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Do Ethical Theories Help Journalists do Their Job?
Journalism & Communication
Pages 12 (3012 words)
Do ethical theories help journalists do their job? With ethical theory defined as an organised body of thought that explains what are the right/good and wrong/bad thoughts and practices (Williams 2006, p. 72) makes it not only very useful but necessary to journalists in doing their job, because it helps them discern the best course of action they should take in situations that put them in a dilemma…
101). In the conduct of their profession, journalists are practically confronted with various ethical dilemmas that it would be better for them to be armed with ethical theories than not. Furthermore, ethical theory becomes more important to journalists given the impact they can create to their readership (public opinion) and the society (public values) as a whole – which according to Iggers (1998, p. 15) makes journalism ethics unique – especially in this era of corporate journalism wherein the interest of capital often clashes with that of the public, putting in jeopardy journalism’s long-held principles as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists (1973): “Seek truth and report it; minimize harm; act independently; and be accountable” (Friend & Singer 2007, p. xix; Boeyink & Sandra 2010, p. 17; Black & Roberts 2011, p. 51). Hanlin (1992, p. 28) is perfectly understandable to say that “many critics might agree with the suggestion that any man rich enough to buy a newspaper should not be allowed to own one.” This statement simply illustrates how the situation and the organisation in which journalists perform their profession today make journalism ethically challenging. It is easy to criticise journalists in fulfilling their profession. ...
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