Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Journalists Should Expose Unethical Practices of Others in the News Media

There it is in plain language, printed in black and white at the bottom of the Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics. The code caught my eye because I see so little of it happen.

Right under the heading of "be accountable," the code says journalists should "expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media."

How often have you seen that happen? Unless the criticism is being leveled at some high-profile ethical lapse being talked about in the national media I can't think of any examples. Wait, yes, I can think of two blogs (Chatter and The Turner Report) that sometimes point out breaches of ethics in local news but I don't think that is what the Code of Ethics is suggesting.

Local examples seem to largely go unnoticed, or unexposed. Is it because media outlets don't want to attack the competition? Is it because reporters and editors don't think the community or common reader/listener would care? Is it because most local media outlets do not have journalists who are members of SPJ? Or is it simply because there is not enough space in print or time on the air?

I don't have an answer for this one. And I'm not claiming that there is tons of bad journalism happening in southwest Missouri. However, there are ethical lapses that happen from time to time and those seem to go unnoticed among local media outlets. I'm just wondering aloud about why that happens. I'm also wondering if there is a reporter, editor or media outlet that will pick up on this particular line in the SPJ Code of Ethics and breathe some local life into it.

Area journalists, as well as media consumers, would all reap the benefits.


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