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SOCIAL SCIENCE Is the role played by media in controversies against the ethics of journalism?  

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The media are, for the most part, responsible for policing themselves, which is, I think, for the best.  There are, to be sure, journalists who behave unethically, for example, those who simple pass on "news" that has been written for them by government or private entities, without investigating its accuracy.  There are inflammatory media personalities, but whether speaking or writing to inflame is unethical depends on whom you ask, and the First Amendment gives those who do so a great deal of latitude.  In terms of self-policing, those journalists who do behave unethically, with plagiarism or stories that are completely fabricated, lose their positions and are not hired by reputable news media thereafter.  Defamation is always subject to lawsuit by those who are defamed.  Would we want someone outside the profession to police for ethical behavior?  Who would that be?  The government cannot do so because of the First Amendment, which is as it should be.

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stolperia eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's a fine line. You would need to define "controversies" before you could really address whether or not the actions of media representatives are or are not ethical, and even then it would probably vary depending upon the particular set of circumstances and the role assumed by the media.

"Overzealous" is a good description for many media representatives. The immediacy of communications in this age seems to make them think they urgently need to report on everything they observe as quickly as possible, without bothering to take the time to verify facts or consider the potential impact of what they do or say. Whether that is unethical or merely foolhardy, I don't know.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This depends on what role you think the media is playing.  If we're talking about tapping the phones of celebrities or people in the news (as in England) then certainly it is.  If you are talking about simply playing up scandals beyond what we might think they are worth, then no.  That may be a bit trashy, but it is not unethical.  So it's a case by case thing.  Do you have a specific case in mind?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that media outlets try to be careful in honestly and ethically reporting media breaches of ethics.  They are often overzealous.   If anything, they pounce on them.  A "better them than me" attitude.  I always think of Anderson Cooper pulling the little girl out of the mob in Haiti.  Many in the media criticized him for interfering.  There were some in the media that defended him though.

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