To combat the pressures that threatened freedom of the press, this theory was first introduced in 1947 and was recommended by the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press. It stated that the media should serve the public, and in order to do so, should remain free of government interference. It defined guidelines that the media should follow in order to fulfill its obligation of serving the public.
Ethics and the Media
The Social Responsibility Theory claimed that the media could be self-regulating by adhering to the following precepts: • Media has obligations to fulfill to a democratic society in order to preserve freedom. • Media should be self-regulated.
• Media should have high standards for professionalism and objectivity, as well as truth and accuracy. • Media should reflect the diversity of the cultures they represent. • The public has a right to expect professional performance. (The proponents of this theory had strong faith in the public’s ability to determine right and wrong, and take action to preserve the public good when necessary.) The social responsibility does not only fall upon the reporters and producers of media. The responsibility also falls to the consumers to become media literate and maintain high, yet reasonable expectations of the media. In theory, if these things happen, there will be no need for government intervention. The Social Responsibility Theory was set forth as the ideal way for the media to conduct business. Over the years since its introduction, this theory has met with much criticism as well as support. It has become the standard for United States media practices. It has also set the standards for much of the currently accepted media ethics. [pic]
[pic]Since the Hutchins Commission produced its famous theory, the United States has developed better educated journalists, seen a reduction in news sensationalism and enjoyed more accuracy in reporting. Many journalists are now also advocates for the public and for social issues and reform, getting their messages out through the media.
Read more at Suite101: What is the Social Responsibility Theory?: Written by the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press http://press-freedom.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_is_the_social_responsibility_theory#ixzz0hYd9u8dH
Social responsibility is an ethical or ideological theory that an entity whether it is a government, corporation, organization or individual has a responsibility to society at large. This responsibility can be "negative", meaning there is exemption from blame or liability, or it can be "positive," meaning there is a responsibility to act beneficently (proactive stance). Businesses can use ethical decision making to secure their businesses by making decisions that allow for government agencies to minimize their involvement with the corporation. (Kaliski, 2001) For instance if a company is proactive and follows the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for emissions on dangerous pollutants and even goes an extra step to get involved in the community and address those concerns that the public might have; they would be less likely to have the EPA investigate them for environmental concerns. “A significant element of current thinking about privacy, however, stresses "self-regulation" rather than market or government mechanisms for protecting personal information” (Swire , 1997) Most rules and regulations are formed due to public outcry, if there is not outcry there often will be limited regulation. Critics argue that Corporate social responsibility (CSR) distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses; others argue that it is nothing more than superficial window-dressing; others argue that it is an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations (Carpenter, Bauer, & Erdogan, 2009).