccurate information. Very quickly, many people can and will see this information, take it as fact, and pass it right along. In 2013, journalists need to remember that providing accurate details is a major part of their job, even if no one else seems to care.
What’s Out There
Journalists are also supposed to be responsible for what’s out there, but this is becoming increasingly more difficult in modern times as well. Articles are posted to the Internet almost as soon as the event happens, and the audience can begin to comment on them. Yes, the readers might point out grammatical problems and factual inaccuracies. However, they can also take portions out-of-context and spin them in a way that was never intended by the writer. Journalists might not realize how their words can be manipulated and changed, and they could ultimately wind up starting a whole debate or topic that they never thought possible.
Addressing The Issues
The call for ethics in journalism exists because these issues are so widespread. However, they are difficult to monitor. Journalists, and the leaders of newspapers, magazines, online news sources and other print publications, need to discuss strategies for effectively addressing these issues. Journalism must return to its earlier approach and its goal of providing accurate information because that is the heart of the problem. Instead of racing against one another, they should start to emphasize quality over quantity. Of course, journalists cannot always predict how people are going to take the material they write, but they can still proofread and edit before they submit works into the online world.
Ethics in journalism is comprised of several different categories, and these categories can vary from one outlet to another. However, all journalists and media professionals need to consider the audience and what’s best for them. By starting to revise some of the practices, journalism might be able to return to a more reputable form that people can trust for all issues – large and small.
Bender Rodgers writes about technology and media. His recent work is about the best online schools in communications.
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