The journalists or news reporters have the responsibility of giving out news to the public so that the public can be aware of some issues. The news given out in most cases is always taken by the public as being true and where the appropriate measures have to be taken; these measures are taken in accordance to the news given out. Therefore, it is always best for the journalists to be ethical and present the news in an accurate manner without regard for ratings or politics in order to avoid being deceptive. This is always for the good of the larger society since it plays a role in ensuring that people are not misled in order for them to avoid taking wrong measures that can be dangerous and bring in much harm.
Importance of being ethical in news reporting
According to Ward (2009), there can be no reducing of ethical questions to the issues of “etiquette, prudence, financial gain, or law” (Para 4). In the same way, the issues regarding the ethics in journalism can not be reduced to issues concerning what is carried commonly or etiquette, the self-interest of the journalist or prudence, what can bring in profits, or law.
Just in the same way as any other professional, the journalists are supposed to conduct themselves in a manner that is in line with the general ethical principles. These general principles include; telling the truth, evading any harm, acting in the in a manner that is for the good of the society and keeping promises. More so, just in the same manner as any other professional in whatever the field, the journalists are supposed to employ the skills they have to ensure the fulfillment of the social roles and meeting the expectations of the society. According to Ward (2009), the social role of the journalists at other times is understood to spring from a contract (social) that is found between the society and journalism. There is granting of freedom to the journalist that is protected by the constitution in order to boost the social good in most of the countries in the West. Ward (2009) observes that, even though journalism may not have a special social role, these professionals may face ethical responsibilities. This is for the reason that the news they give out has an impact on both individuals and groups on which the news is about as well as the society they are serving.
In considering the case presented by Silliman (2007), “Catchy title or needless deception”, in which a pharmaceutical company wants to use a catchy title to find the market for the cancer drug, Dean Stephenson, a journalist, does not agree with this title. This title can be so much misleading since it indicates that the drug is going to be a solution to the problem of cancer – “The answer to cancer” and yet the drug has not been proved to be fully effective and is even dangerous, especially to the pregnant women. Such a title gives people hope that is not even real. Stephenson is trying to be ethical in not allowing using the catchy title for self interest and gain in order to save the society that can be misled. As a professional who observes the journalism ethics, a journalist should act in the interest of the public.
It is not ethical to use deception to achieve self gain and high rating by a news reporter by using a catchy title in the news. This can bring harm to the society by it getting a wrong idea. The case presented represents an issue of cancer treatment which the society wants to realize. However, by a news reporter such as Deana Stephenson agreeing to use deception by presenting a catchy title would bring danger to society since the issue of cancer treatment concerns people’s lives in the society. People would stay with false hope. Changing the title to the one that is not misleading is acting in an ethical manner and this is in accordance with the good of the public.