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Journalism, ethics of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L119-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

It is sometimes suggested that ethical principles, even fundamental ones like nonmaleficence and beneficence, are totally out of place in journalism, and that it should be shaped solely by market forces. This suggestion should be resisted. One reason why journalism should be ethical is that in a democracy it is expected to serve the public interest, which means that it should accept the responsibility to circulate the information and opinion without which a democracy could not operate, and to enable it to do this the freedom of the press is acknowledged.

If journalism is to serve the public interest, then a commitment to truth-telling is fundamental. Journalists should also be fair and accurate in reporting news, should publish corrections, should offer a right of reply. They should avoid discrimination, deception, harassment, betraying confidences and invasions of privacy. But ethical journalism is more than lists of requirements and prohibitions. In investigative journalism, for example, some deception or intrusion into privacy could be justified in order to uncover corruption. Ethical journalism is therefore reflective understanding of the underlying principles of harm and benefit and the public interest, and an ability to apply them in particular cases.

Citing this article:
Belsey, Andrew. Journalism, ethics of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L119-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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