Thursday, September 29, 2016

Conflict of Interests Faced with Expectations

Natalie Chatterton

Journalists have expectations when they take on the role of communicating news stories, opinion pieces, and pictures they post to the public. Their community relies on these journalists to be knowledgeable, truthful, and clear of conflicts of interest. In the reading titled, A Journalist Breaks the Golden Rule by Howard Rosenberg he says, “Many of us in the media are potentially compromised these days, if only because we work for conglomerates whose sprawling interests cut across our news beats.”  Rosenberg clearly states this is an ethical issue between reporters and their media conflicts which bias their writing among multiple other journalistic industries. 

Rosenberg talks about how an Oregon journalist Anna Song exemplified conflict of interest when she was covering a story about two young girls who went missing and then were later found murdered.  The conflict of interest started when Song began to get to know the families involved while she was reporting on the story, and during the memorial she gave a eulogy about the two girls and the families involved. 

Now, looking at this story without having any journalistic knowledge you might think how sweet and considerate it was of Song to do this for the sake of the girls and their families. But, in the eyes of a journalism professional Song crossed a line, “violating a basic tenet of journalism by participating in a story she was supposed to be observing as a reporter, as an outsider,” Rosenberg states.  I think it is important to mention Song became an activist on the topic and not a reporter and in the eyes of Rosenberg if you can cross one ethical line it is that much easier to cross another.

Anna Song is not the only example of reporters and journalist faced with conflicts of interests.

Ethan Bronner is the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times and it was reported that his son enlisted in the Israeli military. After review it was said that this report was true, in ironically enough, a New York Times article by Clark Hoyt titled, Too close To Home

This event was looked at as an unacceptable conflict of interest for Bronner and the Times due to the fact that the New York Times company policy on ethics in journalism states, “that the activities of a journalist's family member may constitute a conflict of interest. 

Hoyt explains that, “Bronner occupies one of journalism’s hottest seats, covering the intractable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. As the top correspondent for America’s most influential newspaper, everything he writes is examined microscopically for signs of bias.” I believe there is a biased on this topic and in the defense of the New York Times and the position Bronner holds he should be asked to stop reporting on this topic.

Earlier I spoke about media conflicts and the bias among multiple journalistic industries. One of the industries I was referring to was the music industry and music critics. In the reading titled Love Those Perks! / Critics Sound Off on the Ethics of Music Journalism Derk Richardson writes, “The music business has long been plagued with corruption”  explaining that music journalists count on the free goods and perks that come with the territory setting up music journalists for plenty conflicts of interest among this industry.  

There is a word used among the music industry called payola which can be described as “the practice of bribing someone to use their influence or position to promote a particular product or interest” which is relevant to the issues among music critics. In an article titled, Payola: Influencing the Charts Heather McDonald writes, “Payola, which is sometimes also referred to as "pay for play,” is as old as commercial radio, but it really took off in earnest with the advent of rock music and profitable rock music radio” this a tactic that has been used for many years now in this industry and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Conflict of interest happens every day to journalists. It is important to remember your journalistic duty and promote unbiased stories to the public for the greater good of your community.

No comments:

Post a Comment