What Happened to Journalistic Ethics?

Written by Susan James

There are some basic principles that all journalists are expected to follow. According to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “a journalist is a person who writes for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or prepares copy for broadcast.” The key objective for any journalist is to gather facts, information, and news to present to the audience in an honest and balanced manner.

There are four main types of journalist/reporters. They may be investigative, feature, write reviews, and report the news. To excel in this industry the journalist must have a strong, ethical core, as well as integrity. Striving to ensure the free exchange of information which is accurate, fair, and thorough.

Information should be verified by more than one source before releasing to the public. A true journalist should never distort facts or content with personal opinions.—this also includes visual information. Their job is to serve the public with information and not partiality, keeping with the ethics of integrity, objectivity, profession competence, confidentiality, and professional behavior.

Unfortunately, many in the mainstream media have forgotten the responsibilities of their chosen career. These include reporting the facts: the who, what, when, where, and how. Opinions are not facts. According to Websters Dictionary, “opinions are a view, judgement or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular manner.” The opinions are to be formulated by the audience or commentators, not journalists.

The mainstream media consists of many large conglomerates, including newspapers and broadcast media. There are a few news organizations whose journalists take their careers with an ethical code and report the news genuinely. But it seems clear that the majority of journalists have taken on a bias. A recent example are the riots, the election, and mail-in ballots. There have been many pertinent questions which have gone unasked, unanswered, and unreported. It appears that a once competent and valued career has been corrupted.

Corruption may include doing business with government, accepting bribes, gifts, or kickbacks. It may also include accepting only information from one side and not from the other. Refusing to report both sides of an issue, event, or latest news is irresponsible and shows lack of integrity, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen from countless journalists in recent years.