My final project in this graduate program nudged me to consider the issue of advocacy journalism, especially with the ongoing uproar of the Presidential primaries. When the media holds such sway, and the public hold such deep distrust for the media as a reliable source of information, but yet respond so fervently to the emotional appeals and shock value provided by the media, where is the voice of reason to be found?
The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics offers some key pointers to professional communicators:
- Seek Truth and Report It. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- Minimize Harm. Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
- Act Independently. The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
- Be Accountable and Transparent. Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
Advocacy journalism demands that we take a stand. It demands that we stay willing to thoughtfully explore other ideas, beliefs and arguments while respectfully articulating our own. Advocacy journalism asks us to provide more in-depth information than sound bites, to hold deeper principles than those of playing to a mob mentality for the sake of ratings. It asks us to be principled.