Monday, August 29, 2016

Social Media Not Interested in Ethical Journalism

Natalie Chatterton
In today’s society Journalism, the media and ethical reasoning do not have a great reputation when spoken together. We have seen this reputation tarnished through coverage of protests, government officials, and more recently the presidential election. This reputation is also due to issues like confirmation bias. In the assigned reading titled Moral Reasoning for Journalist by Steven Knowlton and Bill Reader, these authors state “the broad assumption seems to be that journalism ethics is a contradiction in term. Yet, research today suggests journalists today are more concerned about professional ethics than in any time in the past."

If research suggest journalist are concerned about ethics, why does this industry still stand with a negative reputation?

In today’s society, most individuals retrieve their news and information online, which is a great way to reach a max amount of audiences almost instantly for news outlets. So you can imagine the competitive spirit for news and media to be the first source with the information. This rat race causes issues among online users and credibility.

One recent incident we can review is the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, Florida.

When this tragic shooting occurred, immediately journalists and news outlets took to social media to document what they thought they knew, prioritizing prominence over accuracy. An article titled 10 Things The Media Got Wrong in Reporting Frenzy Over Orlando Shooter by Virgina Kruta explained that the posts online varied from what weapon the gunman used, the gunman’s motive, whether he had accomplices, to even tweeting the body count of the massacre. These posts and tweets were all inaccurate in certain ways at the time of the post, spotlighting the stigma between moral reasoning and journalism.

The Ethical issues among this case are clear, the journalist and news outlets were more interested in having the information first that they sacrificed moral reasoning, and credible information for their reputation in the middle of a tragic massacre.

The terrorist attack in Paris, France qualifies as another great example of how credible journalism on social media is put behind stories that will receive more publicity.

In an article by CNN titled Debunked: What Social Media Got Wrong about Paris Attacks by Kerry Chan-Laddaran and Justin Lear, the authors explain certain instances that projected completely false information.  For example, in the article Chan-Laddaran and Lear explained “A video titled ‘Muslims around the world celebrated the Islamic victory in Paris, France, ‘purportedly showed a crowd of young Pakistani men dancing and waving their nation's flag outside a London tube station.” When in fact this video of the men dancing was after Pakistan won a cricket match in 2009.

The media portrayed that instance to millions and millions of people on social media who were following these attacks. Having information like that misconstrued to the public is an ethical dilemma within this industry. This field is focusing more on the entertainment aspect of news and information and disregarding ethical and sincere moral reasoning to communicate important and, most significantly, accurate information to the general public.

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