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Question:

Write a critical essay aiming to resolve the issue you pose by considering a range of possible positions on the issue.
 
 

Answer:

Ethics are considered as the moral principles and the conduct of the activity. It governs the behaviour of an individual and shapes up the perception of an individual. Every field of work has certain principles and ethical conduct that deals with the perception of the people (Francis & Dugger, 2014). The essay is based on the ethical principles that need to be considered by journalists. The topic focuses on the debate that exists in the role of journalism. Most often, it is seen that journalists tend to interfere in the personal lives of celebrated individuals. The essay analyses the ethical principles that are needed to be considered by the journalists. In order to do so, certain theories related ethics are focused. The essay also provides discussion about the right and wrong ethical conduct on the part of the journalists.

In the modern world, journalists play an important role in providing information about various aspects of life. This information helps people to gain knowledge about the events that take place in the world. According to Harcup, (2015), journalists also interview famous people and gain significant knowledge about personal lives. In this regard, the role of journalism or a journalist can be analysed. One of the significant roles of journalism is that it needs to guide people in the correct direction. The journalists need to provide information that can help people to get a clear image about the events in the world. It plays a leading role in aiding a society to free itself from any problems. In some cases, it also plays the role of an aggressor in trying to provide justice to people in need of it. However, the roles played by a journalist needs to abide by the ethics that exist in the profession. These ethics are considered as rules that are needed to be maintained in the profession.

Some of the ethical conducts include filtering of news. In most cases, it is required that journalists filter some news in order to avoid any political conflict. This is done to protect the interests of the people and maintain harmony in the society. However, McBride and Rosenstiel, (2013), provide the view that the truth needs to be displayed in front of the people so that society can remain aware of the conditions or type of people that exist in the world. In this context, one can debate the fact that in doing so the private lives of individuals need to be exposed by the media. This may lead to the violation of another ethical conduct in the case of journalism. The exposure of the private lives of the people may lead to the exposure of private files such as military secrets. This can lead to problems for the country.

On the other hand, other people are of the opinion that private news needs not to be published by the media. This is because the private matters need to be kept a secret from the local people. Crane and Matten, (2016) stated that the private information might also create a stereotype image in the lives of the public. This may lead to problems during the time of respecting the individual. Thus, the theories relating to ethics can be discussed in order to justify the relevance of such a topic. Truthful information cannot be liable thereby the accuracy cannot be determined. While exposing the truth, journalists have to make considerable research to identify the truth. The application of utilitarian theory can be related to this event. The actions taken by the journalists are right or wrong can be determined by applying this theory.

According to Barrow, (2015), the utilitarian is of the opinion that morality serves the purpose of making a better life by increasing the number of good things that are necessary for a good life. This includes the increase of abstract things like happiness and joy. The custom-based moral codes are rejected, as the contribution to the success of human life is restricted due to the limitations. The method to evaluate wider things depends upon the actions, laws, policies and moral codes. Despite this concept, the theory met with a few criticisms. One of the criticisms of the theory is that one needs to justify the good and bad aspects. Perception about an event or individual varies from one person to another (Hayry, 2013). Hence, it can be said that reporting on the personal lives of public interests can be a datable factor for the people believing in the utilitarian theory.

 


|According to Mulgan, (2014), the society consists of people with various traits. These traits develop the personality of an individual and as a result, the perception towards media varies. It can be said that the private information provided by the media can expose certain facts that may hinder the beliefs of the people. This can be attributed to the fact that most public figures are considered as role models. Hence, insight into the personal life may expose unwanted matter for the public. The report of the incidents on private matters causes concern for the public figures in the society. The stability of the public officials needs to be the top priority for the journalists. Like every individual, public officials also need time for private space. Hence, it is important for journalists to ignore the private space and make room for more important news. On the other hand, other people view the private news to be a knowledge-gaining factor. The opinion is justified as the private and public appearance of people varies considerably.

In this regard, the duties of a journalist can be analysed. Journalists have to perform their duties as the publishers of news. Thereby, any news that comes in the way needs to be reported to the public. It is the morality and belief of the people that distinguishes news from the other. Thereby, it can be said that changing the perception of the people is not the duty of a journalist.

This sparks the interest of the people to know more about the particular individual. Porlezza and Splendore (2016) observed that the private life of the public officials defines the character of the person. It was also opined that the private life brings out the true nature of an individual. Hence, in the case of political scenarios, knowledge about the private life of an individual is essential. This helps in choosing the right candidate as the representative of a country. However, it needs to be kept in mind that not all the information available on the net is authentic. The truth about a private life can be manipulated in order to make the public figure fall from grace. Sometimes anonymous tips may also result in similar condition (Foust, 2017). Thus, it can be said that due to the different perceptions of the people it can be difficult to come to a specific conclusion. The utilitarianism theory is countered by the deontological ethics.

Unlike the utilitarian, the deontologist believes that morality is a part of social duty. The moral duties are to do the things that are right as well as wrong. The perception about good things and bad things is not dependent on the ultimate result. Paquette, Sommerfeldt and Kent, (2015) stated that the action is considered as variable depending upon the choice taken by an individual. It has been stated that duties can be divided into two categories. One is the general duty that is directed for the benefit of every individual. The other is the duty to maintain social relationships. These two forms of duties often create doubts in the minds of an individual. The obligation of these duties makes it difficult for individuals to maintain a social role on a consistent basis. It has been said that the actions are depended upon the consequences it causes. Without a proper result, one cannot argue that the action adopted by an individual is good or bad.

In the light of this statement, it can be said that the theory can be applied in the case of journalists. The reporting of private matter can be done as long as it does not have any negative impact on the society. Gamez-Djokic and Molden, (2016) stated that the actions undertaken by the journalists are the choices made. These choices are made depending on a particular purpose in mind. This purpose needs to be justified and investigated in order to conclude regarding the choice of action. Hence, actions cannot be deemed as good or bad unless one understands the intention of it. In the light of this, the reporting of private information can be regarded as a general duty (Bowen & Prescott, 2015). This is mainly because the journalists perform this duty keeping in mind the interests of the people.

In this case, it can be said that the general duties of a journalist are fulfilled by the application of this theory. According to Sykes, (2014), a journalist needs to report news that may interest the people of a country. The level of secrecy of the news needs to be determined by the people. Thus, the perception of people develops via this manner. Thus, the duties of a journalist based on this factor can be justified. As long as there is no harm done, this news can be ignored and the duties of a journalist cannot be questioned.

However, some people have a different opinion regarding the concept of actions. Most people view the exposure of private life to be a harassment thing. In this regard, it can be said that the individuals remind the duty of the journalists. The people view that private life, as well as public life, needs to be separate, and it is important that every person provide respect to the private lives of individuals. This thought is agreed by Slade and Prinsloo, (2013) saying that the journalists need to focus on areas that are more important for providing knowledge to the people.

Thus, it can be concluded that owing to the controversial and perception of the individuals, the correct verdict about the interference in personal life can be difficult to reach. However, after having analysed the consequences it can be said that like other news, personal life of public figures can be known to other common people. As long as the private matters are not controversial, it can provide inspiration for the common mass. Hence, it can be said that journalists need to provide its duty as long as it does not have a negative consequence on the lives of the people.

 

References

Barrow, R. (2015). Utilitarianism: A contemporary statement. Routledge.

Bowen, S.A. & Prescott, P., (2015). Kant’s contribution to the ethics of communication. Subscription Information, 38.

Crane, A. & Matten, D., (2016). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship & sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.

Foust, J., (2017). Online journalism: principles & practices of news for the Web. Taylor & Francis.

Francis, P.C. & Dugger, S.M., (2014). Professionalism, ethics, & value?based conflicts in counseling: an introduction to the special section. Journal of Counseling & Development, 92(2), 131-134.

Gamez-Djokic, M. & Molden, D., (2016). Beyond affective influences on deontological moral judgment: The role of motivations for prevention in the moral condemnation of harm. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(11), 1522-1537.

Harcup, T., (2015). Journalism: principles & practice. Sage.

Hayry, M., (2013). Liberal utilitarianism & applied ethics. Routledge.

McBride, K. & Rosenstiel, T. eds., (2013). The new ethics of journalism: Principles for the 21st century. CQ Press.

Mulgan, T., (2014). Understanding utilitarianism. Routledge.

Paquette, M., Sommerfeldt, E.J. & Kent, M.L., (2015). Do the ends justify the means? Dialogue, development communication, & deontological ethics. Public Relations Review, 41(1), 30-39.

Porlezza, C. & Splendore, S., (2016). Accountability & Transparency of Entrepreneurial Journalism: Unresolved ethical issues in crowdfunded journalism projects. Journalism Practice, 10(2), 196-216.

Slade, S. & Prinsloo, P., (2013). Learning analytics: Ethical issues & dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10), 1510-1529.

Sykes, J., (2014). Legal & ethical issues in the media [Book Review]. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, (150), 184.

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