Monday, April 4, 2011

Codifying Ethics

Kim Amedro


I initially picked up on the difference in tone between the SPJ Code of Ethics and ASNE’s Statement of Principles. I particularly like Article I to illustrate the very watchdog-esque, aggressive people’s voice tone in ASNE. “ The American press was made free not just to inform or just to serve as a forum of debate but also to bring independent scrutiny to bear on the forces of power in society, including the conduct of official power at all levels of government.” It is very intuitive to the political times of 1975 in which they were revised. It’s very weary of outside sources and influences, much like the other codes, but more paranoid in a sense. I do agree with much of these ideals—the ones portrayed in movies…I have to admit, Blood Diamonds further sold me on this idea of journalism.
Is it so bad to be a tad preachy though? I may side more with Jay Black’s opinion that when you set a higher bar, more people are willing to try and incorporate the standards as best they can rather than merely trying to avoid something.

The most interesting concept for me, was to think of exactly how to manifest the code. I think being open to rewrite the code every few years is a smart idea so long as it’s a very involved process—not done only by the elite members but all the depts. at all levels. People run into so many different situations, it would be amazing and homage to the idea of journalism to keep very open forums within the organization itself. Personally I feel that is lacking a bit with all the emails and track edits passed through space.

Current Talks

SPJ’s magazine Quill posed the question this Monday, “should SPJ update the Code of Ethics?” Steve Buttry, who finds this code in need of a revision, hones in on the fourth principle that the SPJ code seems to lack but the others go into great detail on, which is ironic as it is PR and advertising: acting independently. With blogs and pendants with various talk shows, XM radio stations, etc., to what extent do people actual believe anyone in media is objective? I furthermore wonder what exactly the public prefers? Do they simply want the enws and clearly identified side commentary labeled and limited? Of course I believe as journalists we must present both sides of the argument and I think Buttry dismisses the fact that they emphasize it’s the public’s ultimate decision on how they interpret the facts. However, I do like his specifications on how to go about presenting this ideal “truth.”

I think it's very important for each industry, profession and furthermore individual agency, paper, magazine, etc. to draft their own code. Sure these other codes seem very similar--don't accept outside gifts or advocate or blatantly disregard/distort facts/pictures/clientele information, but each provides a new verbalization of a code specific to their work environment.

For a detailed code I checked out what the NY Times offered. They go into detail on approaching public speaking, which is extremely important as it acknowledges the trend of reporters making the news and becoming household names. Again they show the importance of addressing each department in their publication: travel and sports to entertainment and arts.

Interesting Situation:
I was trying to find a good example or video of a recent ethical dilemma. Instead I found an interesting article in the Washington Post about the journalists in Libya right now. They are being bought off, without really agreeing to the terms. This sort of topic was hinted on in each code.

Kim Amedro

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