5th August 2013
By Alexandre Leclercq

Ethical Journalism in Action: Combating Bias and Discrimination

Stefanie Chernow

In a world of prejudice and bias, perhaps the greatest challenge for journalists is to live up to the task of fair and balanced reporting. Fairness is never guaranteed, but journalists need to avoid blatant bias and beware of allowing people and groups with an axe to grind to get away with unfair discrimination. It’s not easy, but some noteworthy individuals, journalism support groups and news organisations are doing their best to create more diverse newsrooms and to promote tolerance in journalism. Here are some examples this week:

The Society of Professional Journalists gave its annual First Amendment Award to the Human Rights Defense Center. The award recognises individuals and groups for their exceptional efforts to preserve and strengthen freedom of speech. The Human Rights Defense Center received the award for exemplary work which has focused attention on incarcerated individuals and ensuring the government is transparent and accountable for their treatment of prisoners. Excellent work; good for society and hard facts that are useful for journalists.

The European Journalism Centre recently published tips on how the press can accurately report on migration stories without misleading the public or promoting unfair and negative portrayal of migrants that may lead to discrimination. Here are some great pointers to assist in better storytelling. The article also drives home the concept that journalism needs to be held accountable for how it portrays different groups in society, especially those who are vulnerable to discrimination.

While women are a notable minority in the ranks of news executives in media today, there is hope this trend is starting to change for a new generation. Poynter recently reported that more women are holding leadership roles in university newspapers. “Most of our competitive reporting positions are also held by females,” says Brittany Horn, editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian at Penn State. “This shift could explain why we’re seeing so many female editors. I also think that a lot of women refuse to not be taken seriously anymore, especially in higher level beats, which gives a great jumping off point for leadership positions.”

Do you know of any individuals or organisations who are demonstrating outstanding work in ethical journalism? Let us know by joining the conversation on the EJN LinkedIn group or by writing to Stefanie Chernow at [email protected].

Photo Credit: Silke Remmery – Newspaper (CC BY 2.0)