Monday, September 26, 2016

Conflicts of Interest

Sarah Newsad

Picture this: a world without conflict. If there were no conflicts in the world, our jobs as journalists would be far more simple. We wouldn't have to worry about competing public relations firms or other newspapers, our world would be totally different. What if we took away all the media in the world and the perceptions that came with it? If all we relied on was each other, no social media, no TV, no newspapers? Would this make our day-to-day lives less conflicting?

Conflicts of Interest Tainting Credibility

As a journalist, once you gain credibility from your audience, you can be seen as the most trustworthy source to readers. Oftentimes, journalists are faced with difficult choices that can be controversial to society. In an article posted in 2012, Poynter pointed out a controversial case in which journalist violated their code of ethics. The 25 journalists were exercising their freedom of speech by signing off on the recall of Governor Scott Walker. Apparently, by doing so, the journalists violated six of 36 ethical principals of the ethical conduct in the company code of ethics. As soon as this happened, the journalists lost their credibility to the readers of the Gannett.

How can we prevent personal bias in journalism? This can be the hardest choice to make, but as journalists, we have an obligation to report on subjects we're not familiar with. Journalists should also try to avoid interviewing people they know on a personal level. Following some kind of ethics, values, and integrity throughout your reporting can help you keep your mind straight while reporting. Following these three crucial topics can help eliminate the personal bias within the field. 
Checkbook Journalism

Journalists and strategic communication professionals must be conscious of organizations and people trying to buy them. The idea of Checkbook Journalism is paying large amounts of money for exclusive insights and interviews. Checkbook Journalism can be the cause of some great stories that become uncovered, but it is a slippery slope to climb. 

In the previous article it demonstrates the many negative outcomes it can have. According the the SPJ codes, money can corrupt anything it touches. Eventually, your sources could want more money, or they could come out and say you paid them. As journalists, paying for the story could potentially destroy everything and corrupt journalism as a whole.

It is vital for journalists to report unbiased information to the public. A key part of a journalist's responsibility is being ethical when it comes to reporting. Trust can be so hard to earn, but only takes one lie to completely destroy a person's reputation. Following SPJ's Code of Ethics or making your own, as a journalist, you must stay true to who you are and what you believe in. We have duty to society to report the honest, hard truth, but doing it the right way is possibly the most difficult thing to obtain. At the end of the day, there will always be conflict of interest and media will always play a huge role in today's society. It is up to us, as a journalist, to uphold the most honorable reporting we can.

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