The Media and Its Responsibilities

Topics: Ethics, Mass media, Journalism Pages: 6 (2499 words) Published: July 1, 2013
The Media and Its Responsibilities
Lucinda Ramon
SOC120: Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
Raymond Hudson
June 24, 2013

The Media and Its Responsibilities
Malcolm X captured it best when he stated, “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Media is defined as the use of any form of communication to reach and influence people such as radio, television, newspapers, movies, and magazines. The media has become an integral part of our society that has much psychological influence on the viewers. Relativism should be largely revered in the minds of all persons involved in the media business to better help them practice the deontology theory which follows the Golden Rule of treating others how you would want to be treated. It can be detrimental for the media to abuse its influence in such a manner that it results in an absence of morals in society. People turn to the news media to stay informed of the latest information on many issues. The SPJ Code of Ethics states that journalists should be accurate in their reporting, verify that a source is reliable, avoid oversimplifying, avoid imposing values on others, avoid stereotyping, and distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. It is unethical to omit certain details in the reporting with the intention to influence a thought or feeling to the viewer or reader. Over the course of time, lines have been blurred as to what is considered to be the public’s right to know versus what is considered as newsworthy. The people have the right to know what decisions our government is making, what accidents happened, all weather related information, local and national sports scores, local and national rallies or movements, space exploration information, education information, stories of success, and other information that would be useful to protect or look out for the best interest of the people. People look to the media to investigate and to hold accountable the truthfulness of any political figure regardless of what political party he or she is affiliated with. The media have severely taken advantage of adding a personal commentary to the degree of “bashing” people or groups they are opposed to, or better known as defamation or slander. During the latest 2012 election and on many television stations, it seemed as though journalists were doing the campaigning for President Obama. Rather than reporting facts and figures to the people to allow them to make their own decision, it felt as if the journalists were telling the people who to vote for. Unbiased reporting would have been to give each candidate an equal amount of news time. Included in the SPJ Code of Ethics contains a statement regarding unbiased political reporting. The problem biased reporting presents to the people is a brainwashing effect. Some media have even been accused of misinformation in an effort to be the first to report. Others have been accused of purposefully omitting certain key details in order to portray a certain scenario which in essence, is censorship. Two examples demonstrate this point, the first being a journalist that worked for CNN that was fired and The Today Show edit of a phone conversation of George Zimmerman. Amber Lyon was a journalist who worked for CNN but was fired because of her refusal to “report fake stories and delete unfriendly stories adverse to the Obama administration.” (Obama Hustle, 2012). In the example of George Zimmerman, the show on NBC called The Today Show edited a crucial piece of evidence to unfairly portray Mr. Zimmerman as racist towards Trayvon Martin. NBC issued an apology but the damage was already done. Under the 6th Amendment in the Constitution, American citizens have the right to a fair trial by an impartial jury. (Cornell, n.d.). This demonstrates how incorrect reporting can damage people or...

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