Journalism Ethics


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Journalism Ethics

  1. 1. Journalism Ethics:A Sliding Scale? Tom Abate, Humboldt State University, September 2007 <ul><li>Discuss current norms and a real ethical case </li></ul><ul><li>Review American journalism and ethics </li></ul><ul><li>See how new media may change things </li></ul><ul><li>Implications for journalism programs </li></ul>
  2. 2. Let's Quickly Define Terms <ul><li>Ethics: principles of right conduct applied to the conduct of a person or members of a profession </li></ul><ul><li>Journalism: is the collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news in print and broadcast media </li></ul>
  3. 3. Prevailing Ethical Norm: Objectivity <ul><li>Society for Professional Journalists: fair and honest reporting; publish or broadcast with compassion; high standards of personal and company behavior </li></ul><ul><li>New York Times: 53 pages of specific do's and don'ts on everything from political activity to speaking fees to relationships with sources, all to avoid any “whiff of bias” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Two Cases That Blew Up: Why? <ul><li>Jayson Blair </li></ul><ul><li>Judith Miller </li></ul>
  5. 5. Pre-Revolutionary Era: Tolerance <ul><li>Benjamin Franklin's Apology for Printers: “The Business of Printing has chiefly to do with Men's Opinions; most things that are printed tend to promote some or oppose others . . . hence arises the peculiar Unhappiness of that Business . . .” </li></ul>
  6. 6. This Revolution Was Not Televised <ul><li>Thomas Paine from The American Crisis, “ These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sarcasm, Irreverence The Norm <ul><li>The short story, Journalism in Tennessee, starts with an editor who's feuding with a rival: “While he was writing the first word . . . he knew he was concocting a sentence that was saturated with infamy and reeking with falsehood.” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Muckrakers & Yellow Journalism <ul><li>Name this character </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Whens & Whys of Objectivity <ul><li>The emergence of broadcast media from the 1920s on . . . </li></ul><ul><li>Reaction to excesses of the newspaper barons . . . </li></ul><ul><li>Shrinking numbers of papers and corporate control of media . . . </li></ul>
  10. 10. With Great Power (and Profits) Come Great Responsibility
  11. 11. Separating Myth From Reality: Ethics Shaped By Media Space/Time Continuum <ul><li> </li></ul>
  12. 12. Ethical Review <ul><li>We have seen that objectivity is today's norm </li></ul><ul><li>But the standards were different in the past </li></ul><ul><li>That implies they could change again </li></ul><ul><li>Raising two questions: how will Internet media affect the business and ethics of journalism? </li></ul><ul><li>And how should all of this affect the teaching of journalism? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Journalism Ethics In Flux: Old Media Weak, New Media Immature <ul><li>Bloggers expose error in Dan Rather report on Bush National Guard service </li></ul><ul><li>Education Dept. pays commentator Armstrong Williams $240K to promote Bush's NCLB policy </li></ul>
  14. 14. Our Pressing Ethical Dilemma: As Old Media Decline How Do J-Teachers Adapt? <ul><li>Is a school paper the best OJT experience? </li></ul><ul><li>What about blogs, podcasts, etc? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Ethical Questions For Journalism Programs <ul><li>How to teach old and new media skills? </li></ul><ul><li>Audio/visual training, experience needed? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we bring campus & community into “citizen journalism” </li></ul><ul><li>Can academic journalism be an agent of change? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Closing Thoughts <ul><li>Preserve the best parts of newspaper training and ethics – accuracy, fairness and honesty </li></ul><ul><li>Change journalism instruction to be visual; create metaphors of mass instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the local, whether that is geographic, psychographic, professional or virtual </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace citizen journalism, media literacy, civic engagement, the public agenda </li></ul>