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Ethics in Journalism

05 Oct 2016Business Essays

Journalistic ethics can be called the branch of philosophy which aids journalist in determining what is right to do. It is ultimately concerned with providing moral principles or norms for journalistic actions as such it might be considered as a normative science of conduct. Perhaps art would really be a better term for it is actually unscientific because there is a reluctance to prescribe for the individual any one system of ethics. This will make the journalist be aware and concerned and at the same time will permit him to retain a sense of autonomy.

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Ethics is very much a normative science of conduct, with conduct considered primarily as self-determining voluntary conduct. Ethics has to do with “self- legislation” and “self-enforcement” although it is, of course, related to law; it is of a different nature. Although law quite often stems from the ethical values of a society at a certain time, the law is something that is socially determined and socially enforced. Ethics, on the other hand, is personally determined and personally enforced-- or should be. Ethics should provide the journalist certain basic principles or standards by which he can judge actions to be right or wrong, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible.

When we enter to an area of journalistic ethics, we pass into a swampland of philosophical speculation where eerie mists of judgment hang low over a boggy terrain. In spite of the unsure footing and poor visibility, there is no reason not to make the journey. In fact, it is a journey well worth taking for it brings the matter of morality to the individual person; it forces the journalist, among others, to consider his basic principles, his values, and his obligations to himself and to others. It forces him to decide for himself how he will live, how he will conduct his journalistic affairs.

Ethics has to do with duty - duty to self and/ or duty to others. It is primarily individual or personal even will it relates to obligations and duties to others. This duality of individual and social morality is implicit in the very concept of ethics. The journalist, for example, is not simply writing for consumption of others: he is writing as self-expression, and he puts himself and his very being into his journalism.

A concern for ethics is important. The journalist who has this concern obviously cares about good or right actions; such a concern indicates an attitude that embraces both freedom and personal responsibility. It indicates also that the journalist desires to discover norms for action that will serve him as guiding principles of specific directives in achieving the kind of life, which he thinks most meaningful and satisfying. Ethical concern is important also for it forces the journalist to commitment, to the thoughtful decision among alternatives. It leads him to seek the summum bonum, the highest good in journalism, thereby heightening his authenticity as a person and journalist.

Theories of Journalism

The theory reflects the market as a suitable institutional form as well as tall top-down professional provision and the control. Participation and interaction are the key concepts.

In social responsibility theory, it involves that the media ownership and the operations are the form of public trust or stewardship, rather than an unlimited private franchise. For the privately owned media, social responsibility theory has been expressed and applied mainly in the form of codes of professional journalistic standards, ethics, and conductor in various kinds of council or tribunal fro dealing with the individual complaints. While authoritarian theory can justify advance censorship and the punishment for deviation from the rules laid down by political authorities. This as likely to be observed in dictatorial regimes, under this condition of military rule or foreign occupation and even the during states of extreme emergency in a democratic society.

With regards to soviet theory, the media assigned as the collective agitator, propagandist and the educator in the building of communication. Not surprisingly the theory did not favor the free expression but it did not propose a positive role for the media in society and in the world as a whole. Libertarian theory and the press freedom draw on the ideas of a classical liberalism and thus referring to the idea that the press should be a free marketplace in which the best would be recognized. In one respect it is the simple extension to the press of the fundamental individual rights to freedom of opinion, speech and religion and the assembly. However, the development media theory was intended to recognize the fact that societies undergoing a transition from the underdevelopment and colonialism to independence and the better material conditions often lack the infrastructure, the many the traditions the professional skills and audiences needed to sustain media institutions.

Another theory is the democratic-participant theory, which is proposed in the recognition of a new media development and the increasing criticism of the dominance of the main mass media by private or even public monopolies. The theory supports the rights to relevant local information, the right to answer back and the use of new means of communication for interaction and the social action in small-scale settings of a community.

Impartiality and Objectivity Discussion

The underlying technological innovation of media has a relatively affect the framework on the standards norms, the technical and as well as its institutional forms of theories. The principle of equality support the policies and meanings of journalism, however, it depends on the capacity of the media system, that there should have enough space on different and mutually independent channels fro any degree of quality that is in practice. When we talked of impartiality and or objectivity in broadcast journalism, each of which has a particular and significant role in the broadest sense of journalism. These qualities have to do with the theories and its application for a formal notion and the standard. And thus, took elaborate care to ensure that it observed a commitment to impartiality, as a professional and public duty.Given its responsibilities as a trustee in the national interest, this could not be seen to be expressing a partisan position, especially in matters of public policy.

Ever since media has helped a lot to society by informing what’s happening in the surrounding whether it’s good or bad news. It reflects the structure and content on the various social, economic and cultural realities of communities in which it operates and thus served as the points of view in the society. The principle applied to actual media has become specific in its normative requirement and also with its elements.

Why is it that impartiality relates to morality? It is best described that impartiality is sometimes treated by the philosophers as if it were equivalent to moral impartiality. Or, at the very least, the former word is often used, without the qualifying adjective “moral”, even when it is the particular moral concept that is intended. This is misleading since impartiality in its broadest sense is best understood as a formal notion, while moral impartiality, in particular, is a substantive concept –and one concerning which there is a considerable dispute. This entry will predominantly concerned with moral impartiality – the sort of impartiality, that is, that commonly features in normative moral and political theories.

Many attempts to characterize impartiality fail to respect the distinction between the broadest, most formalistic sense of the notion, and a more specifically moral impartiality. To say, for instance, that an impartial choice is one that is free of bias or prejudice is to presuppose that we are dealing with a certain sort of impartiality, that which is required or recommended by morality, of at least worthy of moral approbation. ’Bias’ and ‘prejudice’ are loaded terms, suggesting not only that some consideration is being excluded, but also that the exclusion is appropriate and warranted. Similarly, the idea that impartiality requires that we give equal and/or adequate consideration to the interests of all concerned parties goes well beyond the requirements of the merely formal notion.

The ideal of impartiality in journalism is an idealistic fiction. It is impossible to adopt an unsituated point of view, and if a point of view is situated, it cannot stand apart from and understand all points of view. Is it impossible to reason about the substantive moral issues without understanding their substance, which always presupposes some particular social and historical context; and one has no motive for making moral judgments and resolving moral dilemmas unless the outcome matters unless one has a particular and passionate interest in the outcome. When a class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and age define different social locations, one subject cannot fully empathize with another in a different social location, adopt her own point of view; if that were possible then the social location would not be different.

Many questions of how best to ensure that the newscast conveyed a commitment to impartiality for its audience was a serious challenge. On this basis it will best show off how notions such as impartiality, balance, and fairness were codified as the guiding principles for broadcast journalism, thus, demonstrate a proper balance of views within its individual program. Moreover, the accuracy and impartiality required by the Television Act, it is somewhat boastful and nevertheless reaffirms how from a journalistic point of view and the tenets of impartiality tend to be rendered as being consistent with professionalism. On the contrary, this discipline of impartiality with its appeal to the separation of news and opinion also had implication configurations of the public for its newscast. Impartiality, if it was interpreted actively and in form of passively could be a means both of the protection of our independence and strengthening the power of news, resulting to the true meaning of journalism. It was also served as a safeguard against pressures it has made not only from the government or other people of power but also against the views and whims of the companies.

A form of reporting which deals in events and statements which can be checked against sources and are presented free from comment, or else separated from any comment is objectivity. It involves the truth criteria accuracy and the intention not to mislead or suppress what is in good faith and relevance.

Reporting both sides and having a neutral point of view are the qualities of broadcast journalism being an objective. With the expectation that media provide information of reasonable quality and thus, however, provides rather follows a normative foundation. Its mean features include the neutrality towards the object that is being reported by them, well of course in the absence of personal involvement, telling what is truth and not taking sides or showing biases. Reporting practice and its ideal standard has become a dominant role of the journalist as a profession. The freedom to report can only be obtained in return for a guarantee of objectivity.

Furthermore, objectivity is achieved through the use of the historical method, and peer review is essential to objectivity in all academic fields. Objectivity of approach is important in the social sciences and in decision-making processes which affect groups of people. Taking an objective approach to an issue means having due regard for known relevant facts and rules, attempting to attain as much information as possible and discounting appeals to personal feelings in the reasoning process. If relevant evidence is omitted, an objective approach to an issue may be compromised.

The concept of objectivity in philosophy does not necessarily entail notions about a neutral point of vie, as the term is defined and prescribed. A neutral point of view is not to personally take a point of view that is to represent all sides of the story without personal observation and conjecture.

Objectivity as a method of philosophy is dependent upon the presupposition distinguishing references in the field of epistemology regarding the ontological status of a possible objective reality and a state of being objective in regard to references towards whatever is considered as objective reality. In other words, what is real and how do we know we infer about the real is true. Inherent to the distinction is a paradoxical notion that despites the various meanings or definitions assigned to the concept by various disciplines, schools of thought or individual philosophers, ultimately there is the body of knowledge referred to which is considered representative of a single reality.

Questions about objectivity are central to the different branches of philosophy. Philosophers debate what might be a definition of objectivity and how if all we can ascertain the truth or contest that the concept of objectivity can be defined at all. Proposed answer may vary by subject matter. Empirical evidence based on observations and experimentation in the physical world is conducive to the verification of scientific judgments and adherence to the rules of deduction and the process of inductive reasoning implements the determination of the validity and the soundness of scientific arguments and conclusions.

Objectivity requires a fair and non-discriminatory attitude to sources and to objects of news reporting, it should be treated on balance and equal terms. However, if the different point of views on matters where the facts / evidence are in dispute, it should be treated as of equal standing and relevance, then other things being equal. Objectivity gives their own news product a higher and a wider market value because its standard has a wide currency, policies in broadcasting is a concern for objectivity and sometimes a condition of their independence. It also recognizes with values as well as the facts that have evaluative implications.

Objectivity has component criteria and this are: underneath objectivity is the factuality which deals with the truth, relevance and informativeness of the news media. While the other one is impartiality which requires a balance and neutrality of the events in a newscast. And thus, this component has given an extra element which is important to understand fuller of objectivity. The reference is to qualities of information, which are likely to improve the chances of actuality getting informational content.


What I have learned on this topic is that impartiality and objectivity are the qualities of broadcast journalism. A journalist should have something like a neutral point of view, not taking a stand on any issues and are simply to report what “both sides” of an issue. Impartiality in short, as an obligation of justice, may be said to mean, being exclusively influenced by the consideration which it is supposed ought to influence the particular case in hand; and resisting the solicitation of any motives which prompt to conduct different from what those considerations would dictate. I have observed that objectivity went hand in hand with the need to make profits to the news by selling advertising. Publishers did not want to offend any potential advertising customers and therefore encourage news editors and reporters to strive to present all sides of an issue.

When you enter into the field of broadcast journalism, and journalism as the profession has a lot of things to be considered for. News events should stand for a balance and equal form and is presented with proper accuracy and thus, impartiality and objectivity are being preserved. Journalist matters with the advocacy and respects the person being involved whether in any issues accounted for. Broadcast journalism and its program must have a standard quality and is convincing to their viewers. If a journalist applies these qualities, the impartiality and objectivity properly they are protected, reduced the pressure and strengthen its power and thus, interpret the news to arrive the truth, and nothing is hurt by being offended of how the news is presented.

Such studies have build theories as guiding principles. The normative theories of media such as social responsibility theory; authoritarian theory; soviet theory; libertarian theory; development media theory; democratic participant media theory; deals of how media ought to, or are expected to operate, or may be subject to extensive forms of legal or administrative control protection or regulation. Journalist determines what is right to do in their journalism. It is a normative science of conduct, with conduct considered primarily as “self-legislation” and “self-enforcement”. This provides the journalist certain basic principles or standards by which, he can judge actions to be right or wrong, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible. However, this theory is always been difficult to establish such norms due to the outside factors such as political, social, and the issues of money, that can directly affect the content and the true meaning of journalism. And for me also it deals with voluntary actions. What voluntary actions? Those which the journalist could have done differently with what the theories may state. Sometimes journalist, try to excuse their wrong actions by saying that this actions were personally chosen but are assigned to them- or otherwise forced on them- by editors or other superiors. Accusations that the news media are biased are frequently the result of strong political attitudinal or behavioral convictions. May of the same charges of bias, for example, are raised against the media from both extremes of the political spectrum.

In general, journalism is one of the most influential methods in convincing people. However, if every statement of facts is subject to further verification, rules and procedures in reporting may come into the existence of telling what is the absolute truth.


The news media are the central institutions in the process of intergroup communication in the country. Today, more information is disseminated faster and more accurately than ever before. The people have the right to know, freedom of information is their just heritage. One of the major purposes of journalism is to provide truthful information, comprehensive and intelligent account for the day’s events in a context which gives them meaning. A journalist should accurately communicate information between various conflicting groups within society and the circumstances surrounding the conflict. News media cannot perform their important function unless they have the public’s confidence.

Serious media must take responsibility for their actions. This responsibility is not only connected to the direct impact of their work, but also the long-term ramifications. Anyone who fails to confront the ideologies of revenge, death and hatred which resulted in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of people and the impoverishment and suffering of millions just a few years ago, giving the thin excuse that ethical positions have nothing to do with job, is not aware of the essence of the profession of journalism.

All publishers and broadcasters have the right to apply their own values to the events they have reported. They all have the right to say whether they stand for virtue or vice. Those who only sum up events with no attempt to explain their nature and import are behaving irresponsibly in a country where, once again, democracy is seriously imperiled.

Media people are human beings and each sees the world from his/her perspective. What journalist must do is, first of all, be honest about the lens through which they see the world; don’t insult the reader’s intelligence by claims of ambiguous impartiality. After that, they must struggle to present, if not all of the facts of the case, at least its major features. And finally, they must rely on facts and logical argument in their writings, not on name-calling and abuse.

Thus, in conclusion, if therefore matters little whether the news media have favored one particular point of view over another. What does matter is the effect of media practices and values on the public’s perception of the media’s credibility, on the public’s perception of reality, and the manner in which this practices and values might be change to facilitate more effective communication of the information, the public has the right to know. In some instances, an allegation of bias will be the result of duration from some abstract concept of truth; however, it will be the result of the media’s failure to tell its audience what it would like to hear.

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