Thesis: Ethics in Journalism

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Ethics in Journalism: Case Study

Looking at the headlines of the various publications on the news stands today, and it quickly becomes clear that the place where journalism is coming from today is less one reflective of the ethics of journalism as is depicted in the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, and more reflective of a tabloidism, for which there are really no rules for. This only emphasizes the responsibility of journalists today to keep the professional Code of Ethics in their focus, because at some point in history, the professionalism associated with responsible and ethical reporting will be what distinguishes journalists from the amateurs. The journalism that is reflective of the professional code of ethics will be used to support and clarify historical analysis. The sensational tabloidism - which rides on the coattails of the ethics of professional journalism - will be used to demonstrate, like the fall of Rome, the deterioration of the values of the modern society.

Even in journalistic reporting that is being reported as non-tabloid, news and events has been subject to allegations of "staging," as occurred in July, 2006, when the following photo appeared on the cover of the prominent publication U.S. News & World Report.

The above photograph, with the blackened fires burning in the background, was taken at the height of the 2006 attacks between Lebanon and Israel. This particular image was circulated on the news wires by the Reuters, Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) with stories saying that the blackened fire was an Israeli bomb. However, the photograph and the story came under fire itself when upon close inspection readers realized that it was not a bomb in the background, but that a hillside covered in tires that was afire. How the hillside came to be covered in old tires and how it came to be on fire remains unknown. The number of "staged" photographs coming out of Lebanon that were intended to evoke anti-Israel sentiments, prompted the creation of a web site, by sources unknown, where people can post photographs of "staging."

These kinds of photographs are accompanied by stories reporting on the circumstances and events surrounding the photographs. It casts a shadow of suspicion over a profession that looked to as a source of what is really going on in the world around us. If we cannot rely upon the news journalists to report truthfully and accurately, without resorting to the staging and sensationalism that is indicative of tabloidism; then as a society we must be concerned, and we must hold those news entities and persons that perpetrate fraud in journalism accountable, and even prevent them from being employed as news reporters or journalists.

The Case Study

The case study that is the focus of this paper is interesting from a journalistic perspective. It involves a public official, elected to office by a constituency that relies upon his representations to them be truthfully and well informed on matters for which he was elected to his public office. The problem with casting a shadow of doubt over the elected official's character is that it will tarnish his image in the eyes of his constituency. The Senator denies the allegations that he has drugged certain female members of his staff, and molested them too. The Senator alleges that the reporter is conducting a smear campaign that could ruin his life.

One of the former employees, Mabel Mosby, authorizes the use of her name for the story. Four others substantiate her claim with their own stories that are similar to Mosby's claim. The four women do sign affidavits that they will testify if the paper is sued by the Senator for libel.

When contacted to respond to the allegations before the story goes to press, which is done in accordance with the code of journalistic ethics, but unfortunately the Senator becomes angry and refuses to comment. The question here is whether or not the journalist should go with the facts of the story when the Senator has not commented, and his comments could very well change the direction of the story.

Philip Seib (1994), in his book, Campaigns and Conscience: The Ethics of Political Journalism, reminds us:

Issues. They're the intellectual heart of politics. They're what the voters need to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Ethics in Journalism.  (2009, March 3).  Retrieved November 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-journalism-case-study-looking/5060677

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"Ethics in Journalism."  3 March 2009.  Web.  20 November 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-journalism-case-study-looking/5060677>.

Chicago Format

"Ethics in Journalism."  Essaytown.com.  March 3, 2009.  Accessed November 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-journalism-case-study-looking/5060677.