Journalism Ethics Assignment

Journalism Ethics Assignment Words: 1310

Deception in an unavoidable part of journalism. Discuss. In today’s world of journalism, deception has become an issue. More and more ethical issues have begun to spring revolving around deception in journalism. Many cases prove other wise but many at times, deceptive methods in journalism are still unacceptable and it jeopardizes the accountability of this profession. The code of ethics serves as a guideline for all editors and journalists to be able to sustain accountability in their work. (Richards, I 2005) How does it justify a journalist’s work when he bridges the code of ethics just to be able to provide information?

As explained by Elliot and Culver (1992), there are 3 stages of deception when obtaining information. The first stage would begin with the investigation process. According to Elliot and Culver, at this stage, journalist themselves go undercover and go right into the scene to obtain information. The level of deception truly lies on how well the journalist can obtain information being someone he is not. At many times, information is not fully passed on to the journalist as the authority might not want information to be revealed to the public.

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The second stage of deception would be when journalist interrogates for information. The deceptive way of interrogation often happens during interview. Journalist might often find ways to get as much information out from the interviewee because information coming from someone who is directly or have been through with the case would serve as vital information. To sympathize the interviewee and to secretly taping the interview are 2 prominent examples shared by Elliot and Culver 1992. The last stage of deception would be deciding how the story is presented.

Journalist who chooses to publish a story based on how they want to will highly deceive the audience. What may seem right and important to the journalist may not be the same as what the public would think. By omitting information, the public would not be able to get the full picture. Without providing full and detailed information, audience might be misled by what they are provided and misinterpretation might occur. Journalistic methods that contain levels of deception can too be classified into different types. (Smith R.

F 2003) The first method is active deception. Active deception is highly involved with a set up of some sort and has investigation done towards it. The examples given by Smith R. F (2003) is the case of CBS’s 60 minutes, which rented office space and established a “medical clinic” to investigate how medical testing laboratories were giving clinics illegal kickbacks for sending test their way for processing. This type of deception will allow the journalist to be able to experience his investigation and report on the information that he was able to obtain first hand.

The second type of deception according to Smith R. F 2003 is passive deception. Passive deception is similar to Elliot and Culver’s journalist as investigators. Smith explains that in passive deception, journalist goes undercover to report on a certain case. They apply for a job and to report on a certain situation. A very prominent example would be the case of Food Lion. 2 producers from ABC worked undercover in 2 North Carolina supermarkets, lying on their resume to get their job in order to cover a case of unsanitary food handling by the 1100-store grocery chain. PBS. org 1997) Masquerading type of deception is too very similar with investigative journalism and passive deception. The only difference is that journalist pretend to be someone else to get access. They do not actually go through a working period to cover a story. Journalist of this type gain access into an organization or premises to be able to interview someone from the inside for information. Unconsciously, deception will sometimes find its way into the work of a journalist.

Many at times, the journalist would not even know that their doing is unethical and can be deceiving. Spence E 2004 shares when young reporters leave college and enter a workplace in which “deceptive form of reporting is a standard journalistic behaviour” then reliance on the virtues is useless. What a young journalist learnt back in college will slowly be subsided by the environment that he will be growing and slowly becoming a professional at his field of work. Is not how he wants things to be done, but it will subconsciously become of a habit to him.

After obtaining information and getting ready to write the story, journalist of a certain newsroom will have to look through his story and make sure necessary information are omitted. This is because journalist has a role in pleasing to whom is providing to the newsroom. In the mid-1980s Altschull (1984) argued that news has always been controlled by those who finance it. (McManus J. H 1997) In the journals by McManus is also stated that there are historical events showing that journalist bowing to the demands of their owners. Journalists have the responsibility to look after the reputation of their advertisers and owners.

If not, they face the risk of losing their job. Under ”accuracy,’ researchers grouped the many standards that deal with accurate reporting, from factual accuracy to careful verification of claims. (Ward S. J. A 2005) Many at times, journalists have to protect the identity of their source and is does not matter even though it will help solve a crime. It is to the source’s consent whether he will like to come forward. Doubts will be raised because a journalist has to convince its audience to believe his story without letting them know where he obtained his information.

A journal by Seijiro Tsukamoto of Nihon University explains that the press has the responsibility to provide “a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context which gives them meaning. ” (Tsukamoto S 2006) Isn’t that what a journalist’s job is all about? Yes, at the same time, a journalist has to take into consideration on whether his doing is ethical. Clark R from Poynter. org says that the codes of ethics are not enforced. Therefore, a journalist can express freely in his work and will often lead to accidental deception.

The AJA code for Australian journalists did research and came up with many conditions for journalist to be able to go to a certain extend of deception when comes to obtaining and publishing information. In this circumstance, journalists have to be more considerate when it comes to publishing a story and try to use legitimate methods when obtaining information.. A solid reason should be supporting a journalist’s actions because a journalist held responsibility to not only his own profession but the public as well.

It is part of a journalist job when it comes to preventing the public from being misled by some statements or actions of an individual or organization. (Sanders K 2003) If the reason behind a story published is to expose a famous person’s lifestyle, there is no reason why the story needs to be published. It does not benefit the public welfare. The publishing of an article takes into consideration of the public’s welfare and how much it will affect them as a community and not as an individual. Deception in journalism is an issue without a definite right answer to it.

Some people may plaster a definition or morality towards it but some may look upon it as serving the public interest. Journalists themselves need to know their responsibility and consider the consequences when it comes to publishing their story. To define priority based on a community will be more relevant than focusing the interest of an individual. Movements and influences are sustainable as a majority and if the journalist will want to make a difference, he will know what to publish in his article.

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