Journalism Ethics – A Case Study
It is always important for reporters to remember to incorporate the right ethical guidelines when writing a story, so that the news remains objective, informative and proper. However, some like to ignore ethics in order to make their news story more interesting to read and thus, gather a wider readership. Some of the many issues of journalism ethics include the limits of free speech, accuracy and bias, fairness and privacy, the use of graphic images, conflicts of interest, the representation of minorities, and the role of journalism (Ward 2008). In the beginning of the article, the author called the person responsible for the crime, a ‘sick monster’. Although everyone would agree on the truth of that statement, the journalist should have remained objective when writing the article. The journalist must keep their own opinions out of the article and allow the readers to form their own opinions on the basis of the facts which the journalist has presented (wein). There is the assumption of the possibility of unmistakably distinguishing between facts and opinions emerges clearly and accords precisely with the positivistic way of understanding the concept of objectivity, where everything that the journalist can and must write is that which he can directly observe and that which is factual (Wein). That is not what the writer of the article did, instead emotions became involved. The graphic description of how the child was raped would seem uncalled for, but it is difficult to set limit of details when faced with such a shocking crime. News writing is essentially about writing facts; it would be difficult for the writer to avoid upsetting the readers when the facts are essentially violent. Just as it is mentioned in the Tragedies and Journalists guide, they advise journalist to avoid unneeded gory details about the victims’ deaths. They can achieve this by asking themselves if the images are pertinent or will do unnecessary harm to...
References: * Ward, SJA 2008, ‘Global journalism ethics: widening the conceptual base,’ Global Media Journal, vol.1, no.1, pp. 137-149.
* Figdor, C 2010, ‘Objectivity in the news: finding a way forward,’ Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol.25, no. 1, pp. 19-33.
* Fishman, JM 2003, ‘New norms and emotions: picture of pain and metaphors of distress,’ Image Ethics in the Digital Age, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.
* Hight, J, Smyth, F 2003, Tragedies & Journalists a guide for more effective coverage, Dart Center for journalism and Trauma, viewed 27 April 2011, <www.dartcenter.org>.
* Newton, JH 2009, ‘Photojournalism ethics,’ The handbook of Mass Media Ethics, Routledge, New York.
* Wein, C 2006, ‘Defining objectivity within journalism,’ Department of Journalism, University of Southern Denmark, pp. 3-16.
* The Age 2007, ‘Girl, 8, found dead in sports bag,’ 21 September, viewed 25 April 2011, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/09/21/1189881724247.html>.
* The Star Online 2007, ‘Second DNA test proposed,’ 21 September, viewed 25 April 2011, <http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/9/21/nation/18953287&sec=nation>.
* Hamid, RA 2007, ‘Child found sexually assaulted and killed,’ The Star Online September 2007, viewed 25 April 2011, <http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/9/18/nation/18914532&sec=nation>.
* Naked Body of Sexually Assaulted Young Girl Found in Bag 2007, Malaysia Crime Watch, viewed 25 April 2011, <http://malaysiacrimewatch.lokety.com/naked-body-of-sexually-assaulted-young-girl-found-in-bag/>.
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