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News Ethics: Ideals and Realities Jeanelle Andersen Professor Joseph Griffin ENG 252 15 Februar 2!


Andersen 2

#e ha$e all encountered the ridiculous trails of %ossip&'(ill told )usie* )usie told +laire* and +laire told ,att* who told -e./0 And do we belie$e what this person is tellin% us1 I hope that we ha$e the sense to ta2e it with a %rain of salt3 If so-e do initiall listen to ,s3 (us bod * it is li2el that the learn 4uic2l to i%nore her co-pletel 3 #h * then* do so -an of us ta2e at face $alue the news we recei$e fro- the -edia1 #hat -a2es the- -ore trustworth in our e es than the co--unit %ossip1 5here are ethical codes for 6ournalists and those in$ol$ed in news -edia&-oral $alues that -an uphold in their occupational sphere3 7owe$er* there are incidents in our societ when the decisions -ade and the news portra ed b the -edia are not so upstandin% but are founded upon sha2 ethics and 4uestionable -oti$es3

THE (IDEAL) ETHICS OF JOURNALISM 5he )ociet of Professional Journalists pro$ides an official +ode of Ethics for its -e-bers and those otherwise interested3 5hou%h such a code cannot be forced upon the 6ournalistic wor2force b law* -an adhere to it as a %uide for their wor23 5here are -an codes of ethics for 6ournalists fro- all o$er the nation* but this particular code clarifies four subdi$isions of $alues for which to stri$e: ')ee2 5ruth and Report It*0 ',ini-i8e 7ar-*0 'Act Independentl *0 and '(e Accountable0 9')ociet of Professional Journalists0:3 5he ethics listed b this or%ani8ation are thorou%h and particular* -an of the- addressin% source reliabilit * the a$oidance of bias* protectin% the news and their wor2 fro- corruption* a need for sensiti$it in -an instances* and a stron% sense of inte%rit in %eneral3 ;ndoubtedl * if societ could be assured that all news -edia would uphold these standards* their credibilit would be fir-3 7owe$er* such hi%h ideals are not alwa s adhered to* and in labelin% what is ethical* we -ust

Andersen > identif what is unethical3

INTENTIONAL MANIPULATION <ne e=a-ple in which news -edia -a act unethicall is in intentional -anipulation of presented -aterial3 Granted* so-e news -edia is e=pected to ha$e dra-atic bias such as news -a%a8ines dedicated to a certain political part or si-ilarl the-ed tal2 shows3 7owe$er* too often the news -edia one e=pects to be neutral and purel infor-ati$e has an end%a-e be ond si-pl deli$erin% the news3 7ow do actual e$ents and truth beco-e warped to tar%etin%* perhaps -isleadin%* stories1 5his process can be%in with 4uestions or accusations&opinions alread affi=ed about which reporters decide to write a slanted article3 '5he conflict arises when 6ournalists see2 a definiti$e an%le to build a stor around0 9Rotherha- >??:3 5ruth slips 4uic2l awa when reporters ha$e a decided opinion or 'understandin%0 before an research has ta2en place3 5hese predispositions lead to -aterial that is en%ineered to fit an idea rather than allowin% truth and facts to build the stor 3 5he reasons behind this en%ineerin% $ar 3 )tephen )calf* 6ournalist and owner of the +arlisle +ourier paper* su%%ests that -an 6ournalists* who often face an audience si%nificantl co-prisin% of those under@infor-ed persons who also* tra%icall * fail to put effort into researchin% the issues and de$elopin% stable opinions* feel as thou%h the -ust write in a wa that %uides these 'sheep*0 tellin% the- what opinions the should ha$e3 5his sounds almost li2e a 2indness* thou%h )calf points out that it is insultin% to those who do not fit the la8 * apathetic bill3 )till* there are shadier incenti$es than tr in% to tell people what to thin23 )o-e headlines -a si-pl be printed in hopes of pea2in% interest and sellin% -aterialA this itself is hardl news and can be e=pected fro- a co-pan see2in% profit3 5he lines %et

Andersen " blurred when the catch headline is -isleadin%3 5he +arlisle ,ercur * a newspaper sharin% localit with the +arlisle +ourier* posted on their Faceboo2 webpa%e on Januar 2B* 2!1"* 'In this wee2Cs Edition: IR) Files ta= lien a%ainst hospital* which i--ediatel cuts 6obs30 )calf responded on Januar >!: As a -e-ber of J,7+* Inc3 (oard of 5rustees* I wrote a letter to the editor e=pressin% - shoc2 that 5he ,ercur would print a notice without pro$idin% the answer to who* what* where* when* wh @ basic 6ournalis- @ statin%: 'I find it e=tre-el irresponsible and a %reat disser$ice to the co--unit and the %ood people e-plo ed at the hospital @ -an of the- friends* fa-il -e-bers* and nei%hbors or our readers @ to stir up fear when ou ob$iousl do not ha$e the facts30 5o this* the ,ercur denied that an -ista2e had been -ade or falsehood spread3 And in all this bac2@and@forth between two local papers* what shall the co--unit Cs readers belie$e1 Irresponsible -ana%e-ent of the news can so easil spread confusion and disa%ree-ent3 )calf wrote of three wa s b which societ -a readil chec2 to decide if the are recei$in% fair and unbiased news3 First* deter-ine b the content and deli$er of the news if its purpose is to infor- or to persuade3 )econd* research other sources* especiall those co-pletel distant fro- in$ol$e-ent and with* therefore* no -oti$ation but to infor-3 5hird* be leer of %i--ic2s3 5he e=pert opinion 9celebrit spo2esperson:A 5he sur$e 9B out of 1! Dentists reco--end:A 5he e-otional appeal 9the cr of in6ustice E so-ethin% -ust be done:A Generali8ation 9ta2in% an isolated incident and appl in% to the %eneral public:A Jin%lesF)lo%ansF+atch Phrases 9catch sound bites:A Repetition 9if ou

Andersen 5 hear it often enou%h* it -ust be true:A I-a%e 9best@loo2in% newscaster* best@ soundin% radio $oice G credibilit :3 9)calf: Readers* watchers* and listeners should watch for such warped 'news0 and should do their best to deri$e the facts out of the bias* research* and stri$e not to be a carrier and spreader of the disease that is distortion3 In this -odern era* there is -uch roo- for distortion3 5echnolo% calls into 4uestion a no$el slew of actions* which will be considered in %reater depth later on* which -ust be decided to be 'ri%ht0 or 'wron%30 +() News -ade one such offense on the e$e of the turn of the centur 3 5he used technolo% to edit a si%n in 5i-es )4uare* portra in% o$er their $ideo broadcast the +() lo%o when* in realit * that si%n depicted the lo%o for N(+3 <pportunities* te-ptations* such as this present a 'co-ple= ethical -inefield0 for the news -edia 9Pa$li2:3 +() had co$ered the ad$ertise-ent for which N(+ had* undoubtedl * paid3 5his alternation e=e-plifies the ethical wron%doin% that acco-panies intentional -anipulation of the news3 It also calls attention to the appeal of o-ittin% -aterial fro- presented news3

INTENTIONAL OMISSION ,artin Huther said* 'Iou are not onl responsible for what ou sa * but also for what ou do not sa 30 )calf* too* brou%ht this point to li%ht in his afore-entioned co--ents about the irresponsibilit of 6ournalis- that lac2s crucial answers to basic in$esti%ati$e 4uestions3 5rul * it would be fascinatin% to 2now which happens -ore* control of the news throu%h the an%les and spinnin% of present -aterial or control of the news throu%h abate-ent of essentialities3 5he )PJ +ode of Ethics states* 'Journalists should: Ad-it -ista2es and correct thepro-ptl .JandK E=pose unethical practices of 6ournalists and the news -edia30 In 2!!5* the

Andersen M Environmental Health Perspectives 6ournal published an article written to infor- of* correct* and e=plain the falsehoods of an article earlier published b the 6ournal3 5his is considered an ethical response to so-eone elseCs unethical actions of withholdin% i-portant infor-ation3 5he article describes the process throu%h which a hired freelance 6ournalistCs wor2 was sent* for re$iew* to the author of a stud that was connected and in$ol$ed with the stud about which the 6ournalist was reportin%3 5his author was bribed and si%nificantl re$ised the wor2 of the hired freelance reporter to pre$ent a da-a%in%* thou%h truthful* re$iew 9)ass and )olo-on AL?@LL:3 EHP sent the article to this author for editin%* but she $enall betra ed the hard wor2 of the 6ournalist and the ethical code of her occupation3 7ere we see a fantastic e=a-ple of the te-ptations and e=ecution of choosin% to o-it infor-ation&this -a see- -ore li2e -anipulationA howe$er* there was no spin on a half@truth3 It was co-plete e=clusion of the truth as well as a %ood e=a-ple of what should be done to correct such -isbeha$ior3 At the other end of the spectru- of intention lur2s a stri2in% 4uestion of the -oralit of withholdin% intelli%ence: Is it still unethical if done for incorrupt purposes1 If there are a strin% of bur%laries in the count * ou can report about a cri-e wa$e hittin% the count and scare people.or ou can wait a couple of da s and report that the sheriff andFor police ha$e arrested the suspects.5he one -ethod of reportin% pro-otes fear and the attitude that cri-e is ra-pantA the other* while ac2nowled%in% that cri-e e=ists* pro-otes confidence in the abilit of our local law enforce-ent and a sense of securit JsicK3 9)calf: 5hou%h )calfCs idea is clear* his reasonin% is less than 6udicious3 Perhaps le%iti-ac was lost in the i-plication that an article si-pl infor-in% the public to be on %uard for the-sel$es and others would* in fact* s-ite the co--unit with the ut-ost fear3 )calf* howe$er* redee-s his

Andersen ? clai- with a $alid e=a-ple in his withholdin% of infor-ation about the sale of a nursin% ho-e3 7e notes that* had he e=posed that the nursin% ho-e was bein% sold* he could ha$e potentiall co-plicated the sellin% -atters and could ha$e e$en cost -an people their 6obs* so he 2ept the infor-ation to hi-self for a ear and a half until the ho-e sold3 'I felt at that ti-e E and still do E that the publicCs I,,EDIA5E Nri%ht to 2nowC is so-eti-es o$ershadowed b what is in the co--unit Cs best interests0 9)calf:3 Now is a %ood ti-e to recall the )PJCs ethical cate%or of '-ini-i8Jin%K har-30 It see-s that in this re%ard* so-eti-es the -ore ethical choice is to contain intelli%ence that will li2el cause unnecessar da-a%e and -a e$en be -ore of a disser$ice to societ to -a2e public3 Purposefull withholdin% infor-ation can so easil per$ert the $irtue of the news3 <-ission re4uires careful discretion when stri$in% to uphold ethical codes3 #hether this o-ission is collusi$e or protecti$e in nature* it -ust be noted that* often* rele$ant infor-ation is not reported upon si-pl because of perfunctor 6ournalis-3

NEGLIGENCE AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS IN A DIGITAL AGE 5he technolo%ical a%e in which we li$e has altered -an of the d na-ics of 6ournalistic and editorial wor23 5he result of -an of these new chan%es is pressure for increased ti-eliness* conciseness* and topical appealA all the while* these de-ands are forcin% the news -edia to forfeit -an efforts to be scrupulous3 A-id all the de-ands in news -edia occupations* ti-eliness is e=tre-el pre$alent3 <ur world is fast@paced* and there is an attitude of deser$in%ness sweepin% across societ A we e=pect to hear the news* and we e=pect to hear it pro-ptl 3 5he e=i%encies of the public* in tande- with the pressures of co-petin% with other news -edia* set the sta%e for a tra%ed if one is hopin% for perfectl thorou%h* accurate* and s --etrical reportin%3 All these factors enco-pass what is

Andersen L 2nown as 'hard news30 5his brand of news presents e=traordinar stress to an un ieldin% ethical bea-: For tele$ision news wor2ers these e$ents are unscheduled* short@li$ed* non@ routine and perishable3 5he tas2 structure of news wor2 is precarious in these situations b dint of deadlines and the speed necessar for %ettin% to the e$ent* s2illfull fil-in% it* doin% the Nstor C and then preparin% the e$ent@as@tele$ision@ news for the e$enin% pro%ra-3 ,oreo$er* the ris2 of -a2in% crucial -ista2es is accentuated because hard news co$era%e in$ol$es irre$ocable decisions3 9Gelles and Faul2ner LB: 5here is -uch roo- for and attracti$eness in bein% ne%li%ent in the e es of the news -edia* which is swa-ped with responsibilities that now include technolo%ical re4uire-ents3 #ith all these chan%in% e=pectations* 6ournalists and editors are re4uired to e=pand their breadth of s2ill sets* so-eti-es bein% forced far be ond their co-fort 8ones3 News -edia is e=pected to pro$ide online access* -eanin% 6ournalists ha$e -ore wor2 to doA additionall * -an news staffs ha$e been thinned 9)in%er B1@B2:3 In 2!!B* a lar%e -eetin% was held in which The New York Times ,i2e Richard e=pressed that* in re%ards to online news wor2* so-e perfection had to be sacrificed3 Ji- Fran2lin* The Boston Globe* noted that what is published online -a be edited after@the@fact3 Fran2lin also shared that 6ob descriptions and responsibilities for e$er wor2er now spanned the spectru- of possibilities* re%ardless of under@4ualification or lac2 of basic 2now@how 9)in%er B2:3 Pressure* pressure* pressure3 5hose in such an o$erwhel-ed state -a find the-sel$es -ore willin% to co-pro-ise their ethical standards in order to %et so-e 2ind of news handed in and sent out3 5here is little roo- for inefficienc * and as -an2ind does* there ha$e been wa s -ade to assure %reater producti$it * ethical or not3

Andersen B In an article about the inappropriate portra al of the econo- throu%h news -edia* Ooll-e er -entions potential faultiness in news -ediaCs research -ethodolo% 3 7e describes the fallac that well@rounded and whole stories can be pieced to%ether with infor-ation fro'routini8ed0 research -ethods and sources* which is now the techni4ue of -an in the business3 5hese habits hasten the wor23 'Research on this sub6ect finds that 6ournalists with the national press corps* when %atherin% infor-ation for stories about the econo- * sa the Nnearl alwa sC consult business spo2espersons appro=i-atel si= ti-es -ore fre4uentl than union representati$es0 9Ooll-e er ">?:3 <ne can see how this easil s2ews %athered infor-ation* lea$in% a lac2 of fullness to the research and hinderin% the inte%rit of the news3 )ources should be di$erse but reliable* balancin% the perspecti$es of an in$ol$ed* and ieldin% a -ore $eracious interpretation3 5ruth should be characteristic of an published news3 Journalists deal with nu-erous occupational pressuresA these pressures increase the li2elihood of i--oral beha$ior and wor23 As the stru%%le to -eet the de-ands of the news -edia and societ * editors and 6ournalists should be as thorou%h as the can in their research and should tr to co$er stories fro- unbiased an%les3

CONCLUSION As those who contribute to the news -edia %o about their wor2* it is e=tre-el i-portant that the $oluntaril hold to a code of ethics3 )ociet can stri$e to watch out for unethical and -isleadin% news co$era%e b usin% the -ethods su%%ested b )calf3 )o-e i--oral beha$ior will co-e throu%h -aterial that has been warped* so-e will co-e throu%h withholdin% of i-portant infor-ation* and so-e will be the result of ne%li%ence3 5hou%h not all choices -ade

Andersen 1! b those in the news -edia are ethical* we can ta2e co-fort in 2nowin% that there are -an ethical 6ournalists in the field and that the will 'Encoura%e the public to $oice %rie$ances a%ainst the news -edia.E=pose unethical practices of 6ournalists and the news -edia.JandK Abide b the sa-e hi%h standards to which the hold others0 9')ociet of Professional Journalists0:3 Accountabilit of so-e encoura%es the sa-e of othersA throu%h the co-ple=ities of the wor2* ethics re4uire unwa$erin% de$otion in order to -a2e a difference and %i$e us a societ in which we could loo2 to the tele$ision&or the newspaper or radio&and feel at ease belie$in% all we heard reported3

Andersen 11 #or2s +ited Gelles* Richard J3* and Robert R3 Faul2ner3 P5i-e and 5ele$ision News #or2Q3P The Sociological Quarterl 1B31 91B?L:: LB@1!23 !ST"#3 #eb3 Ooll-e er* +hristopher J3 P+orporate Interests: 7ow the News ,edia Portra the Econo- 3P Social Problems 513> 92!!":: ">2@523 !ST"#3 #eb3 Pa$li2* John R3 PDi%ital 5echnolo% And Journalis- Ethics3P Television Quarterl >132@> 92!!!:: >M@">3 $rt %ull Te&t 'H()( )ilson*3 #eb3 15 Feb3 2!1"3 Rotherha-* Andrew J3 '5he 5ranslators: 5he ,edia and )chool +hoice Research30 The Phi +elta ,appan LB35 92!!L:: >?M@>?B3 !ST"#3 #eb3 )ass* Jennifer* and Gina )olo-on3 PInappropriate Influence b Industr on E7P News Article3P Environmental Health Perspectives 11>32 92!!5:: AL?@LL3 !ST"#3 #eb3 )calf* )3 PInter$iew with )tephen )calf3P E@-ail inter$iew3 Feb3 2!1"3 )in%er* Jane (3 PJournalis- Ethics a-id )tructural +han%e3P +ae-alus 1>B32 92!1!:: LB@BB*15"3 ProQuest3 #eb3 P)ociet of Professional Journalists I-pro$in% and Protectin% Journalis- since 1B!B3P SP! .o-e o/ Ethics3 N3p3* n3d3 #eb3