Ethics in journalism : a reader on their perception in the Third World. - PART. 3
A broken business model that leaves journalists insufficiently funded to do good work. 2 . Literally every reporter I know is a liberal Democrat, with the elites, who have done a generally poor job reflecting the diversity of the country. I used quotes in a story—without attribution—that I think the sources. Unless you also weigh the evidence, you're not a journalist, you're a stenographer. That is certainly a problem, and we see plenty of examples of it. . As Rizza from Tacolban City used to advise the house back in the good old days Why was it not immediately stated that the poor drowned boy was not a. Call it what you will: brand journalism, corporate journalism, corporate media. For them, news is just another form of content that can be used to attract an audience Mainstream media outlets might see a story on a corporate blog and then write the mainstream media does a poor job (or no job at all) of covering them.
He stated in an internal e-mail message that reporters should not "artificially hold George W. Bush and John Kerry 'equally' accountable" to the public interest, and that complaints from Bush supporters were an attempt to "get away with And those who hate us can take solace in the fact that they aren't subsidizing Bill's bombast; we payers of the BBC license fee don't enjoy that peace of mind.
Fox News is, after all, a private channel and our presenters are quite open about where they stand on particular stories.
People watch us because they know what they are getting. The Beeb's British Broadcasting Corporation BBC institutionalized leftism would be easier to tolerate if the corporation was a little more honest about it".
This is especially apparent when a news organization is reporting a story with some relevancy to the news organization itself or to its ownership individuals or conglomerate. Often this disclosure is mandated by the laws or regulations pertaining to stocks and securities. Commentators on news stories involving stocks are often required to disclose any ownership interest in those corporations or in its competitors.
In rare cases, a news organization may dismiss or reassign staff members who appear biased. This approach was used in the Killian documents affair and after Peter Arnett 's interview with the Iraqi press.
This approach is presumed to have been employed in the case of Dan Rather over a story that he ran on 60 Minutes in the month prior to the election that attempted to impugn the military record of George W. Finally, some countries have laws enforcing balance in state-owned media. These approaches identify differences in news coverage, which potentially resulted from media bias, by analyzing the text and meta data, such as author and publishing date.
For instance, NewsCube is a news aggregator that extracts key phrases that describe a topic differently. Other approaches make use of text- and meta-data, e. As a result, each cell contains only articles that have been published in one country and that report on another country.
Particularly in international news topics, matrix-based news aggregation helps to reveal differences in media coverage between the involved countries. The expense of early printing equipment restricted media production to a limited number of people.
Historians have found that publishers often served the interests of powerful social groups. This coincided with the rise of journalism as a powerful social force. Even today, though, the most conscientiously objective journalists cannot avoid accusations of bias.
Although a process of media deregulation has placed the majority of the western broadcast media in private hands, there still exists a strong government presence, or even monopoly, in the broadcast media of many countries across the globe. At the same time, the concentration of media ownership in private hands, and frequently amongst a comparatively small number of individuals, has also led to accusations of media bias.
There are many examples of accusations of bias being used as a political tool, sometimes resulting in government censorship. In the United StatesinCongress passed the Alien and Sedition Actswhich prohibited newspapers from publishing "false, scandalous, or malicious writing" against the government, including any public opposition to any law or presidential act.
This act was in effect until Inthe newspaper New Nation was closed by the government for three months for publishing anti- apartheid propaganda. Other newspapers were not closed, but were extensively censored. Science writer Martin Gardner has accused the entertainment media of anti-science bias. He claims that television programs such as The X-Files promote superstition.
Ethnicitybeing largely developed by a divergence in geographylanguageculturegenes and similarly, point of viewhas the potential to be countered by a common source of information. Therefore, language, in the absence of translation, comprises a barrier to a worldwide community of debate and opinion, although it is also true that media within any given society may be split along class, political or regional lines.
Furthermore, if the language is translated, the translator has room to shift a bias by choosing weighed words for translation. Language may also be seen as a political factor in mass media, particularly in instances where a society is characterized by a large number of languages spoken by its populace.
The choice of language of mass media may represent a bias towards the group most likely to speak that language, and can limit the public participation by those who do not speak the language.
On the other hand, there have also been attempts to use a common-language mass media to reach out to a large, geographically dispersed population, such as in the use of Arabic language by news channel Al Jazeera. Many media theorists concerned with language and media bias point towards the media of the United Statesa large country where English is spoken by the majority of the population. Some theorists argue that the common language is not homogenizing; and that there still remain strong differences expressed within the mass media.
This viewpoint asserts that moderate views are bolstered by drawing influences from the extremes of the political spectrum.
In the United States, the national news therefore contributes to a sense of cohesion within the society, proceeding from a similarly informed population.
According to this model, most views within society are freely expressed, and the mass media are accountable to the people and tends to reflect the spectrum of opinion. Language may also introduce a more subtle form of bias. The selection of metaphors and analogies, or the inclusion of personal information in one situation but not another can introduce bias, such as a gender bias. For example, it makes a difference whether the media calls a group "terrorists" or "freedom fighters" or " insurgents ".
A memo to the staff of the CBC states: Rather than calling assailants "terrorists," we can refer to them as bombers, hijackers, gunmen if we're sure no women were in the groupmilitants, extremists, attackers or some other appropriate noun. In a widely criticized episode, initial online BBC reports of the 7 July London bombings identified the perpetrators as terrorists, in contradiction to the BBC's internal policy.
But by the next day, journalist Tom Gross  noted that the online articles had been edited, replacing "terrorists" by "bombers". The BBC has both been accused of having a pro- Palestinian bias,  with many examples cited, including a documentary falsely accusing Israel of developing a nuclear weapon during the second Palestinian intifada in ,[ citation needed ]  as well as of having a pro-Israel bias,  which it has partially admitted to in a case in Media within countries are sometimes seen as being sycophantic or unquestioning about the country's government.
Western media are often criticized in the rest of the world including eastern EuropeAsiaAfricaand the Middle East as being pro-Western with regard to a variety of political, cultural and economic issues. Al Jazeera is frequently criticized both in the West and in the Arab world. Anglophone bias in the world media[ edit ] It has been observed that the world's principal suppliers of news, the news agenciesand the main buyers of news are Anglophone corporations and this gives an Anglophone bias to the selection and depiction of events.
Anglophone definitions of what constitutes news are paramount; the news provided originates in Anglophone capitals and responds first to their own rich domestic markets. You may improve this articlediscuss the issue on the talk pageor create a new articleas appropriate. December Learn how and when to remove this template message The media are often accused of bias favoring a particular religion or of bias against a particular religion.
In some countries, only reporting approved by a state religion is permitted. In other countries, derogatory statements about any belief system are considered hate crimes and are illegal. We might be entering a new dark age. But the mere publication of a fact did not stop a large proportion of US citizens from believing the myth that he was born overseas.
It is very hard to say how many Australian journalists have left the profession over the last 10 years. This is partly because the nature of journalistic work has changed. Many now work aggregating or producing digital content, never leaving their desks.
Institutions such as universities and NGOs are now producing journalistic content, published online, but the people employed to do this task rarely show up in the figures compiled by unions and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, because their employers are not classified as media organisations.
Nevertheless, the big newsrooms have shrunk beyond recognition. Inindustry commentators estimated that more than Australian journalists had lost their jobs in the previous five years. At the same time, and offsetting this, there are new participants in the Australian media.
We now have online local versions of the British Daily Mail, the youth-oriented news and entertainment outlet Buzzfeed, the New York Times, which has just launched and the Huffington Post, which operates in partnership with Fairfax. Not least, there is this outlet — an Australian edition of the Guardian.
There are also many small, specialist outlets that exist because the economics of online publishing beat the cost of buying broadcasting licences or printing on bits of dead tree, trucking the papers around the nation and throwing them over the fences. For the same reasons, almost any large organisation can, if it chooses, use the worldwide web to be a media outlet — though whether the output classes as journalism or public relations is another matter.
Most of the new entrants to the business employ only a few local journalists. The reputable ones struggle to perform miracles each hour with hardly any reporters. So what does the future hold? I think it is clear we will have many more smaller newsrooms in the future — including new entrants, non-media organisations touting their wares and the wasted remains of the old businesses.
Lacking authority to enforce its canons, the journalism here represented can but express the hope that deliberate pandering to vicious instincts will encounter effective public disapproval or yield to the influence of a preponderant professional condemnation. Kamau Kanyanga, appeared to be making deliberate attempts to turn the paper into a down market one to capture new young readers.
The Standard had of late come under heavy criticism from the puritanical members of our society for this bold journalistic move. But many at the workshops believed there was room in the country and the rest of Africa for that kind of journalism.
Whether or not it succeeded, history alone would tell. When I was about to put the paper to bed, I received a call from one of the top managers ordering me to remove an "ear piece" advertisement urging readers to use a particular type of condom because it gave the user certain specific results which were described in the ad in words leaving little to the imagination. The ad also had a picture of a tired looking half-naked lady - obviously obscene and indecent stuff for a self-respecting family newspaper.
What was interesting about that ad was not only that it had been approved by senior people in the advertising department and placed on the front page of the paper, but the fact that it took the visit by the Aga Khan for anyone to realise that the publication of such material was indecent and uncalled for. The condom ad incident is just an example of how sensitive people become when owners of newspapers are in town. What happened to the obscene ad could happen to any news story considered offensive to the newspaper proprietor when he is on a visit to Kenya.
The concept of human rights in journalistic ethics The concept of freedom of expression as a human right is universally accepted in the region as an important aspect of journalistic ethics. In Kenya, for example, journalists who fail to respect freedom of the press constantly come under fire at discussions on journalistic ethics at the USIU-A. Many journalists attending the discussions express resentment of any form of monopoly or control of the means of expression in Africa, whether this monopoly is by government, a political party, the church or any other special interest group.
Every seventh of July Kenyans demonstrate against dictator ship and in favour of democracy. The parallels of the two abuses of power were close. Both suppressed the truth and whereas one had been dumped in the dustbin of history the other was sure to suffer the same fate.
The Kenyan journalists' suspension was an excellent example of violation of one of the most respected ethical principles of independence for practitioners who have to be protected from governmental, proprietorial and commercial interference in their editorial decision-making.
African journalists in English speaking countries know that ethically it is wrong for governments to guide editors, with or without threats, on how to prepare their copy and what to do with it. Yet that was what happened in Kenya on July 7, after pro-reforms and democracy demonstrations in the streets of Nairobi. The public outcry that followed the suspension was indicative of the fact that the people of Kenya, like those of many Anglophone African countries, were aware of their right to know.
The issue of governmental violation of journalistic independence in both the mainstream and the alternative media in Kenya was crucial because the people only got to know about it when it involved a big event such as the Saba Saba demonstrations. The public hardly ever get to know about governmental interference in editorial decision making in any of the African countries in the region when it involves selection, placement and even editing of what may appear to be ordinary but sensitive stories they read in Africa's daily press or see on their TV screens.
Very often this is done with the full knowledge of, and may be in collaboration with, media proprietors with either an axe to grind or other interests to protect. Apart from governmental interference, editors in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and other Anglophone African countries suffer in silence whenever proprietors, believing that whoever pays the piper should call the tune, determine what is read in our newspapers or seen on screens. Yet they have to tolerate that agony to protect what appears to outsiders to be the high ranking positions they hold.
The story of commercial interference in the editorial decision-making process in English speaking Africa is as old as journalism itself. On an almost daily basis African editors have to deal with numerous demands to promote commercial items with no news values. At times they are asked to suppress stories of news value to editors but dangerous or damaging to either real or potential advertisers. Whenever this happens editors, more often than not, also suffer in silence or follow the publish-and-be-damned philosophy at the risk of being shown the door.
Positions held by Musebe and Kabira were quickly filled by people who saw nothing wrong in their colleagues being victimised.
Almost joyfully they stepped into their departed colleagues' shoes as if they had always ambitiously just waited for the opportunity. To many students of journalistic ethics this state of affairs clearly showed the lack of professional solidarity and indeed the lack of ethical insight.
Was it unethical for any journalist to appear to support those who suppressed freedom of the press? A number of Kenyan journalists interviewed argued that if journalism in that country was fully professionalised, the suspension of Musebe and Kabira would not only have been impossible, but they couldn't have been replaced as quickly as they were. Fraternal professionalism rather than subterranean skulduggery would have triumphed.
The respect for freedom of the press in Africa could not come about when [page-number of print ed.: Many African journalists believed that the time had come for constitutions to be amended to guarantee that no legislation against freedom of the press would be contemplated by anyone in power now or in future. Freedom of information acts also needed to be introduced in Anglophone countries to ensure that journalists were not only free to publish the information they had, but were also allowed free access to that information.
Press freedom and ethics Today many African dictatorial regimes behave as if they had the sole right to grant press freedom as a privilege to their sycophantic loyal journalists. The rest of the world, of course, perceives press freedom as a human right the same as freedom of expression, movement, conscience, assembly and association which require no one's benevolence or permission to be observed.
The African brand of democracy will always be wanting when freedom of the press remains a debatable issue on the agenda of their priorities. How far should the state or any other authority control or limit free expression in the interest of truth to protect individuals' mental and spiritual welfare or to protect itself?
How far is the individual's right both to circulate ideas and information, and to have access to them, unlimited and sacrosanct? In what hands should the media of information be, if not in the hands of the state? Progress in every field of ideas has, as often as not, been born of the lonely struggle of one dissenting man or woman. He suggests it is the unorthodox mind questioning the accepted beliefs of its day and challenging the word of [page-number of print ed.: Where free expression is effectively denied to the dissenting but inspired individual, either by the state or by the majority, great ideas can be permanently lost.
They also acknowledged that besides safeguarding the pursuit of truth and the increase of knowledge, freedom of expression also provided the social climate in which justice could flourish. It made the exposure and prevention of injustice much more probable. Where authority had committed injustice and could also restrict freedom of expression it tended to use its power to cover up its unjust acts.
By suppressing the truth, if it could, it prevented the exposure of its own mistakes or misdeeds. Where freedom of expression existed, therefore, injustice was far less likely to pass unchecked.
A historic example of the exposure of injustice through courageous free expression was the news bulletin on Saba Saba police brutality by the suspended KTN reporters. The ethics of covering elections fairly and impartially According to one great editor, C. Scott, comment is free but facts are sacred, and that was the one aspect of African journalism we discovered through our discussion where the ethical importance of impartiality was always put to the test.
When in Kenya I conducted workshops in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu to prepare journalists for the impartial coverage of the general elections, it became very clear that African journalists often forgot the issue of impartiality and the famous words by Scott. It became clear, too, that many African journalists ignored the vital question of separation of news from comment, or the religious avoidance of what in current usage is termed tendentiousness or what Americans simply call editorialising.
Though Scott's words had been classic, they tended to lose much of their force if divorced, as they commonly are in Africa, from their context. Its [page-number of print ed.: At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation, must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, facts are sacred. Propaganda, so called, by this means is hateful.
The voice of opponents no less than of friends has a right to be heard.Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Comment is also justly subject to a self imposed restraint. It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair. He says the question how far it is the function of the press to give the public what the public wants is still worth asking.
Here, of course, the element of competition enters. It is convenient to speak generally of the press, but what is meant in fact is a number of individual newspapers, each intent on increasing its circulation at the expense of the others.
Journalism faces a crisis worldwide – we might be entering a new dark age
In the campaign the odds are all in favour of the paper that gives its readers what its readers want, as against a rival who gives them what it thinks they ought to have. As an example, take the intro of a recent front page lead of that paper: The writing is on the wall.
It is either reforms or anarchy. That is the loud and clear message that the Kenyans have been beaming to President Moi for the last couple of weeks, but like the mean-spirited and stone-hearted Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, he is unwilling to let the people down.
It is the biggest challenge he has so far faced. Interpretative journalism becomes even more forceful when it is based on investigative powers. Most of the alternative newspapers in Anglophone Africa tend to ignore the ethical rule of impartiality; but their editorialised presentation of news is only popular among readers because it is based on well researched stories which are interpreted to the readers in a slanted manner to suit the convenience of the parties supported by the editors.
Very often this crusading, and often biased, presentation of stories has landed a number of newspapers in very serious legal problems, some of which seem to be more political than legal. Many of the alternative press publications in English speaking Africa are naturally partisan, but that should be no excuse for their blatant twisting of news to an extent that opinion becomes more prominent than facts. Obviously journalists anywhere in the world have plenty of opinion.
But the profession is based on the idea that they can keep those opinions out of their stories. Very often journalists in the African alternative press, and at times even those in the mainstream press, do less than a perfect job of it. Readers often see personal feelings intruding into their so-called hard news stories. Recently, for example, The People was ordered by courts to pay Shs 10, to Joshua Kulei for alleging he was involved in corrupt practices with Nairobi-based Asian businessmen.
If the alternative press in Kenya appears to be rather weak on the ethical requirements of impartiality, they are even weaker on the fair play issue. Hardly ever are readers of the alternative publications which make scathing attacks against KANU leaders given the opinion of the people being pounded; yet professional ethics demand that voice should be heard, too. Ethically any accusation made by a newspaper outside a court of law should be balanced by opinions of those being accused.
The alternative press in Anglophone Africa is full of serious accusations against leaders in [page-number of print ed.: Very often the accusations are legitimate since the papers publishing them are only playing their watchdog role of the Fourth Estate. But the manner in which the stories are presented to the people is unprofessional as it fails to observe the important ethical requirement of fair play.
Stories accusing the government of all manner of things would sound more authentic if the accusations were balanced by comments of the accused, even if that comment was simply saying "no comment! It is also possible many of them don't even know that being publicly biased is being unprofessional. The thrill of chasing an expose on a major corrupt practice within the government could easily blind them to the fact that as professionals they must always make an attempt to see the other side of the coin.
Howard Kurtz, the press critic of the Washington Post, says journalists' real bias is bad news bias. They love conflict, emotion, charges and counter charges. A reporter who spends months chasing allegations of wrongdoing sometimes finds his vision clouded by the thrill of the chase.
One who spends too much time hanging out with cops and prosecutors may wind up thinking the same way, sometimes overlooking reckless conduct by his law enforcement buddies. A city council man who keeps feeding a reporter inside dope is less likely to become the object of harsh scrutiny.
But these tendencies have more to do with mind-set than ideology. Much of their reporting on the issue of dialogue was expected to be biased either in content, tone, choice of language or prominence of play. This kind of bias was noticeable to any keen eye. It was natural therefore that when pro-dialogue groups held huge demonstrations throughout the capital city and other major towns of Kenya on July 7,all the papers gave them the [page-number of print ed.: The point I want to make here in favour of Kenyan journalists is that despite the known latent bias among journalists favouring the opposition stance of dialogue, no journalist took part in the demonstration as an active participant.
This Kenyan episode contrasted sharply with another demonstration in the spring ofwhenpeople marched in Washington for abortion rights. The demonstration turned into a journalists' watershed because the marchers included a number of reporters and editors from New York Times, Washington Post and other media organisations. Though she had had permission from her boss, Howell Raines, before taking part in the demonstration, Greenhouse was later reprimanded for "violating New York Times policy.
Matters that are routine for most citizens, such as signing petitions or contributing to political candidates, ought to be out of bounds for members of the press. We ought to set ourselves the same standards to which we so rightly hold public officials, though no one should pretend that we are opinion-free. It is the public parading of such opinion that poses the danger of leading us onto a slippery professional slope.
In Anglophone Africa survival of the alternative press appears to depend heavily on exposes obtained from freelancers who are not necessarily reliable news gatherers. Many are the times as the Managing Editor of the Daily Nation when the use of stories from such reporters landed me in courts facing serious libel lawsuits. Yet when all is said and done, it is natural for any truly independent newspaper, radio or television station to have a professionally healthy hunger for exposes.
All I am suggesting is that that hunger must always be tempered by a careful guard against reporters' temptation to lie. This temptation is not peculiar only to African journalists. A close examination of African press - both mainstream and the alternative - reveals that untruth can and does slip through editors' fingers, [page-number of print ed.: Hence the need to check and recheck all the facts before putting pen to paper. I knew of a news editor at Florida's St.
Petersburg Times who had a big poster above his head for all his reporters to see which said, "If your mother says she loves you check it out! Practitioners and proprietors in the Western world are unable to agree on how to curb encroaching tendencies to use pornography as circulation boosters in down- market newspapers.
The International Press Institute has become a stage for debate between those opposed to pornography and those backing it as a form of journalism.
The latest worrying pornographic threat to communication has hit the Internet, forcing Germany to make attempts to tame the Web. Writing about the "Internet Trials" in the Time magazine of July 14,Jordan Bonfate says the question of how to police the borderless realm of Internet has baffled jurists and legislators ever since the World Wide Web started its wild expansion in the early s. But regulation happy Germany, he says, was one of the first countries to try to patrol this twilight zone of information and entertainment, zealously extending existing criminal statutes to the Internet and sending in the cyber-sheriffs to go after the likes of Angela Marquardt and Felix Somm, both accused of providing access to home pages on the Web with illicit content.
The new legislation defines responsibility for pornography and other potentially objectionable material appearing on computer screens, prescribes the rules of protecting the confidentiality of personal data and grants the world's first licenses for "digital signatures," a supposedly foolproof method of protecting commercial transactions on the Internet.
The measures taken by Germany were discussed at the USIU-A workshops and all the African journalists from every African country represented thought it was an ideal step which African governments should emulate. The issue of decency on newspaper pages can be serious as there is a tendency on the part of at least one national newspaper in Kenya, The East African Standard, to go down-market for circulation purposes.
Given the eagerness noticeable among the young professionals keen to become proprietors of their own publications, I believe it will not take long before Africa witnesses the birth of magazines specialising in prurient interests.
Journalism in Anglophone Africa is among the most admirable on the continent of Africa but among its biggest problems facing it is how to deal with inaccurate information.
Accuracy has become a major professional concern among journalists all over the world, but in English speaking Africa it is a particularly serious problem because the region appears to be in short supply of reliable news sources even among official circles.
Media bias - Wikipedia
Yet a lot of what is published in African newspapers, like in the rest of the world, is second-hand information. Journalism scholar, Curtis D. MacDougall, admits that most news gathered by reporters is second-hand but warns journalists to remember that news sources unquestionably are responsible for as many if not more news story errors than reporters.
He even suggests that mistakes made by those giving out news may be intentional. If a reporter approached the task of both [page-number of print ed.: Fairness and caution both required that when two persons interviewed differed greatly in what they were saying, the statements of both should be included in the news story. To achieve this objective, reputable newspapers went to extremes almost unimaginable to the general public. The sentence saying that Mr.
Smith could not be reached for a statement may have been added to a story many hours after futile efforts to attain either accuracy of fairness or both. Recently a prominent Kenyan opposition politician, Kenneth Matiba, told journalists he had resigned his parliamentary seat and promised to communicate his resignation to the speaker of the National Assembly the next day [ "Matiba Resigns" in East African Standard of May 31stfront page No.
But the next day Matiba disowned the story, scapegoating the journalists who had written it. More than anywhere else in the world, reporters in Africa had to be extra careful because they were not only dealing with inaccurate, misleading and sometimes outright lying sources of information but also with extremely ruthless laws that dealt cruelly with published untruths. The only answer for the true professionals was to be truly responsible journalists ready to publish the truth and be damned for it.
Which brings me to the next most important pillar of journalistic ethics, responsibility. Whenever African despots talk about "responsible" journalism or press they mean the journalism and press they have in their pockets and therefore in their total control. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations in Africa have been used or misused to perpetuate dictatorship ever since colonial powers gave way to African authoritarianism.
Whenever a coup replaces one dictator with another, the first thing the rebellious soldiers go for is a radio station. African journalists have a [page-number of print ed.: The argument about whether journalists in Africa are nationalists or professionals first has been advanced by those in power when appealing to practitioners to suppress important news in the name of patriotism. Functions of the media and building public opinion In my opinion, which I expressed at the USIU-A workshops, journalists are more patriotic when they are guided by the truth and when they draw demarcation lines between right and wrong.
Obviously for journalists to do this most effectively they must understand and master the functions of their profession.