Meeting Ethical and Legal Responsibilities Chapter 2 Trust “….there is growing public concern about the performance and behavior of the news media.The bottom line is that the public no longer trusts us. And for journalism, that is critical.Trust is our most important product. No longer, if you see it in the newspaper, it must be true. Performance of Journalists Questionable Viewed by many as arrogant, rude, uncaring people who only want the story… Irritation with television reporters who pretend to be sympathetic. “How do you feel to knowing you are now homeless, wifeless, broke, with no job prospects…oh, by the way, did you hear another hurricane is coming?” Media Conglomerates Disney-ABC, ESPN, A & E, History Channel Gannett-USA Today, Detroit Free Press and the LCP Time Warner – CNN, TNT, TBS, HBO international, Time, People and Sports Illustrated What is the background of these giant companies? Where do their sympathies lie? Is there bias? Inaccuracies Balloon Boy Terrorist attack on the Potomac The race for headline, breaking news is causing people to skeptically view journalists Excessive Reporting Jon and Kate O.J. Simpson Trial LCP and the KKK auction Viewers/readers criticize yet they are drawn in by the numbers. TV news shows still gaining ratings. Functions of a Journalist Political Function: The press is the watchdog of the government. Watch for scandal, wrongdoing Scrutinize budgets and programs Economic Function: informs public about products, goods, and services in addition to events. Business, Wall Street Political and Product Advertising Functions of a Journalist The Sentry Function: keeps watch over society’s horizons. Alert about future environmental problems Nuclear war Disease The Record-Keeping Function: reflect an accurate record of local, national and world news. School board elections Deaths Price of oil Functions of a Journalist The Entertainment Function: provide diversion Comics Feature stories of human interest Pictures The Social Function: provides a way for society to connect A more folksy approach to news Human interest stories – water-cooler Functions of a Journalist The Marketplace Function: a forum where ideas are expressed and shared. Editorials/letters to the editor Placement of ads The Agenda-Setting Function: providing information for people on what to think about Prioritize, emphasize stories, topics Evaluating the Media 1. Newspapers -Are the stories balanced, do they cover local, national and world news? (Brighton vs. Howell) 2. Radio - Are they professional, or just entertainers? Television – Are the stories balanced, do they cover local, national and world news? Are their best stories saved for ratings week? 4. Magazines – Is it fair, without bias? Is it up-to-date? 3. The Ethics of Journalism Journalists making up stories, plagiarizing stories, manipulating photos… Credibility – ability to be believed and trusted Ethics – daily working guidelines that serve the public’s best interest; violation of ethics not punishable by law; Framers of Constitution believed that a free press, even though irresponsible, is preferable than a gov’t run press Accuracy - no such thing as one, small error; accurate all the time, in every detail The Ethics of Journalism People expect honesty from the press Objectivity – fair, neutral observers of events and issues; personal feelings are not to color news stories; report it and let the audience decide. Good taste – Clinton scandal Simultaneous rebuttal, or right of reply – both sides of the story Fairness to all – no matter what affiliation Plagiarism – original work Attribution – who really said what; do not use anonymous sources The Truth – above all, never fake anything Libel Law “If you print that I’ll sue you for everything you own.” Libel is printed false defamation of character. To defame someone is to reduce that person’s reputation. The best defense against a successful libel suit is good reporting. Defenses against Libel Libel is seldom considered a crime; tried in civil court between individuals; monetary damages; laws differ state to state 1. 2. 3. 4. Truth – No libel suit if story is true, unless it is an invasion of privacy. Privilege – what is said in a official public forum (courtroom, floor of Congress) Fair comment –You may express a negative opinion (a review) but the facts must be true Admission of error – It wasn’t malicious; it was an error that has been corrected.