As a journalist, I’ve educated myself to work ethically and to preserve and deliver the facts (substantiated by no one other than myself) on any particular issue directly to the public. That will never change no matter who I work for. Watching social media flood with opinions and arguments on ISIS and how the media is inciting fear into Australian’s disturbs me. So before the uninformed rants ensue, I have some suggestions from the other side of the fence.
The first thing the general public should do is reach outside the mainstream spectrum and research all news media projections. There is a multitude of news out there that isn’t just breakfast television or the late night wrap on the radio. There’s also this thing called the internet (potentially your best friend in this), where most people don’t even utilise advanced searching and even more extremely, the deep web.
After you’ve opened your mind to the idea of news as a whole entity, decide whether it’s the media that are systematically ‘brainwashing’ the public on this topic or whether, in fact, it’s the government. You need to remember that journalists have to substantiate their research from an authoritative source in order have an ethically sound story, and in the case of the conflict happening in the Islamic State, that’s the government. After that, decide where you continue to get your news from…
As regular people trying to make a living, there are journalists who conform to heavyweight media corporations and their ‘policies’ which can be backed by wealthy enterprises or political campaigns. But as a consumer of news, they can be avoided or considered contextually if you’ve done the research.
The foundation of study as a journalist in Australia is based on the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Journalists’ Codes of Ethics. So before you go slandering that journalist who wrote that story which rubbed you the wrong way or challenged your opinions, consider more thoroughly who that information was attributed to, your opinions on their motives, and evidence you can find to support that. Don’t get me wrong, not all journo’s do the right thing, but we don’t all do the wrong thing either.
The code states:
Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
Respect for the rights of others
Journalists will educate themselves about ethics and apply the following standards:
1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10. Do not plagiarise.
11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Food for thought…