Ethics in journalism: a relic of the past or the basis for the future?

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Alla Nadezhkina 

Profession of journalist gives the right to make public court on behalf of the society covering various phenomenon and events. During his work journalist affects the interests of many people and the results of his work have an impact on information’s consumers. Thus questions of professional ethics that would regulate the activity of journalists should come first.


So in what ethical behavior of the modern journalist should be shown? To whom or to what journalist should be ethical? What codes of morality he must comply?  Is journalism ethical profession in general or it does not provide for compliance any rules? Are there an answers to all these questions? I’m afraid not.

Almost in all of journalistic codes the truthfulness and objectivity are the list of professional virtues. In  “International principles of journalistic ethics”, adopted on the 4th consultative meeting of international and regional journalists’ organizations, held in 1983 in Paris and Prague,  is written: “The first task of the journalist is to ensure people truthful and accurate information through an honest reflection of objective reality.”

However, nowadays cases when a journalist intentionally distorts the truth are constant. Unfortunately, this is no longer regarded as some kind of moral crime. Such phenomena as the juggling of the facts, invited articles, propaganda have become everyday tools of modern journalism. There is particularly acute problem of the competence of journalists, their professional level and basic moral principles. Because of the development of online journalism and blogosphere where anyone can publish his views to a wide range of readers the accuracy and truthfulness of the information could not be verified. Moreover it seems to me the editorial policy of some media in advance provides lack of objectivity. As a result the essence of journalism has been violated. Instead of having to educate and develop people there is a reverse effect when the information consumer doesn’t trust the media anymore.

Why is this happening? In my opinion this is the result of consumer society formation which affected the media sector as well and which in the pursuit for volume of produced content negatively affects on its quality. Can we fix this situation? On a global scale is unlikely. On the scale of a single journalist – completely. We just need to start with ourselves.