What has happened to the profession of journalism? Do they taught about journalism ethics during their training?

Every day we see examples of unethical behaviour. We all know know about the extreme unethical behaviour – criminal behaviour- of hacking people’s ( even dead people’s) telephones and bribing officials for information.

But there are lots of other examples of journalists being unethical that we may have just come to accept. Here are just some:

1. A well-known male actor leaving a nightclub was photographed with a wet patch on the front of his trousers – and the picture was published. Any man over 50 knows the difficulty of sometimes “finishing off” after urination. But what was going through a photographer’s mind when he/she thought it was right to photograph someone’s embarrassing mishap. What kind of editor would want to embarrass another human being by publishing such a picture?

2. Women leaving a motorcar often have the cellulite on their thighs or their underwear (or lack thereof) photographed and published – with mocking subheads pointing out how imperfect these women are! The Duchess of Cambridge had her knickers photographed when the wind blew her dress sup. Again what kind of human being would stoop so low as to want to hurt another in this way?

3. A British women was sentences to death in an Indonesian court for drug smuggling. Some disgraceful journalist shoved a microphone in her face as she was leaving court and asked “How do you feel?” Forget the stupidity of the question – but what kind of person would lack such sensitivity to think it okay to do such a thing to someone in severe distress?

4. Often, interviewers on TV and radio instead of attempting to gain information and clarity – try to show what clever, aggressive interviewers they are and mock, the interviewee – and even ask questions which put words in their mouths.

5. Is it not unethical for a newspaper to support one political party and slant its stories to show that party in a good light and print derogatory stories about the party it does not support? Are not journalists supposed to help us make sense of the world?

Let’s be honest – for some journalists and editors  the motive is fame and money. What other explanation can there be for such unethical, inhuman behaviour? Most journalists do a great job – but those that do should make more vocal effort to condemn their colleagues who are unethical. A pass in the Ethics of Journalism course during training should be mandatory.

Note to editors Dr Bill is available for expert opinion, interviews and comments on ethical matters. See About Us for Bill’s credentials.

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