Ethics in the media
The unwritten law
Every day reporters and producers around the world face many different challenges. Their job requires focus and dedication and the level of stress is very similar to what doctors experience in the emergency room. In the media the fast decisions can’t affect people’s health directly but they could be very important and sometimes life changing. In a world where every day the information comes and goes fast, journalists have the responsibility to collect and to deliver accurate information. Easier said than done.
All of them follow the international standards but when it comes to ethics, the picture tends to get blurrier. A lot of TV channels, radio stations and newspapers sign an ethical code but the code that every single journalist carries within is the crucial guiding light to every single story. We can sign hundreds of documents with recommendations and rules how to cover delicate stories but if we don’t have our own moral principles, we can easily get swallowed by the biggest media monster called sensationalism. Turn on the TV and you can see number of news about suicides or pictures of children in risk. All of these sensitive human stories are exposed, often with unnecessary descriptiveness. Although these topics are very important, they should be presented carefully. The statistics show that the suicide cases shown on TV trigger a domino effect. It’s all about balance, a value that sometimes remains hidden behind the cravings for ratings. My simple rule is: don’t do anything that contradicts my principles and believes. As a reporter I meet a lot of people who have experienced loss or some sort of trauma. There is always a way to cover a story like this without strengthening someone’s pain.
You can’t do a documentary or write an article that contradicts your values or believes.
As a reporter I have covered different stories, so many that it’s hard to remember all of them. Even though the emotional impact on the journalists always lingers, we move from story to story too quickly. We pass through people’s lives, trauma and happiness as fast as we eat. This pace is defined by the speed of the news but this could be a double edge sword. Ethics fade when we forget the essential role of the media in favor of the ratings.
My personal ethical code governs not only my behavior but my professional decisions.