Media and Ethics
Media ethics is concerned about both freedom and independence of media, on one hand, and using this freedom and independence responsibly, on the other hand. In this sense, media ethics stress journalists to use their freedom responsibly and make them accountable for the consequences of their actions on others. Media plays a very important role in disseminating information in our society through the means of broadcasting. Information and ideas are able to reach and penetrate the public through broadcasted media such as television, radio, internet, and etc. However, there are restriction and limitation pertaining to the amount of truth that can be implemented and that is how censorship policy comes about. So what is censorship policy? Censorship policies are policies that are created to filter the content in media that can be considered as sensitive, harmful, inappropriate and even malicious. On the other hand, there is freedom of expression but what exactly is freedom of expression? Based on Google, the meaning of freedom expression is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation, or both. That is only providing if the speech or act does not cause conflict or pose any threat to the public's interests. Freedom of expression also acts as a channel that allows the public to voice their opinions and views.
Based on my understanding in Broadcasting Act 1988, I've to disagree with the statement because freedom of expression and censorship policy are both essential to a country's development and growth. Censorship policy is a necessity to media because contents that are published through the media must always be checked and filtered in order to prevent harmful and misleading contents to reach the public. Examples are sex-related scenes, violence and gore scenes, and some to the extent of causing racial controversy among the people. It is true that the contents found in media are not 100% true and authentic; However if too much truth and info are exposed to the public, then how certain are we that the public are ready to accept all the facts?
Secondly, freedom of expression is essential for a democratic country to grow and develop succeeding without the abuse of power. Freedom of expression also allows different views and opinions to be voiced out to the public and a country. In addition, freedom of expression has many beneficial effects to society. Freedom of expression also opens opportunity for citizens to take part in decision making of the country such as the rights to vote. Furthermore, citizens can voice out their thoughts and opinion freely without being judged. We refer to freedom of expression rather than freedom of speech because it is more accurately conveyed that it does not have to be words that is said but by the acts that we did.
However, freedom of expression may cause harm to others and if it is not controlled properly, libel and slander might occur and conflict will happen. A good example will be the case of Wee Meng Chee aka Namewee that has caused a racial controversy by putting a video of our national anthem with racial slur in it. So this is why freedom of expression should be controlled even though it is necessary for a democratic society. As we can see, freedom of expression and censorship policy synchronizes together and a democratic country could not grow with just one and without the other.
That boils up to the point, is all this restriction and limitation really necessary and needed? I will say it's very important to be able to balance both freedom of expression and censorship policy. We need to have strong moral values in order to be able to filter contents that are useful and contents that may be harmful and malicious. We the people of the country are actually the cause of all the conflict and controversy that has happened in our nation. As long as we are not educated with proper moral values and ethics, there will always be issues regarding censorship policy and freedom expression. There is a saying: "With great power, comes great responsibility". Based on that quote, I believe that both freedom of expression and censorship policy can be a very useful tool if we were to use it wisely but it can also be a very destructive weapon if we do not imply wisdom in using it.
There must be boundaries and limitation concerning freedom of expression because more and more individual are starting to rise up and make a stand by voicing out their opinion. It is a good thing that we are able to listen and share different views and opinion. If freedom of expression is used with the intent of helping others and bringing unity then those kinds of acts and speeches should not be blocked and restricted. A very good example pertaining to good use of freedom of expression is the issue of Martin Luther King. Quoting from his speech, he said that we should face hostility with peace. If the public can have a mature and rational thinking like Martin Luther King then freedom of expression can lead to a good thing.
The government should control the public from delivering hate speech but they shouldn't restrict and stop the public from expressing honest opinion or we as a nation would always be distorted and blinded with lies. The case of Irene Fernandez has sparked up a very sensitive issue among the public. Irene Fernandez published a report on the living conditions of the migrant workers entitled "Abuse, Torture and Dehumanized Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres" and she was detained and charged for maliciously publishing false news. Malaysia is recognized as a democratic country with variety of races, religion, and culture and Malaysia supports freedom of expression but the charge of Irene Fernandez has bring about confusion to the public. It is said that we have the freedom of expression but the arrest of Irene Fernandez has proven that we do not really have the freedom of expression rather it is just a cover up done by the government. We the people make the government so henceforth if we can grow to be a wise and developed society, then freedom of expression and censorship policy can be a channel for us to share beliefs and opinion without worrying that conflicts might spark.
Ethics of journalism
The ethics of journalism is one of the most well-defined branches of media ethics, primarily because it is frequently taught in schools of journalism. Journalistic ethics tend to dominate media ethics, sometimes almost to the exclusion of other areas. Topics covered by journalism ethics include:
· News manipulation. News can manipulate and be manipulated. Governments and corporations may attempt to manipulate news media; governments, for example, by censorship, and corporations by share ownership. The methods of manipulation are subtle and many. Manipulation may be voluntary or involuntary. Those being manipulated may not be aware of this.
· Truth may conflict with many other values.
· Public interest. Revelation of military secrets and other sensitive government information may be contrary to the public interest, even if it is true. However, public interest is not a term which is easy to define.
· Privacy. Salacious details of the lives of public figures are a central content element in many media. Publication is not necessarily justified simply because the information is true. Privacy is also a right, and one which conflicts with free speech.
· Fantasy. Fantasy is an element of entertainment, which is a legitimate goal of media content. Journalism may mix fantasy and truth, with resulting ethical dilemmas.
· Taste. Photo journalists who cover war and disasters confront situations which may shock the sensitivities of their audiences. For example, human remains are rarely screened. The ethical issue is how far one risk shocking an audience’s sensitivities in order to correctly should and fully report the truth.
· Conflict with the law. Journalistic ethics may conflict with the law over issues such as the protection of confidential news sources. There is also the question of the extent to which it is ethically acceptable to break the law in order to obtain news. For example, undercover reporters may be engaging in deception, trespass and similar torts and crimes.
Ethics of entertainment media
Issues in the ethics of entertainment media include:
· The depiction of violence and sex, and the presence of strong language. Ethical guidelines and legislation in this area are common and many media (e.g. film, computer games) are subject to ratings systems and supervision by agencies. An extensive guide to international systems of enforcement can be found under motion picture rating system.
· Product placement. An increasingly common marketing tactic is the placement of products in entertainment media. The producers of such media may be paid high sums to display branded products. The practice is controversial and largely unregulated. Detailed article: product placement.
· Stereotypes. Both advertising and entertainment media make heavy use of stereotypes. Stereotypes may negatively affect people's perceptions of themselves or promote socially undesirable behavior. The stereotypical portrayals of men, affluence and ethnic groups are examples of major areas of debate.
Media and democracy
In democratic countries, a special relationship exists between media and government. Although the freedom of the media may be constitutionally enshrined and have precise legal definition and enforcement, the exercise of that freedom by individual journalists is a matter of personal choice and ethics. Modern democratic government subsists in representation of millions by hundreds. For the representatives to be accountable, and for the process of government to be transparent, effective communication paths must exist to their constituents. Today these paths consist primarily of the mass media, to the extent that if press freedom disappeared, so would most political accountability. In this area, media ethics merges with issues of civil rights and politics. Issues include:
· Subversion of media independence by financial interests.
· Government monitoring of media for intelligence gathering against its own people.
Media integrity refers to the ability of a media outlet to serve the public interest and democratic process, making it resilient to institutional corruption within the media system,economy of influence, conflicting dependence and political clientelism. Media integrity encompasses following qualities of a media outlet:
· independence from private or political interests
· transparency about own financial interests
· commitment to journalism ethics and standards
· responsiveness to citizens
The 5 core principles which media should follow are:
1. Truth and accuracy :
Journalists always cannot guarantee “truth”, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give the all relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked.
Journalist must have independent voices; they should not act formally or informally or on behalf of special interest whether political, corporate, or cultural.
3. Fairness and impartiality;
The media should act as fairness and impartially such as balanced and no
obligation to present in every side in every piece. Object is always not possible .
As far as I am concerned apart from a normal common man journalist must have more humanity. Journalist should not do harm, the harm caused by the journalist is harm caused to society which is more dangerous. Whatever they publish or broadcast must be careful as it might hurt the sentiments of people.
A sure sign of professionalism and responsibility journalism is ability to hold their accountability. When they commit any error we must correct it and our expression of regret must be sincere not cynical.
Impartiality and objectivity in the media world:
As consumers of the media, the public has every right to assume that everything published by media source is true, unless noted. To be impartial is to be unbiased, fair and just. They are host of ethics issues that can arise in the world of professional media. But some of the most important issues are those concerning defamation, libel and slander. These three terms are often confused with each other. Libel and slander fall under defamation. Defamation is the false or unjustified injury of good reputation of another, as by slander or libel. In the media world reputation is extremely important. For some it is all they have going for them. When an individual’s reputation has been tarnished, the party that is responsible, if it is not the person him/her must answer to the law.
Responsibilities of media in democracy:
With regard to the responsibility of media in an efficient democratic set-up, there are some dos and don’ts that need to be followed. The responsibility is never on the positive side of achieving, but that also has the duties to control and check any degradation of the procedure and ceases the spreading the ill-effects.
DO’S for the media:
First let us discuss about the responsibility of media towards democracy-
1. Maintain transparency in Government:
This is the most important feature, as the political world can never be visualized in their factual manner by common man. It is only the media retains the power to reach the Government and its ministers and expose the realistic picture to the world.
2. Revealing the truth in the acceptable form without creating agitations:
Revealing truth is easier in comparison to expressing the same in a socially acceptable form. Especially in country like India, exposing the truth of the Government to the people is as challenging as a democratic set-up.
3. Help people in nourishing their rights:
Media definitely have the duty to help the citizens nourish their rights. On the same hand they need to check whether the citizens are exercising their rights in correct manner.
4. Expose and challenge both the consensus of government and its people:
Media has the toughest job to check both its citizens and government
And its citizens. They need to play the role of two-edge sword which needs to be handled with utmost caution.
5. Debate- encouragement and criticism to dig out loop holes:
Any democracy can give its best, when they can understand their strong and weak points. Media is the one which can open up the debate and welcome the appreciation and criticism to open up the loop holes and make the government to understand its significance.
6. Build a sense of patriotism within the citizens:
Media can have a positive radiance that could circulate a positive aura the amongst the masses who could drive out their energy in cleaning up the political sewer and save the nation from dooming down.
7. Find a free way out for the free press:
Free press can help a lot in maintaining the democratic set-up. With a flair for media to fly they can achieve the untouchable limits and help out the functioning of the democracy.
DON’T’S of media in democracy:
1. Twisting facts:
The information should be as it is, facts should not be deliberately twisted to create sensation.
2. Paid news:
Media should not get involved in creating news, media’s responsibility is to report news no to create.