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Trust in the Press is essential in an ever changing society. Not only must the Press be trusted but it must be believed and must behave in an ethical manner. But what constitutes an ethical manner? Laws might be set

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Introduction

"Trust in the Press is essential in an ever changing society. Not only must the Press be trusted but it must be believed and must behave in an ethical manner. But what constitutes "an ethical manner"? Laws might be set to achieve certain outcomes and may not necessarily be ethical. What is legal and demanded by law may not be considered ethical from a journalistic point of view. With respect to your personal point of view of the above, discuss what you believe journalists have to do to maintain the trust and respect of the public. The historian Thomas Babington Macaulay introduced the notion of the media as the Fourth Estate; the role of a watchdog that checks on abuses of power by government and professionals.1 Lord Hutchinson, QC defence council for the ABC Case regarding the Official Secrets Act 1989, said it is the task of the press to examine, probe, question and find out if there are mistakes to embarrass the government.2 With such a role of responsibility, it is vital that the public trust what the press tell them. Codes and laws are in place to make sure journalists act as a collective conscience.3 In practice this is difficult as individual consciences come into play, along with the obstacles of time, money and competition that face journalists in their profession. ...read more.

Middle

When it becomes a matter of what the public are interested in, rather than what they need to know, ethical manners begin to vary between journalists and other factors come into the equation. The media is to a certain extent controlled by the people who own the newspapers, radio stations and television companies. They pay the journalist's salary and they ultimately make the decisions. A senior executive of News International said: "If an editor went to Murdoch and said that he had carefully examined the PCC code of conduct on chequebook journalism and had come to the conclusion that to pay to get a story would be a breach of the code and, therefore, he hadn't done it, he would be fired."8 This shows that a journalist's so-called ethical behaviour is not always their own. However the journalist can decide who they work for. If I was asked to pay for stories that revealed matters that I did not consider of public interest, then I would refuse and work for a different organisation. This is, of course easier said than done and when one organisation is willing to pay for a story, others follow suit to keep up with competition. ...read more.

Conclusion

They knew McCarthy's claims were false but the journalistic laws meant they were unable to investigate his statements and tell the public the truth. More recently, the Washington Post, New York Times and New Republic all apologised to their readers for not being sceptical when reporting White House claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.14 Part of being a journalist is to face adversity and going against a law or code is sometimes the only way to tell the public the truth, but truth is what ultimately gains their trust and respect. Laws and codes are necessary to provide a benchmark for journalists to work from and maintain professionalism. Without them some journalists would lose sight of what fundamental principles they need to follow in order to behave responsibly. There are times when a journalist's own instinct and ethical manner will maintain respect and trust of the public better than the codes. There are also instances when pressure, time and money prevent a journalist from maintaining those codes. Whatever the circumstances, the one rule that should be constant is that journalists are the eyes and ears of the public; their trust and respect should always take precedence. ...read more.

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