Ethics: the driving force between moral and reality. What seem to be easy concepts at first are not so much once one dives into them and tries to make sense of them. For journalists, we struggle with these concepts in the workplace, out in the field, and even in our own work. Ethics are what we “should” do. We struggle with the ethics of doing what is right when it comes to being assigned to a story and the boss tells us to do something that goes beyond what our own ethics call for. We don’t want to lose a job over it but the question becomes then how would one handle his/herself if the person when through with it?
There is the struggle mentioned in Kovach and Rosenstiel of making stories relevant and engaging without fabricating and sensationalizing the information. Unfortunately, this has become so-called “normal” practice amongst the media today. Where is the ethics in that? Kovach and Rosenstiel mention that “if one feeds people trivia and entertainment, one withers the appetite and expectations of some people for anything else.” This destroys the media’s authority to deliver serious news and drives audience members away. So, where do ethics come in? It comes in when journalists stick to what they have researched and know what it the truth of the story. Merrill mentions the dialectic struggle journalists have when it comes to telling the story and to separate the emotional from the rational so that the audience gets the truth that the journalist wants them to see and hear. In hindsight, journalists should tell the story but keep the news comprehensive in proportion to what is being told.
Why does this sound so easy but it isn’t? One thing that journalists have to keep in mind is for one to continue to be vigilant. Being vigilant means sticking to one’s guns and knows that it is truth that the audience wants, not fluff or trivial stuff. One wants to have a great story but ethically needs to recognize what is right in writing the story and what is wrong in terms of sensationalizing. There are too many examples of that type of media such as "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" that do the sensationalizing for us. Journalists don’t want to struggle and fall into the category of infotainment because that not what they do or work for. They work for their audience and getting the truth they need. The struggle with ethics isn’t going to go away but having a better understanding of what is right and wrong journalistically might make things a little easier.