AT&D #24. Journalism Ethics

Do you think journalists follow the RTDNA and SPJ code of ethics? Why or why not?

After reading through each of the codes, I can definitely say that both exhibit extensive detail in regards to many areas of journalism one has to uphold, practice, avoid and be wary of. With that said, some of the points made by the SPJ code — I already realized — are generally followed and in other cases, broken consistently. For instance, some codes that are typically followed include taking responsibility for one’s work (i.e stating an author / editor / writer), identifying sources (i.e. quotes are typically always attributed to a person whose name is given in a byline), and maintaining neutrality concerning racial and sexual insensitiveness (i.e. having proper diction and an appropriate writing style by a journalist).

On the flipside, some codes that are typically broken include writing on conflicts of interest (where in some cases, such conflicts can be very controversial; police brutality comes to mind), writing to a style that may cater to an opinion (usually political; can be either subtle or obvious), and distorting facts by stretching the truth on a matter for the sake of having a “juicier” story (which can also be achieved by editing accompanying photos as “seeing is believing” to some readers).

The RTDNA code, which is similar to the SPJ code, focuses more on standards concerning electronic journalism. Similarly, upon reading the codes, I found many that are just as easily followed and broken. Perhaps among the most followed of the codes include the depiction of events, upholding the respect and dignity of individuals who have been a part of them (i.e. the use of censorship for violence captured by footage and the acknowledgement of one denying an interview upon a tragic event) and the presentation of diversity and opinions expressed from interviewees (a reporter may interview a handful of people of various backgrounds to express varied representation of accounts in getting an audience to identify with the opinions of certain people and groups).

Although seldom, some of the codes I found that journalists / news outlets have broken include manipulating digital images in order to emphasize or de-emphasize a story’s impact on viewers (I have read that some stations practice this) and having a reporter or journalist engage in an unacceptable activity (on or off-air) that undermines their role in representing the media as an honest, unbiased and reliable source.

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