The public’s interest comes first
‘Journalists must examine their own motives and be honest, and respect the rights and humanity of those they write about.’—Jempson Mike, Media Ethics Lecturer at The University of Lincoln, West England.
I beg to not differ from Jempson. Of course in journalism motives, honesty and valuing humanity and circumstances surrounding publication should be considered.
Good quality journalists are those that are able to value opportunity cost in terms of what they are bound to loose, if they come out to be those impossible journalists who report nothing but the truth. Which truth anyway?
Before you call media houses a wide spread of rumours, here is why reporters should avoid reporting bitter truths, all the time.
If you say journalists tell lies or half truths? Better get the ideal that drives journalists into compromising, before judging them.
Journalism is an endangered profession. Would you tell the truth at a cost of your life? I bet no one would throw away their life and life time achievements just because of a 500 word story. In any case, would you practice the profession when you die?
There are sensitive issues that are better kept unreported. It is common worldwide for investigative journalists to get imprisoned, fired from work or even killed, just for revealing shameful truths.
Compromising saves media ethics at times. I guess media ethics classes emphasize balanced reporting, while actually referring to compromising a little.
Reasonable phrases and quoting anonymous sources help a reporter to drive their message home without blackmailing or giving cheap praises to anyone.
And of course with issues concerning international or national interest and security, journalists should choose patriotism over truth. For example, America choosing to expose pictures of a dead brain-spilled Osama Bin Laden could stir up worse terrorism.
Why air out truths that will provoke disaster and havoc? Journalism should be a way to bring peace, truth, profession, bla bla bla and shouldn’t be used as a shield towards inciting violence.
Inciting violence reminds me of a scenario in Uganda where a Christian slaughtered a pig while dressed in Moslem attire. If a journalist twisted such news, would it be in public interest if the photo incited Moslems to react.
The setting as well matters. Will a truthful report bring good outcomes or futile results? Many journalists have become victims of death and atrocities, when they tell the truth.
In 2002, Daniel Pearl an American journalist and South Asia Bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal was beheaded in Pakistan, for reporting the truth.
ABC News reporter Bill Stewart was also shot in the head, in 1979, as he persuaded the truth about a Civil war in Nicaragua. So, if the truth only ends with danger, why should it be even considered?
Truthfully, most journalists lie because of circumstances surrounding them, which is fine. Even Abraham the grandfather of all believers in the bible, lied that Sarah (wife) was his sister when he sensed danger.
The only solution would be examining the causes of inappropriate reporting, not the reporting itself. If stories are based on sentiments and selfishness, writers should be punished, BUT if half-truth is in public interest or saved masses, then such journalists should be rewarded.
And I insist, life is priority, profession comes later. You can do without profession but not life.