CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the Study

Journalism is a term that has attracted debates as to whether it is a profession or not. Journalism can be classified as one of the core professions in Nigeria for more than an average mass communication student; it has being in existences for decades in which its role cannot be undermined with key code of ethics guiding its existences.

According to the Society of Professional Journalist: Code of Ethics is a statement of abiding principles supported by additional explanations and position papers that address changing journalistic practices. It is not a set of rules, rather a guide that encourages all who engage in journalism to take responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of medium. The code should be read as a whole; individual principles should not be taken out of context. It is not, nor can it be under the First Amendment, legally enforceable.

According to Odunewu, (2000) submits that journalism is a profession because journalists perform critical functions in the society such that any “journalist that wants to excel must adhere to certain standards of behaviour. Also, there are core values such as respect for truth, accuracy, independence, fairness, balance, which a journalist must uphold”. Journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest. The professional norms of good journalism include, in particular, the following; truthfulness, objectivity, neutrality and detachment. Kempf, (2007)

The foundation of ethical journalism is based on four principles which are seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, be accountable and transparent. Journalism has evolved since inception in line with technological growth (advent of computer and its assisted tools, the advent of the internet). This evolution has assisted in more ways than one in journalism as a profession from the arrival of computers which made the profession a lot easier to the coming of the internet which has not only made journalism take a new turn but the entire world as a whole. The traditional media; newspaper, radio and television have always been the mode of information transmission after its contents must have been thoroughly scrutinized in line with the code of ethic of journalism before the internet(online media, blogs, social media) came into lime light. (Spg, 2014).

            Ethics is a moral concept. There is a consensus among philosophers that ethics is synonymous with morality and both involve human action (conduct). The word ‘ethics’ comes from a Greek word ‘ethos’ which means character, while the word ‘morals’ comes from the Latin word ‘moralism’ which means custom or manner. According to Tschudin (1992) “both words (ethics and morals) means custom, i.e. fundamental ways of conduct which are not only customary, but also right. Frankena and Granrose (1974) explain that the word ‘ethics ‘Stands for a branch of philosophy or philosophical thinking about morality and its problem. Ethics in journalism.

Media ethics simply means the rules and regulation guiding the media organization. It can be both print and broadcast. There five principles guiding the media ethics are: Truth and accuracy journalist always have to be accurate with their news in order not to cause defamation in any form and if the truth cannot be totally told. Fairness and impartiality there is always two sides to a story. Journalist should always try to report both sides of a story in order to make the new balanced.

            However, humanity of the pen of the journalist is very important in the media. It can either praise you or destroy you. As journalist, you should not use this power to injure other people. If you do so, you will face the penalty. Accountability every journalist is accountable for whatever he or she writes. Either good or bad and must take glory or blame for their actions.

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