Journalism In Practice – Ethics And Dilemmas

Journalism is about researching and reporting of events, issues and trends. Truthful and responsible journalism is the foundation of a free and independent media, which, in turn, is a pillar of strength in a democratic society. Journalism is not just limited to reporting. Instead, it includes the twin dimensions of aiding opinion making and analyzing news from varied viewpoints to keep the public well-informed.
A Crucial Intermediary
The nature and scope of journalism have always been a topic of debate. It is the vital link between the public and the policy makers. It not only informs the public about the decisions of the policy makers but also helps them understand complex matters. It also works the other way round, taking the issues and policy content directly from the public to the government.
As A Career Option
Those, who want to make a career in this field, need to do a course in mass communication. Therein you would invariably learn the skills of reporting, interpretation, writing, and editing. You will also learn how to use different systems and tools of mass communication. Obviously, you are required to read a number of textbooks for this. If you buy the fresh prints for all, you will end up spending a considerable sum. Used books are a relatively inexpensive option in this regard.
Ethics And Standards
Considering the importance of this field, it is crucial for journalists to maintain professional ethics and standards. The guiding principles that they shall follow in this regard are:
1. Truthfulness in reporting
2. Unbiased opinion
3. Independence
4. Comprehensive and proportional reporting
5. Respect for the rights of citizens
These are a part of the studies and you can find these in both old and new textbooks. How the rules regarding them have changed over a period of time will make an interesting reading.
Issues And Dilemmas
Despite all the established rules of conduct and practice, journalism has its own set of issues and dilemmas. Some of these pertain to the following:
1. Biased Reporting And Coverage: It is allegedly biased in covering political, business, cultural and other domains.
2. Sensationalism Of News And Issues: Responsible reporting often gives way to sensationalism of certain items.
3. Selective Reporting: This implies that a particular event or news has been covered partially on purpose.
4. Breaking Into The Privacy Of People: To sell their stories and news, journalists follow public figures and invade their privacy.
5. Handling Of Issues Pertaining To National Security: Whether or not a particular matter is really important from national security angle is a dilemma that many reporters face.
6. Concealing The Identity Of Source Of Information: While going about their duties, especially in investigative journalism, the reporters invariably develop their own sources of information. Whether or not to disclose these sources to the government is a problem.
7. Public Decency And Morality: People of different cultures have different acceptance levels for the reporting of nudity, sex, etc. A journalist finds it difficult to decide where to draw a line on such issues.
The way these issues in journalism are handled reflects on the maturity of the media and the nation.

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