A question of ethics

A question of ethics

Posted July 12th, 2011 by debritz

The escalating phone-hacking scandal in the UK has made one thing clear: it's time for journalists and other media professionals everywhere to talk about ethics openly and frankly, and for all media organisations to formulate (if they haven't already done so) and clearly state their policies to staff.

While I know that most journalists are honest and decent people, I can also confidently say that some people I have worked with over the years have never even considered the moral or ethical implications of what they do on a daily basis. (See my previous post for more on that.)

Sure, they can mostly hold their head high and say, for example, that they've never stolen a child's medical records, but have they ever, for example, given undue prominence to a story on the basis of a gift or free service they have received? Did stories make it into the paper, or on air or online, simply because somebody offered a low-level bribe? Did something not make the cut because of a favour offered or owed?

These are extremely important questions that all journalists have to address - especially in jurisdictions where politicians are looking to change the law to make it harder for legitimate journalism to take place. If we want to avoid draconian privacy legislation that will shield the real wrongdoers, then we must get our house in order.