Everyone has been instilled with different moral values. As for Journalist, each of them will have different thoughts about ethics based on what they have seen, experienced or taught.
According to the Nicholas Tomalin, a good journalist would not just have a literary ability, but they must be a bit cunning and have a certain level of plausible manner to attract readership attention and make them feel the article written is reliable and credible. Thus, the public will trust on the journalism sources in the future. However, this does not mean that the journalist should not have an ethics in reporting news, they still have to follow the Journalism codes of ethics, to avoid unnecessary trouble.
In the end, the decision will yet be made by the journalist themselves, based on the values they have in their own, predictable consequences and so on. The Journalism Codes of Ethics act as a guide and references for journalists, to maintain the specific quality and standard of the press.Journalism is news for what has happened recently and is still taking place, or had happened but is newly discovered by a timely fact and the value of the report.
According to ( Williams, c1901-21 ), journalism was not the child of the printing press. However, diplomats had found it necessary to have a constant supply of news, before the circular letters sent round after Agincourt and other medieval battles. Ethics is defined as a code of conduct which governs human behaviour; it is something human should follow and live by, to differentiate what is right and what is wrong. Ethics is also called as moral philosophy, is to ask serious and difficult questions about how human should live their lives. ( Karen Sanders pg 14 ) The earliest study records on ethics are in Europe; it happens during the Greek civilization. Hence, journalism ethics is a set of code which can be referred by the journalism when they faced some situation while reporting news or discovery the truth.
This set of code is a code of conduct which helps the journalist to differentiate what to do and what not to do while they are on their duty. According to the last Nicholas Tomalin, be a successful journalist, they should be a rat-like cunning. This plausible manner allows a journalist to produce news articles which attract eyeballs and public interest. Journalists who are professional should not directly show their cunning behaviour in the article when they write it; they should indirectly address the situation whether in a more sarcastic manner or insert a few exaggeration factors. As an example, the quite recent news of a Korean celebrity involved in an accident, from the headline “Did Taeyeon received special treatment after car crash” of the news article from The Korean Times, it shows that the journalist, Ko Dong-Hwan who wrote this article was being cunning by having a sarcastic headline rather than a neutral headline, such as “Taeyeon involved in a car crash in Seoul”, in order to attracts reader attention about how the celebrity was treated by the Emergency Team after the car crash rather than bringing his empathy towards the accident or towards the victims involve.However, it is acceptable to have a plausible manner and a rat-like cunning, but as a journalist, they still have codes of conduct act as a “moral reference” for them to refer. To be seen as a professional journalist, their first responsibility of being a journalist is to seek the truth and report it. A journalist should be honest and dare to collect, report and interpret information that they have because the responsibility of a journalist is to gather information, investigate the incident, interpret messages report and disseminate to the people.
However, the journalist always has hard times to compile fragmented facts and get them verified before reporting them, to prevent unnecessary anxiety. In this era, for a journalist to publish a piece of news, it requires them to make their judgement neutrally, without being bias to any sides and the journalist should have an ability to find sources with firsthand knowledge. Hence, as a successful journalist, they should have many connections with people from a various sector, especially people from the media industry, such as Public Relation Officer, to get fresh sources from the area or industry.
Reporting thus becomes a subjective, not objective process. (The ethical journalist pg 90) Then, to show humanity to the public as a journalist, minimize harm during reporting is one of the essential tasks that all the journalist should have, because “minimizing harm is connected to the values of humanness — values like fairness, compassion, empathy, kindness, respect.” (The ethical journalist pg 91) Hence, as a journalist, they should be mindful of what are they reporting and need to think in various perspectives before publishing a piece of news. A journalist must have good taste in choosing suitable photographs to be attached to the news article; the photo should not be too violent, obscene and contain an offensive or sensitive image. A journalist must also be careful when they identify the victims and juvenile suspects of a sex crime. When the journalist is covering news regarding tragedy or grief, they should be susceptible by putting themselves in the shoe of the victim’s families and use acceptable photographs to be attached to the news article. A journalist can be whether working in a private sector media company or government based media company, but as an individual, a journalist should act independently without taking sides on any organizations or parties. From the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code: “Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than public’s right to know.
” ( the ethical journalist pg94) A journalist should not have biases towards any sides; they should provide neutral news article to maintain their professionalism. A journalist is allowed to voice out their own opinion in their news article, but they should state “In my personal opinion” when they are giving opinion towards any parties. People are very easy to be lure by incentives, so as a journalist too. Journalist often goes outdoor for news coverage; sometimes they might face people offering some gifts, tokens, travel opportunities and services because they were expecting when they bribe the journalist, they will have a positive and pleasant coverage from the media. Thus, as a responsible and professional journalist, they should not accept these offers, because it is unethical.Besides that, the late Nicholas Tomalin quoted, to be a journalist, they are required to have little literary ability. As an example, citizen journalist, they are not well trained in writing, but people still read and rely on their sources, because people believe that citizen journalists are the people who witness at the incident scene or they are the person who experienced the situation, so they carry the new first-hand source. However, citizen journalist sometimes might publish inaccurate reports, because they can only report what they have witnessed.
The journalist cannot get the verified valid reason caused to the incident from the authorities since they have no rights to know it beforehand. Although citizen journalists are not always right, the professional journalists have to work hand in hand with them to get some useful sources for their news article, especially visual sources, such as video and image. Citizen journalist often creates anxiety when they published wrong information, but they also make life and work more accessible for those professional journalists in the media industry.However, to have a clear direction, journalists should refer to some of the theory and know the importance of their duty or consequences when making a decision. For a journalist who cares about the impact of reporting the news more than the process of interpreting or disseminating the story, they will be referred as a journalist who is practising Teleology theory.
Teleology theory carries the meaning of consequences ethics, which means that the outcome is important than the process. This theory was first started by Jeremy Bentham which is also known as Utilitarianism. Teleology theories the fundamental idea is that the consequences of actions are the key to assessing whether they are ethical. ( Karen Sanders pg 19 ) In teleology theory, when the topic is a public interest, an unethical action such as lying and deception is acceptable, as long as in the end, the people receive a positive outcome.Besides that, a journalist that have high duty responsibility they usually will be known as Kantianism, which these group of journalists are practising the Deontology theory. Immanuel Kant was the founder of this theory. Immanuel Kant has a different perspective from Bentham on the theory of Utilitarianism.
Kant believes that adhering to a set of mandatory rules is an essential of morality towards ordinary people. He thinks that morality has nothing to do with happiness, it is a moral law of duty. He concluded that moral action is done from a sense of duty, it is not following inclinations or doing what a person wants. As an example, a case study which involves Deontology Theory is the financial scandal of National Kidney Foundation (NKF) in 2005. On April 19, 2004, an article regarding the “Golden Tap” in the National Kidney Foundation Singapore ( NKF ) was published by a journalist from the Straits Times named Susan Long. The article was about misusing of the charity fund by the CEO of NKF, T.T. Durai when a gold-plated tap, panelled glass shower and an expensive toilet bowl had been found installed in his office.
However, a defamation suit was brought up between NKF and Singapore Press Holding ( SPH ) on July 12, 2005. The financial scandal then broke in July 2005 after T.T. Durai sued NKF for the newspaper article which was lacking details and transparency. But on the second day of trial, T.
T. Durai dropped the suit against SPH and admitted his involvement in the scandal. He then informed that he had removed all the extravagant bathroom accessories.
Hence, from this case study, it shows that Susan Long has been responsible for her duty as a journalist by spreading the truth to the public because she thought that the people of Singapore have the rights to know what is happening behind this organization. She has been practising Deontology theory in this case by reporting the truth without caring the consequences that she might face. Thus, this case study could conclude that Susan Long is a deontologist like Kant because both of them are the believer in duties.