Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ethical Journalists

Journalists today deal with various kinds of ethical problems. These problems occur in the media, and the most common struggle that journalists face is writing stories that are comprehensive to all the readers of news. Nowadays, it is apparent that less people are watching the news. This is due to the fact that the media presents too much entertainment or news stories that are too complicated for many minorities to understand.

Like Kovach and Rosenstiel mentions in The Elements of Journalism, today, stories in news are too long, sophisticated, and often require college degrees to follow. The stories in the news have become longer and more abundant, which makes it appear as if it is aimed toward only a few segments of the population. Often times the media leaves out certain communities, which tend to create big problems and ethical issues. This leads to the problem of audiences being poorly informed, which also causes them to make poor decisions about contemporary trends that directly affect their needs (Kovach and Rosenstiel P. 168).

I think that this idea of complicated news, which only a few can comprehend, is one of the many reasons why citizens find the news so difficult to understand. Those minorities of people who find news difficult to follow are not interested in reading these news stories and are ultimately not being informed. It is a journalists’ role to continually find ways to serve the diverse communities and let the majority know what they are trying to communicate to the public.

I believe that although there are many ways to inform the whole community, it is the sole responsibility of the journalist to come up with good ways to make the citizens come together, help them understand, and become engaged with the news stories they read. When this is achieved, I believe the public will be more willing to listen to them and ultimately appreciate the information they draw from those stories.

As Kovach and Rosenstiel mentions, journalism is storytelling with a purpose. And the main purpose is providing citizens with the information they need to educate themselves about living in this world. This tends to be challenging to journalists and, as a result, common ethical problems occur. It is important to provide information at the same time in a way that ensures that people will be willing to listen. So storytelling with a purpose is about finding the information that people need in their lives in order for them to live, as well as making these stories meaningful, relevant, and engaging to the citizens at the same time (Kovach Rosenstiel P. 149).

To sum up, there are many challenges in performing this good journalism especially concerning ethical issues. To solve those challenges, when writing or reporting for a story, we should always be thinking about writing interesting and detailed context stories, which inform the public about the truthful facts together. Like Merrill mentions, we can ethically assume that the media will be honest, fair, balanced and truthful in their efforts (Merrill, P. 94). These types of stories will hopefully engage the citizens and overcome some of the challenges the media faces in balancing those that are presented.

1 comment:

  1. This blog embraces a strong social responsibility ethics, and it considers the audience broadly, which fits with the codes of ethics we've discussed and an outcome-based (utilitarian) ethical framework.

    It begs the question of what happens when journalists do great work, and the public seemingly is uninterested. Merrill in his book points out that trying to simplify complex stories so that they are attractive and understandable by the mass audience runs the risk of dumbing down the content to the point that it makes simple solutions and views appear rational and feasible, when they are in fact unrealistic. I think this is a common problem in media, and certainly is a big issue for the partisan media and talking heads, who cling to simple labels and define the world through them (e.g., conservative or liberal, socialized medicine, etc).

    Maybe we should let the uninformed be uninformed, and worry about creating news for those people who really care about it and want to understand. By dumbing down the news to package it for the mass audience, the news media risk alienating their core audiences who are avid consumers of news. We also risk making the complex appear simple, which probably does more damage to the democracy than help it.