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Ethics in Journalism

Clifford G. Christians


Journalism ethics is a branch of applied philosophy of moral values and rules. Beginning with moral issues in medicine, the field expanded since the mid-twentieth century to include such professions as law, business, journalism, and engineering. Applied ethics has developed over the decades from merely describing actual moral behavior to establishing principles that guide decision-making. Journalism ethics retains an interest in the concrete, everyday challenges of professional practice, but considers it crucial to integrate those principles as well. In its ideal forms, →  news serves the public interest, that is, the interests not of readers and viewers but of citizens. From this perspective, social responsibility theory has become the most common form of journalism ethics in democratic societies around the world (→  Journalists’ Role Perception ). With the same core ideas but different nuances in countries across the globe, this ethical framework parallels the socio-political character of news. Through an ethics of social responsibility, the major issues facing journalism are: the market, truth, diversity, privacy, and technology. In the US, the Commission on Freedom of the Press published its report, A free and responsible press , in 1947. Named for the commission chairman, Robert Hutchins of the University of Chicago, the report insisted that the news media have an obligation ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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