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Journalism Ethics


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The public doesn't trust the media. This presentation explains why and offers tips for being an ethical journalist.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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Journalism Ethics

  1. 1. By Prof. Mark Grabowski
  2. 2. Overview – Public thinks media is unethical – Reasons why – Sins to always avoid – Other issues: grey areas – Guidelines for handling ethics – Sample scenarios – Final advice
  3. 3. Lack of trust in media • A recent study found that 62 percent of Americans say they don’t trust the media. • Fifty-nine percent think newspapers are more concerned about making profits than serving the public interest. • And 58 percent don’t think journalists care about complaints of inaccuracies.
  4. 4. Media sensationalizes • 80% believe "journalists chase sensational stories because they think it will sell papers, not because they think it is important news. ” • 85% believes that "newspapers frequently over-dramatize some news stories just to sell more papers." • 80% believe sensational stories receive lots of news coverage simply because they are exciting, not because they are important.
  5. 5. Big Scandals • Plagiarism • Fabrication • Irresponsible reporting
  6. 6. But most journalists aren’t evil • They don’t plagiarize, fabricate. • They want to get facts right. • But they may be understaffed or overworked. • Deadline pressures can affect accuracy and judgment. • And hairy situations may be unavoidable … being a journalist often involves ethical dilemmas: newsworthiness v. privacy
  7. 7. Guidelines • To help deal with these dilemmas, many media outlets follow the code of ethics written by the Society of Professional Journalists. It’s organized around four principles…
  8. 8. SPJ Code of Ethics 1. Seek truth and report it: Journalists should be honest, fair, objective and accurate. 2. Minimize harm: Realize that you’re covering human beings. Be respectful, tasteful and sensitive. Note that it says “minimize” harm. You may not be able to completely avoid it. If you’re doing investigative reporting, for example, your story may expose corruption and cause someone to get fired. But, in the end, the greater good will be served by your reporting. 3. Act independently: Don’t accept gifts or favors. Your only obligation is to serve the public’s interest. This is why it’s so important to avoid conflicts of interests, as we discussed during the first week of class. 4. Be accountable: Correct mistakes and expose unethical practices by journalists. The New Republic’s staff was criticized for their role in the Glass scandal because they ignored known problems with Glass until they no longer could.
  9. 9. Test your knowledge Source: Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower