First of all, this article touches on some issues brought up on pages like Who can be a Journalist? and Are Press Credentials Required? In fact iNA’s Code of Conduct or “CoC”, which is a great guide for both aspiring and seasoned journalist alike. It is also the very core of what embodies what a journalist should be all about. This is partially why I chose to write just some of my thoughts on the Responsibilities of the Press and Journalism…
However, there are many realities that are faced around the world by both professional and citizen journalists. Most often is political pressure and social stigmas. There are also cultural considerations which may also factor in, but the basic principles in iNA’s CoC are quite fundamental, and should be applicable regardless of geographic, political, social, economic, cultural, religious or any other differentiating or defining characteristics.
With that in mind, I now want to start by focusing on one of the main principals of a free and open press, which in my opinion is of vital importance today. Simply put, it is that professional, full-time, part-time and citizen journalists, are all equals in their social responsibility to gather, process and report on the facts.
Additionally, all journalists have a responsibility to share the stories they feel in good conscience are of merit, and vital for public awareness and consideration, always with due-diligence to fact-check while also respecting the rights and responsibilities of individuals, be they private individuals or public figures and always taking into consideration each individual’s basic right to privacy.
The tensions between these principals has long been a point of contention in society and among the press, but this is also a most necessary tension. One that should keep journalists honest, and humble as we should always be (and truly are) subject to being held to an even higher standard than any public official.
For it is our duty, our responsibility, and it is our social contract to report on stories of note, to keep both the government, its officials and the interests of business and industry in check by openly and accurately reporting on any and all issues when they appear to us to be questionable, and to clarify whenever we are shown to have been in error.
Just as truth in advertising should be sought after in the advertising and marketing industries, truth in reporting should as well. The fact that some in journalism (be they many or few) do not embody good character through their actions and to their individual shame, and the frustration of other members of the press, these individuals fail to seek moral high ground.
That doesn’t absolve the rest to follow suit and be unethical just because “everyone else does it”. Of course this same principal of staying on the side of right and seeking the position of moral high ground whenever and wherever possible is to be the goal of all, not just journalists. There could be volumes written on these and many other issues relating to journalism, but let me close with this thought;
Is a truth spoken by a person of lowly estate any less the truth due to his or her social status? Is a lie spoken by a person of high estate any less a lie? Are they both not still truth and lie respectively, regardless of the messenger?
And so, regardless of if society says at a given time that to be a journalist is to be a teller of truth, or lies, it is still our responsibility to overcome this, by always seeking out and then telling the truth to the best of our ability. I dare say this is a human responsibility, and is a question of both morals and ethics, personal responsibility and character but… for the moment, I digress.
Editor-in-Chief and Director of Art & Technology