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Media Ethics: Subdivision of Applied Ethics and Standards of Media

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Topics: Ethics, Journalism
Media ethics
Media ethics is the subdivision of applied ethics dealing with the specific ethical principles and standards of media, including broadcast media, film, theatre, the arts, print media and the internet. The field covers many varied and highly controversial topics, ranging from war journalism to Benetton advertising.
Ethics of journalism
The ethics of journalism is one of the most well-defined branches of media ethics, primarily because it is frequently taught in schools of journalism. Journalistic ethics tends to dominate media ethics, sometimes almost to the exclusion of other areas.Topics covered by journalism ethics include:
• News manipulation. News can manipulate and be manipulated. Governments and corporations may attempt to manipulate news media; governments, for example, by censorship, and corporations by share ownership. The methods of manipulation are subtle and many. Manipulation may be voluntary or involuntary. Those being manipulated may not be aware of this
• Truth. Truth may conflict with many other values.
• Public interest. Revelation of military secrets and other sensitive government information may be contrary to the public interest, even if it is true. However, public interest is not a term which is easy to define.
• Privacy. Salacious details of the lives of public figures is a central content element in many media. Publication is not necessarily justified simply because the information is true. Privacy is also a right, and one which conflicts with free speech. See: paparazzi.
• Fantasy. Fantasy is an element of entertainment, which is a legitimate goal of media content. Journalism may mix fantasy and truth, with resulting ethical dilemmas. See: National Enquirer, Jayson Blair scandal, Adnan Hajj photographs controversy.
• Taste. Photo journalists who cover war and disasters confront situations which may shock the sensitivities of their audiences. For example, human remains are rarely screened. The ethical issue is how far should one risk shocking an audience's sensitivities in order to correctly and fully report the truth. See photojournalism.
• • Conflict with the law. Journalistic ethics may conflict with the law over issues such as the protection of confidential news sources. There is also the question of the extent to which it is ethically acceptable to break the law in order to obtain news. For example, undercover reporters may be engaging in deception, trespass and similar torts and crimes. See undercover journalism,
Violation of media ethics
Today, our lives seem incomplete without mass media.. After 2001, with the introduction of Cable TV System in Pakistan, the Electronic media in Pakistan has revolutionized with hundreds of channels emerging in no time.
Media has laws and ethics as huge masses of all ages watch it, and the content might not be suitable for them. Therefore, code of ethics is set to follow and provide healthy content to the viewers. Ethics are set of guidelines to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong. They are also to ensure that no one takes advantage of his position or profession in an unethical way.
The common codes of media ethics are:
1) Responsibility 2) Freedom of Press 3) Independence 4) Sincerity, Truthfulness and Accuracy 5) Impartiality 6) Fair play 7) Decency.
Unfortunately, ethics of media are being violated by media itself. When Sarfaraz Shah was murdered and Rangers personnel gunned down Karachi citizen in Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park, footage of the whole scenario was broadcast on nearly every news channel again and again. It was presented as a film without any concern of media ethics.
In the race of popularity and intension to break news first, media does not manage to deliver the quality of information to the audience with facts and figures and with social or moral responsibility. This, however, results into anarchy and the false perception of public towards certain social issues.
It is often observed that media exaggerate the government's negative points. Positive moves are not highlighted or sometimes even positive initiatives are turned into negative, which also creates hopelessness among people.
People use media with a hope to acquire accurate information and to divert their attentions in order to get relaxed, but unfortunately today's media present news into dramatized form just to gain more viewership and hefty advertisement, which in turn increases the tension among the masses. On the other hand, movies and dramas also present such characters and stunts, which make children to imitate it, and can be dangerous for them.
It is the responsibility of media to respect the privacy, not to create rifts in the social structure, avoid the sensationalism, not to play with the emotions of the public and stay away from plagiarism, slander and libel.
The information and content provided by media must be fair and there must be no personal favors or media benefits in favoring someone.

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