Keeping the ethical flame alive
A crisis has engulfed media in Europe and America, inflicting profound changes on journalism. A generation of owners is slashing budgets, gutting newsrooms and closing foreign bureaux, shrinking not only editorial departments but sections and stories. Many of them believe that ethical journalism and high standards are old fashioned notions long overtaken by financial and commercial objectives. Journalists need help and support to stand up to the pressures from those who want them to be servants of big business or of political masters. The remarkable thing is that in every country and under every system, hundreds of thousands of journalists try to work to an ethical code, sometimes poorly articulated or understood, but based on a feeling that it is necessary to keep watch on those in power, to inform citizens and to act in the public interest. Newsrooms and media are complex organisations that depend on teamwork among professionals. It is hardly possible for one journalist to be ‘ethical’ on their own without engaging with colleagues. Journalists who do not want to be mouthpieces for owners or political dogma, or other vested interests need the support of their colleagues. In particular, they need the collective support that is provided by trade unions of journalists. The Ethical Journalism Initiative outlined in this book provides support for journalists who are keeping an ethical flame alive in the profession. In these pages are many warnings about the dangers. There is also encouragement for those who are ready to stand up for journalism and confirmation, in the age of convergence of traditional and new media, that the act of journalism as a public good will not survive on any platform without commitment to ethics and values. Jim Boumelha President, International Federation of Journalists
The book provides a detailed background to the origins of the Ethical Journalism Initiative, the precursor to the Ethical Journalism Network, and explores the ethical traditions that underpin the work of journalists and media today. It looks at various aspects of ethical responsibility in the context of contemporary journalism.