Every day there are ethical decisions that impact the hundreds or thousands of people who watch, read, listen, and/or click on a media source. The foundation for making the right decision starts with ethics classes in college. Students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism will use this blog to reflect on ethical questions in the media today.
Whether or not you believe in the bible and its ten
commandments is not relevant to this conversation, but what one of those
commandments states is. It is the one that says “Thou shall not lie” or “Thou
shall not bear false witness”. In life, we lie for a myriad of reasons; self
preservation, we believe what we are saying is the truth and some people are
even pathological liars. Whatever the reason people lie, most social protocols
state that it shall not be tolerated and needs to be met with repercussions.
Below are a picture and a quote from Edward R. Murrow, a
celebrated American journalist who first came to prominence doing radio news
broadcasts during WW II. He is generally associated with truth and integrity in
journalism. His quote is as applicable today as it was back then. According to the Radio Television Digital News Association website, they have been honoring “outstanding
achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since
1971”, so the precedent is there.
Courtesy of likesuccess.com
Courtesy of likesuccess.com
In a world that is predicated on being the best and doing
things first, there is all too often a sacrifice of truth. There needs to be
zero tolerance for lying in any shape or form, period, end of discussion,
right? I mean this is what we have been told our whole lives. When we were growing
up and you got caught lying, you got
in trouble. As an adult and you lie in court (and get caught), you are looking at possible jail time as a result.
In journalism, you print a retraction, amend the story and apologize for your
I find it absolutely absurd that a L.A. Times article entitled “A rule for onlinenews: Errors are inevitable; lack of transparency is not” says in part
that; the onus is on the readers to return to or check back in with an article
for any updates or corrections. I don’t ever remember reading in a newspaper
that I needed to keep reading it for the next few days in order to check for
errors in the previous editions. Any news stations ever ask to tune back in for
the next several days to make sure they didn’t make any mistakes in earlier
There should not be a different set of truth in journalism
values for digital and print style media. I suppose if you subscribe to the
theory of the “white lie” being
acceptable from time to time that may be alright for you. In an article by Eva Rykrsmith for quickbase.intuit.com there
are even up to seven different types of lies to choose from to suit your needs.
Of those seven types of lies, the only one that has any justifiable reasoning
behind it is to lie in error, by mistake.
Courtesy of quickbase.intuit.com
Mistakes are going to continue to happen as long as there
are people around to disseminate stories to an audience, but it is how they are
dealt with that makes the difference to people. Transparency is always going to
be the best policy in journalism because if you tell a lie once, all of your
truths will come into question later.