This week we focused on the texts derived from chapter 15 – Legal and Ethical Issues. Below I have included the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance – Journalists’ Code of Ethics.
1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10. Do not plagiarise.
11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
The text discusses the importance of practising in respect to the aforementioned code of ethics. This is to ensure that journalists don’t find themselves caught up in any legal or ethical issues.
‘Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principals of journalism’ (Alysen, 2012).
Sometimes situations can get out of hand and journalists may find themselves facing serious issues. An example of journalists caught up in trouble is the ‘royal prank phone call‘, whereby radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian managed to get through to the Duchess of Cambridge’s room at Edward VII Hospital in 2012. The nurse; Jacintha Saldanha who transferred the call, as a result committed suicide (Shears, 2013).
Despite the code of ethics above, many journalists practise what is called ‘chequebook journalism’. This is quite straight foward – a source is paid for their information, story or vision. According to Alysen, this practise is quite common in the women’s magazines market as well as television current affair shows (Alysen, 2012).
A recent example of this is the botched child abduction case in Lebanon, that lead to Channel Nine’s 60 Minute reporter Tara Brown and the crew imprisoned with kidnapping-related offences (Johnston, 2016). There has been speculation that 60 Minutes paid for the recovery operation, however Channel Nine is yet to confirm or deny (Johnston, 2016).
The publication of material that identifies an individual or institution and has a tendency to:
– Lower ones reputation
– Cause them to be shunned or avoided
– Expose them to hatred, contempt or ridicule (Alysen, 2012).
An example of this was when Australian Journalist Alan Morison was almost sued for defaming the Royal Thai Navy. Luckily he was acquitted, as he was facing up to seven years in jail for publishing a story that was seen to have damaged Thailand’s image in 2013 (Murdoch, 2015).
Journalist’s must always be careful with what they publish. Ensuring that all information is not only reliable, but also ethical and legal.