Monday, September 26, 2016

Conflict of interest: Bad money drives out good.

Neelam Khan

"Avoiding real, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest builds the trust of clients, employers, and the publics"

The guidelines for public relations in media states that a member must act in the best interest of their client or employer, subordinating one's personal interests. We have to keep our personal and professional business separate, disclose conflicts of interest to our effected clients and organizations, and to make sure a conflict doesn't exist. This is to earn the trust and respect of clients, as well as keeping credibility within the journalism community and also the public. As a journalist, maintaining credibility is vital to your career. If you are caught paying up a source for information or having personal ties in your own story that could elevate your status or make you money, that is unethical. We are supposed to be objective and uninvolved. Being involved is what muddies the water of the fair truth.

So why do reporters pay for information if it will affect their credibility?

The truth: reporters have been bribing since journalism has been alive. It's not illegal. With pressure coming from all sides - family, friends, competitors, and employers - bribing is only a part of life for some. "It’s clear that this culture of bribing public officials for information comes directly from the culture of paying non-officials for information." Rupert Murdoch created his own approach. He made it an advantage against his competitors by openly admitting to being unethical and unfollowing of the rules that apply in journalism.

What differentiates the US from the UK is that tabloids are the dominant source of news gathering. The Sun has more than ten times the circulation than The Guardian. Therefore, in some cases, a conflict of interest can be the underlying truth between what is journalism, and what is trying to look like journalism but isn't. That shows us something about our society. Maybe people read what they want to read. Maybe the truth is boring for some people, and sensationalism is taking the forefront. I sometimes feel like it's hard to define the line between journalism and real journalism from being surrounded by sites that give "news" and "facts" and not knowing what is true or not. 

No comments:

Post a Comment