Journalism Ethics and Standards
What is this profession called journalism? What is a journalist supposed to do? What is his role?
The answers to these questions will define a lot of related issues or these answers will state the ethics and standards of journalism.
A journalist finds and presents information for the society. He writes about what he observes and forwards it to the people in a consumable way. He needs to put across what he knows in a manner in which the society will like it.
‘Writes for society what he observes and writes what the society consumes.’
Sounds so simple – just an agent or a go between for delivering information, news and views BUT this is exactly where comes responsibility.
A journalist is not just a channel carrying content but has a major role in handling the content. People depend on him for presenting accurate and well researched news and views. The authenticity and credibility is the responsibility of the journalist. Yes along with this the writing has to please the society and be acceptable to them also.
Also he must deliver news that serves a common purpose and fulfils most people’s interests as well. Any presentation or writing of a journalist should never inflict or hit any part or group of our society regarding its belief, ideals, religion and rituals. In doing this another important aspect to be kept in mind is any kind of personal bias and unfairness should be kept out of the reporting or informing. Even where his views are required he has to ensure that he is correct, fair and balanced in his presentation.
The writing of journalist inspires in keeping ‘social harmony’ and can also achieve social development at the same time. They can influence the thinking and mindset of people and even cause a major shift in the perspective the society holds. So there is the necessity for fairness and balance in the views written or presented. Maturity in stating facts without causing an upheaval or upsetting any section of people is the requirement for being a good and ethical journalist.
There is a legal responsibility that the journalist also has. He has to operate within the framework of the law and not break any rules or regulations. Beyond this he has to ensure that in doing his duty or following his led or search he is not hindering the work of the other agencies like the courts, police and other investigating agencies. He cannot give out sensitive information or let out ‘secrets’ all in the name of news or information. Yes this happens in today’s world. In the race for popularity of the channel or media or the personality each one tries to give exclusive news or information and at times crosses the thin line between correct and incorrect behaviour or ethical and unethical practices.
In the attempt to being liked by the public or gaining eyeballs very often the responsibility is set aside and other considerations take over. So for journalists’ professionalism means a very high standard of integrity and commitment which at times could be in conflict with commercial and goals and requirements but then that’s what ethics and standards are about.