Journalism and Ethics - Ethics in Journalism in the Era of Prolific Sources

Diego Minuti
Abstract:
As all other human activities before the advance of technology and thought, the contemporary journalism is also changing, maintaining, in the meantime, the specificity of its role: to inform, to give everyone the chance to meet people, facts, and ideas, and then make a personal opinion. But the advent of new technologies has paradoxically made it harder to tell the truth because the Internet is almost a lazy journalist who knows the computer just to have the whole world within the reach of a mouse. Having a manifold effect determining the network, it is no longer the man to decide what actually is news, but the response that it has had on the Net, and then in the world therefore is. The lack of filters on the Net means that everything that is available to those who use the Web works as or, just for the sake of knowledge, is assumed as the rank of truth – only to realize, as more frequently happens, that the error is always lurking. The United States, the country that is always in front of others and its technology, for the vast use they make of it, are perhaps the best example to understand how did the journalist profession change, but also have soothing forms of security and protection to the reader. The possibility of having a window permanently open to electronic newspapers that are published in the most remote nooks of the Earth may lead to the temptation of indulging transgressions. But if you rely on the others’ eyes, you fall in the risk of telling people not to trust strangers. But when American reporters are wrong, their own newspapers are the first to denounce them. And this is a sign of how there can not be a great democracy without great press and, therefore, a large press can only be an expression of a great democracy. One matter of great emphasis, in my opinion, is the negative use, often too casual, that makes the web, now that almost everything is allowed, even interpret a fact and not merely tell about it. A couple of years ago, most broadcasting channels around the world showed pictures of a Palestinian and his son trapped in the Gaza Strip, in a shoot-out between Islamic militants and Israeli soldiers. Eventually, as the cameras transmitted, they both died in front of the objectives of photographers. Images, as in fact happened, ’’were’’ interpreted by most of the international press, in the sense that their political values took precedence over reality. That is, the death of the two innocent people ended up in a story bigger than themselves. But the network should be considered a great opportunity, especially when, as has recently happened during the protests in Iran, in the absence of a space for official information the journalists had only one source, the Web. Twitter reported that three people died during the protests. Some sources of information broadcasted that news, some did not. And who broke the news made a choice that is explained in the trial of the first magnitude. That is why we broke the news; in this way the drama of those moments could have best been bespoken. What we come up is whether alternative sources of news, such as bloggers and Twitter, can we rank official. I do have my concerns, others do not, and this debate will obviously continue. When I talk to younger colleagues trying to explain the need to have only one reference point – the truth – I realize I am saying quite a trivial thing. There is a fact, and then there is the news. There is what is happening and what then becomes news. These are two elements that need and should be coincident, but often are not. And here the assessment of fairness and good work of a journalist must be taken into account: had he been able to tell what was real in fact as it actually or commonly happens in such a profession or, had he described it and hence has he bowed to other needs. Anyone, who has endured a past in which the lack of freedom of expression had been almost uncritically accepted, possesses thirst for knowledge, for lore. The journalist is now part of a mechanism, but should not fall into thinking that he is the most important mechanism. He is a piece of the chessboard where the interest is far greater than him and where he must stand above the ability of not falling into temptation; to feel just a part, and not more, who tells the truth. A journalist can create a character, so that he can destroy a person afterwards. But when something is about to be spilled out, he must not master other than himself and his morals. In a perfect world, the journalist should not have friends; he should only think and act upon his own head, he should forget his religion, his political beliefs. Having no masters has always been the dream for most journalists, others’ only reason why they started this profession is having their master. A world without ethics is not a world. A world without honest journalists, capable of telling the truth, even at the cost of their lives, is not a world but the kingdom of darkness, pain, not illuminated by the sun of freedom.

Full text available in PDF: Academicus-MMX-1-109-119.pdf

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): http://dx.medra.org/10.7336/academicus.2010.01.10

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