Q: "Ethical Journalism is a Contradiction in Terms" discuss.
Humbert Wolfe (1930) .
To many, Ethical journalism would be considered as an example of an oxymoron, that never the Twain shall meet. Others however do suggest that the two have an affinity. Belsey & Chadwick (1992:1) demonstrate that there is no contradiction between ethics and journalism.
"Much of the practice of journalism must be described and analysed in terms of a set of concepts which are essentially ethical, such as freedom, objectivity, truth, honesty, privacy. Even democracy, the context in which so much discussion of the media takes place, is really an ethical term". (Belsey & Chadwick 1992:1).
Thus that is to say that you can't talk about journalism without talking about ethics. This essay will therefore discuss the role of ethics in the press, and discuss some obstructions that can hinder and options that can enforce ethical journalism. Can these two words really live in harmony or are they as compatible as Clinton and Bush??!!.
One of the first things to consider is what the word ethical means and also what it means to be ethical to a journalist. Seib & Fitzpatrick (1995:29) state that ethics are a set a values that are "Morally acceptable by individuals and throughout society, and are used as a basis of human behaviour". It is the expected standard that we choose to live up to. Ethical codes are less about laws and rules and more about "serving to create a collective conscience."(Keeble, 2001:131) Laws according to Seib & Fitzpatrick (1997:12). "Determine what can be done, Ethics determine what should be done." In relation to journalism, ethics are a code of principles that a journalist should try and adhere to in order for them to do their job in an honest and responsible way. .
The first statement in The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) code of conduct is that "A Journalist has the duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.