Information is what makes a story. But how does a journalist know how to utilize vital information while respecting an individual’s right to privacy? Or using a source whom wishes to remain anonymous? This week’s focus is ethics in journalism. There is much more to journalism than simply reporting the facts. Where are the facts coming from? Is the information used even factual to begin with? What is the difference between “on the record” and “off the record”? So many ethical standards must be met before a journalist begins to even type the story.
In the colonnial times, journalism was ruled by politics. The printers, there were no journalists, delivered the news and respected the wishes of those who funded them. It was not hard to tell which papers supported which political party.
As the use of newspapers grew, New Yorker, Benjamin Day founded The Sun, which sold for just a penny. The Penny Press Era was born, making the news accessible to everyone. During this time, many stories were not accurate, but the people found entertainment in them.More and more people depended on the news and did not care if the information was true, or objective.
In the early 20th century, reporters were used to gather and report information and with the rise of education, grew the use of ethics among journalists. To serve the community its news, one must do so objectively and accurately. This skill takes training and practice. I am happy to say that entertainment and sensational stories are not the way journalists today report. Although many stories may consist of these attributes, each news outlet stands by some sort of ethical standard to ensure:
- Use of Multimedia
Now, many Americans feel that journalists today do not abide by the aforementioned. Why? Conflicts of interest occur, censorship restricts the covering of certain types of stories and many broadcast outlets have no shame in incorporating personal biases. Not to mention the fact that with technology, almost anyone may publish “news”. As an aspiring journalist, it frustrates me to see and know this, but it happens. While the abuse of true journalism may occur today, it is not where it once was in American history, nor is it practiced the way many other countries do.
For example, Mexico is filled with so much violence and corruption. Corruption exists in its government and law enforcements, drug cartels are responsible for the violence and drug trafficking, yet no one is able to report about it. Newspaper establishments are burned down, or, are the target of drive-bys.
The practice of spreading the news truthfully and accurately is a skill that may never be mastered, but American journalism has proven itself to the public, to inform, educate and entertain while exercising the right to free speech and the freedom of the press.