Ethics in Journalism: What’s the Standard?|Taylor Lowery

When we think of the word “ethics,” we usually attribute this to a person’s moral compass and behaviors. Each individual has their own set of values and principles which have molded them into the person they’ve become. Just as such, we have ethics in Journalism. Getting the facts of a story right is one of the most crucial aspects of it. According to ethicaljournalism.org, the 5 core principles of Journalism are: Truth and Accuracy, Independence, Fairness and Impartiality, Humanity, and Accountability.  

In today’s day and age, anyone can claim to be a journalist, so, where do we draw the line? 

 With our ever expanding world of technology, any average joe can create “news” and upload it to a social media platform. Twitter and Facebook have both become an acceptable media form to gather information from, and we have it right at our fingertips. You can record a video on your smart phone and upload it to YouTube, and you’ve just created live coverage of a news event. No longer do we have to wait for a story to be covered in the news or highlighted in our local newspaper the following day. This is called citizen journalism, and the only real difference between that and traditional journalism is, ethics.  

Can citizen journalism be trusted? 

While we have countless stories and information on the happenings around us, citizen journalism also poses concerns for some. It can be a monotonous task to track down where the information came from, and be 100% certain that it can be verified. On the contrary though, many of these reporters are in dangerous countries, risking their lives for stories and footage we may not have otherwise had access to. Syria is known to be one of the most dangerous and deadly countries to journalists. In a 2016 WIRED article, it was reported that 103 reporters, filmmakers and editors have been confirmed dead since the start of the civil war in 2011. Regardless, citizen journalism isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to understand how this fits into the world of news and what we should expect, ethically. 

 Is the original code of ethics evolving? 

 It seems as time moves on and we become a more technologically advanced world, so too, the ethics of journalism are changing. The core values are still very much there, but we have to do our research, and then do our research again, to confirm our stories are complete. While citizen journalists and traditional journalists may each acquire different ethical principles, we still seek the same entity; the truth. I can’t think of a more exciting (and difficult) time to be pursuing journalism, and the ethical background with which each human being is equipped with, makes for more interesting, diverse news stories.  

 Ethical Journalism Network, 2018. The 5 Principles of Ethical Journalism. Retrieved from https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/who-we-are/5-principles-of-journalism 

Baraniuk, 2016. Citizen journalism is playing a crucial role in Aleppo- but it comes at a cost. Retrieved from http://www.wired.co.uk/article/syrian-citizen-journalists