Monday, April 4, 2011

Media Codes of Ethics: How Journalists Saved Facea

By Brian Cox

Code of Ethics as a Public Relations Stint:
In the early half of the 20th century, the journalism community had one colossal flaw, majority of the public saw the profession as corrupt and ‘low life.’ The extravagant and often sensationalized work of the 1920’s could be held responsible for this image, but regardless of its origin, journalists had to find a way to create faith in the discipline. A solution to this was to create a code of ethics for professionals to follow. If there was a piece of paper that the journalists could use as a guideline, the public could no longer find fault it their practices. A journalism code of ethics is much like every other PR activity that other professions do. Yes, it is extremely meaningful and should be followed, but to be a journalist means you follow these guidelines closely.

In 2010, British Petroleum launched a massive ad campaign trying to save face after the devastating Gulf Coast oil spill. Now, making a connection between toxic oil and corrupt journalists is a far reach, but when there are things compromising your business success, you have to find ways to reassure the public that you are trustworthy and there for the people.

The Journalism Code of Ethics: in our newsrooms and on our minds:

The many different Codes of Ethics in the journalism community runs in line with our moral codes. All journalists should know how to write in an ethical manor. We do not need a piece of paper to tell us if we are breaking any rules, it should be an instant and unconscious response. Although it should be etched in all of our minds, we still see a copy of one or more of the codes posted to a bulletin board in every newsroom. Much like the calendar we all purchase at the beginning of the year, we glance over at it occasionally, but we never walk over and read it. The reason for this is that we already know what it says without reading it. We are well aware that we are on a crusade to find the truth. Reporting with anything but the truth goes against our profession, not just our ethical stance. Accountability is a lesson we are taught as small children. Our parents punish us for our actions and over time, we learn that we are responsible for those actions. When work is published, a journalist knows that responsibility for the outcomes is on the shoulders of the journalist. A journalism code of ethics is not purposeless for a journalist, we just have to understand that we already have a grasp on its information and we can utilize our own moral codes when making important ethical decisions.

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