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Code of Ethics Confusion.

by on October 26, 2016

Our recent assignment provoked a lot of questions for me and my values as a journalist. The response I wrote this week revolved around three different code of ethics from three different countries, America, Britain and Belgium. Before I began the task assigned I presumed the assignment would help clarify a lot of ethics questions I’ve had in the past as the codes illustrate the rules and regulations specifically by country and circumstance

However, reading the codes of conduct for journalists, editors and photographers it actually just created an endless list of queries and an array of confusion for me. While I agreed with most of the laws readings the codes of ethics such as receiving gifts or accepting payments, my cynical self couldn’t help confronting the fact that we as journalists do not stick to this.

Reading through the British code of conduct caused the most shocking reaction for me. I am British myself, and whilst I am aware the British press, media and journalists take a very different approach in certain circumstance to the Americans, I was confused at the level of hypocrisy and contradictory comments in the codes.

While I understand that the amount of cases and journalists that don’t abide by the codes of conduct are a minority compared to the amount of stories published each day that stand entirely by the rules, it still seems wrong for the code of conduct to be ignored so significantly.

One example that I’d like to use is the use of filming or recording devices and using them to collect information without the consent or awareness of individuals. After recording this information many British journalists have gone ahead and published this information, deeming it as required public knowledge. The example that springs to mind is the huge ordeal regarding the phone hacking.

Even though it clearly states that this contradicts the code of conducts provided for journalists, it still happens. So what is the real use of these codes of conduct? Should there be a more significant punishment for journalists when they don’t abide by them? How do we create regulations that journalists feel they can still fulfill their job while sticking to codes of conduct that ensure we are working ethically?


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