Jle 2010 Intro Week 1


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The introductory lecture in a new series on journalism ethics for my postgrad course Journalism Law and Ethics at AUT University.
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Jle 2010 Intro Week 1

  1. 1. 2/28/2010 Journalism Law & Ethics Welcome Who we are What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Who we are Martin Hirst Allison Oosterman At AUT since 2007 Teaching at AUT since 15 years as a print & 1999. broadcast journalist in Many years as a Australia journalist in Auckland. Author: Taught at Otahuhu Journalism Ethics: College for two years Arguments & Cases Researching Blogger: journalism history. Ethical Martini 1
  2. 2. 2/28/2010 What are we doing? The principles of journalism ethics A discussion of ethical dilemmas Steps towards ethical decision-making and problem solving Enough media law to keep you out of jail An introduction to court reporting How will we do it? Lecture series Weekly two hour Ethics till Easter tutorials/seminars/ The legal issues workshops Court reporting – Arguments & weeks 8-10 Cases Reading Media Law Test in assignments week 12 Online debates/discussion Why are we doing it? News is about matters of public interest Journalists have a responsibility to society With freedom of the media comes accountability Frameworks for ethical thinking apply across most situations you will encounter 2
  3. 3. 2/28/2010 Journalism = public service A commitment to democratic ideals Giving a voice to communities even in the face of severe Checks and economic pressure, most balances journalists remain convinced that their news organizations are Accuracy, balance, performing well in keeping their readers, viewers and listeners fairness informed, which is a key aspect of public service (Beame, et.al. 2009) Reflection-in-action The daily work of a journalist is an ethical minefield: Each interview is a social interaction There is a need for informed The reflective journalistic practitioner needs to be able to consent in some cases test ideas against practical There is potential for harm experience, be engaged with the social context in which she or he There is an element of risk operates, and have the ability to There is an issue of respect reflect upon dilemmas and make crucial decisions in the midst of practice. (Richards 2005, p.155) The public interest Journalism holds a mirror up to society It must reflect the good and the bad The fourth estate model holds that journalism There can be no higher law in makes government journalism than to tell the truth and accountable to the to shame the devil - remain detached from the great people Walter Lippmann 3
  4. 4. 2/28/2010 What is the public interest? “The public interest is the only test that justifies departure from the highest standards of journalism, and includes: detecting or exposing crime or serious misdemeanour; detecting or exposing serious anti-social conduct; protecting public health or safety; preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of an individual; detecting or exposing hypocrisy, falsehoods or double standards of behaviour on the part of public figures or institutions or in public institutions.” (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, 2009) Frameworks for ethics A philosophical approach (meta-ethics) Thinking about doing the right thing The materialist approach The dialectic in journalism Political economy of ethics A situational approach What’s best under the circumstances An applied approach (normative ethics) Ethics codes, standards and rules Decision-making in action Philosophy & ethics Aristotle’s “golden mean” a middle ground between extremes what causes the least harm Virtue ethics there is good and we must always do it everyone should be virtuous Utilitarianism do what’s best for the most people a good end (outcome) justifies the means The social contract what is necessary to keep society functioning Rights-based ethics everyone has inalienable rights 4
  5. 5. 2/28/2010 Means, Ends & Consequences Situational ethics is a teleological, or consequential theory, in that it is concerned with the outcome or consequences of an action; the end, as opposed to an action being intrinsically wrong such as in deontological theories. Teleology – everything is designed for a purpose if the intrinsic purpose is good, the action is good Deontology – the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule or rules an action is governed by a duty to good or to a higher cause Consequentialism – the consequences of a particular action form the basis for moral judgment the ethics of an action are determined by its outcomes (un)Ethical Situations Joseph Fletcher (1905–1991) was an American professor who founded the Founded on Christian theory of situational ethics in the 1960s, and was a pioneer in the field of bioethics. Fletcher was a leading academic involved principles in the topics of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, eugenics, and cloning. Ordained as an Episcopal priest, he later The only rule is identified himself as an atheist. (Wikipedia) absolute, unconditional love SITUATIONAL ETHICS decision-making should be based Can also be used in a upon the circumstances of a particular situation, and not upon materialist context fixed Law In the case of situational ethics, the ends can justify the means. Applying ethical thinking Applies ethical thinking to practical problems In journalism this covers sources dubious methods Applied ethics is the branch of ethics which consists of daily actions the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues consequences such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. 5
  6. 6. 2/28/2010 Ethics and materialism Being determines consciousness Material relations exist between people and nature Social relations exist between people and people Social relations also exist between people, structures and institutions Ethical fault lines in Social relations contain unequal journalism are not just a distributions of power clash of ideas – freedom versus responsibility – Our emotional attitudes are but also a clash of social determined in the real world forces – ideas embodied in material things Ethical Dialectics An ongoing process of contradiction and resolution Ideas and ideals clash People,, institutions & structures are in tension Thesis-antithesis-synthesis The key contradiction in the Paradoxes abound in news media is between the journalism…and that is commodity form of news and the public interest good (Merrill) function of journalism (Hirst & Patching, 2007, p.6) The movement of the dialectic Ideas and social forces are A thesis is in constant motion challenged by its opposite – a moment of balance is Thesis (antinome or not stasis – action action antithesis) there is constant disequilibrium The struggle is momentarily Change is Synthesis Antithesis resolved, but caused by the Merrill talks of a then erupts actions of “triadic movement” again people – the dialectic in reacting to journalism Each new the world action action thesis around them (synthesis) is challenged in Institutions and turn structures Antithesis Synthesis contain action competing social forces 6
  7. 7. 2/28/2010 A dialectic in motion 1st Amendment News 2.0 C18th : French Paywalls and American Freedom of the Legislation revolutions press Advertising grows in C19th Newspaper owners seek Autocratic press power Blogs and social media Fourth Estate Web 2.0 C20th 1990s Watergate - Rathergate - Dissatisfaction 1972 Rise of 2004 with corporate corporate WMDs media media Citizen Industrial Start of 21st Journalism Century Journalism action Digital Revolution Drudge Report Responsible journalism & codes of ethics The ethico-legal paradox The law proscribes right and wrong behaviours Ethics is a guide to doing the right thing In some situations law and ethics contradict one another Ethico-legal paradox - sources Codes of ethics usually contain a clause relating to source-confidentiality Legally, a judge can potentially* require a reporter to name sources in court proceedings What should a journalist do? What would you do? * See Evidence Act for current legal situation regarding source confidentiality 7
  8. 8. 2/28/2010 A fault line in journalism ethics We need public interest journalism now, more than ever…BUT Global news media is in crisis A crisis of profitability and investment A crisis of trust and confidence Journalists are under pressure to work harder (more stories) and faster (deadlines) Less time for investigation, less time for ethics More chance of conflict and dilemma SDL – your responsibility BCS P/G Dip Hirst & Patching Hirst & Patching (2007) Ch. 1 (2007) Ch. 1 Join the AUT Beam, et.al. (2009) Online discussion Sign up for Values forum Exchange and learn how to use it Everyone: check the handbook, get a copy of the Burrows pamphlet, check AUT Online, make a note of assessments and class schedules 8