Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Bribery in Journalism Says About Journalism Today

Will Ashton

Whatever job position you are in, it is a safe bet to say that bribery is never an acceptable option. So, the fact that journalists across the globe are beginning to accept offers from various sources left and right is a little maddening, if also a little sickening. Has this become a big enough problem that journalism is in serious danger?

The Sun Doesn't Shine
The most recent, and well-published, example of journalism bribery would, of course, have to be the recent revolution that The Sun editorial director, Graham Dudman, and Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box Turnbull have been charged with making illegal payments to public officials. The fact that journalists at this level were able to fall under such deceit is a huge wake-up call in terms of how far up journalism bribery can go and how, sometimes, even professional publications can fall for dirty tricks. If journalism publications like Daily Mirror and The Sun were able to be bribed, then even smaller publications are at an greater risk of being corrupted. In turn, the public is even more likely to be lied to than they are now, which will make their continually decreasing trust in journalists fall even lower to than it is now.

When Bribery Attacks Around the World
Back in September 2010, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) considered bribery and extortion to be one of the most serious issues of journalism today, particularly in developing countries. They were recently proven right, at least in one country, as it was just revealed at the end of last month that reporters in Zimbabwe have been seriously manipulated by political forces. Since 2000 political inference, polarization, corruption and various other challenges have caused journalism in this developing country to lose their honest reporting. In the report entitled "The State of Journalism Ethics in Zimbabwe," it reveals that journalism ethics have been completely destroyed in this country. 

Personally I feel that, in many ways, this example is even worse than the terrible things The Sun and Daily Mirror did, because it does not show a solution in sight. While the problem is being pointed out, it is not being addressed, and politicians are corrupting the public in ways that are horribly unethical. The country is losing their ability to properly give freedom of speech and proper human rights to the public. This news is not likely to be something that is surprising as much as it is a reminder of how much ethics remain important in today's world of journalism.

Where Do We Go From Here?
The biggest problem with bribery in journalism is that it loses the two things that people depend on journalists for the most: truth and integrity. Without these, journalists are simply giant advertisers. In a time when journalism is in a constant state of change, the public is starting to lose trust more and more with their media sources. When journalists are able to stop accepting money from faulty sources and begin seeing the error in their ways, only then will this no longer be a problem, and journalism can continue to be the great, motivating source it is supposed to be.

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