Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Evolution of Ethics and Transcending Truth

Olivia Usitalo

In their book titled “New Guiding Principles for a New Era of Journalism," Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel describe the evolving world of moral and ethical decision making as apart of the media and news. With journalism entering a “digital age” where the Internet, social media and other computer-mediated communications have become the prominent forms of content curation and reporting, some typical ethical codes must be rearranged to better fit with society’s viewpoints today.

Even though certain codes are being rearranged, some are concretely permanent. McBride/Rosenstiel say that “journalists... cannot give up dedication to truth and accuracy on behalf of the public, but they must find new ways to fulfill that commitment” (1).

The authors speak about the differential forms of journalism in society, and how it can pose great risks to society as a whole, affecting the individual and the economical. Because of new technology, journalism is no longer a select field of reporters and writers. Journalism has expanded into the public; anyone can comment and report something newsworthy.

With the news being so much more open, reliable journalism is left vulnerable to corruption. McBride/Rosenstiel write that “without [reliable journalism] democracy fails... the powerful will become less accountable... the public will be more at risk” (2). They then list the new set of “Guiding Principles of Journalists” as follows:
  1. Seek truth and report it as fully as possible
  2. Be transparent 
  3. Engage community as an end, rather than as a means.

Although truth still stands as the main priority and ultimate goal, many become confused with the definition of what “truth” actually entails. According to McBride/Rosenstiel, “where we once argued for independence, we now advocate transparency... the test is in how journalism is produced, not necessarily who produces it” (4).

Being a “transparent journalist” will drive those in the media to be as honest as they could be; it calls for “intellectual honesty and integrity in every step of their work” (5). A public that recognizes the transparent honesty of journalists will emulate those ethical values in their own use of journalism- whether it be through traditional methods or social media.
As with all change, the media must consistently improve itself in order to stay relevant in a constantly evolving society. Technology is only going continue to integrate itself in the world, and it is up to journalists to adopt a flexible code of ethics that can transcend that change.

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