Sunday, September 4, 2016

Make Journalism Great Again

Nathan Lors

Following a code of ethics was, is, and always will be critical to any journalist's success. A code of ethics helps build trust in any audience. If your audience questions the truthfulness of your content, it has little value to them or the rest of society.

Serving The Public

Most codes of ethics are similar and mostly simple, but their value to any journalist is anything but. It strives to be a constitution of sorts to hold content creators accountable. Just as our founding fathers fought for a fair and transparent government with the constitution, a code of ethics serves the same purpose for an organization that creates media content. The biggest similarity for these two documents is that they both fight for democracy in this country.

These principles remind an organization's journalists of their obligation to always place the public's interests first. 

In today's world, where trust for journalists is very low in the general public's opinion, it is more important than ever to follow a code of ethics strictly. Any reader with internet access can fact check an article and ruin the reputation of a journalist, advertiser, or public relations professional. Once your name is tainted as an untrustworthy source, it is very difficult to earn back your credibility.

Journalists face a metaphorical fork in the road every time they produce a piece of content. They have the power to influence the general public for good or bad. Being able to manipulate the audience’s opinion on any topic is a lot of responsibility for a single person to have. A code of ethics keeps writers and editors in line so that the ethical decision is made more often, most of the time a gut feeling is not enough.

Keeping The Promise

It is easy to say you will follow a code of ethics when it is your first week on the job as a new journalist. The real challenge is maintaining that same high standard of ethical decision making over a long career in the field.

It seems as though pressures from organizations to keep churning out content that readers want at a fast pace and the false promise of getting ahead from being dishonest are two of the biggest motivators for journalists to act unethically in today's world.

As the picture below depicts, moral dilemmas are nothing new in the world of Journalism.


Strengthening the Field of Journalism

The end goal of all of these codes of ethics is to strengthen the field of Journalism. If all journalists followed these ethical guidelines, the credibility of Journalists would not be in question like it is now.

Since the community are the ones that read our content, they are the ones that we must strive to always be truthful with to earn their trust and respect. Most of the general public does not treat journalists as real professionals that work hard everyday to make the most transparent content possible. This is a fact that we want to change as the up and coming news writers in the world.

A code of ethics does not solve every problem that goes along with being a journalist, but it is a good start to what we want to do in the future, to better ourselves, the profession as a whole, and ultimately enlighten the public.

Ethics in Journalism are a constantly evolving field, with new forms of media and standards to uphold changing all the time. It is a journalist's responsibility to democracy to stay current and always seek to improve.

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