“Present the norm of healing is to medicine,

“Present anessay to show that you appreciate the issues involved in media ethics.

Examinethese issues from the social, cultural, and professional perspective. Coverevery aspect of ethical issue and discuss it, applying it to real lifesituation.”  As withprofessional ethics as a whole, media ethics is divided into three parts:metaethics, normative ethics, and descriptive ethics. Metaethics addresses thevalidity of theories, the nature of good and evil in media programming, thequestion of universals, problems of relativism, and the rationale for moralityin a secular age. Normative ethics fuses practice with principles. It concernsthe best ways for professionals to lead their lives and the standards to bepromoted. Normative ethics concentrates on the justice or injustice ofsocieties and institutions. Descriptive ethics uses social sciencemethodologies to report on how ethical decision-making actually works injournalism, advertising, public relations, and entertainment.

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Normative ethicshas received the most attention in media ethics, but for media ethics toflourish, research and teaching need to be strong on all three levels.The centralquestion of this paper presentation is whether the media can contribute to highquality social dialogue. The prospects for resolving that question positivelyin the “sound and fury” depend on recovering the idea of truth.

At present thenews media are lurching along from one crisis to another with an empty centre.We need to articulate a believable concept of truth as communication’s masterprinciple. As the norm of healing is to medicine, justice to politics, criticalthinking to education, craftsmanship to engineering, and stewardship tobusiness, so truth-telling is the news profession’s occupational norm. Truth-tellingis the ethical framework that fundamentally reorders the media’s professionalculture and enables them to enrich social dialogue rather than undermine it.  Historically themainstream press has defined itself in terms of an objectivist worldview. Centredon human rationality and armed with the scientific method, the facts in newshave been said to mirror reality.

The aim has been true and incontrovertibleaccounts of a domain separate from human consciousness. In Bertrand Russell’sformula, “truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief andfact” (Russell, 1912, p. 121). In the received view, truth is defined inelementary epistemological terms as accurate representation. News correspondsto context-free neutral algorithms, and ethics is equated with impartiality.  The attacks onthis misguided view of human knowledge had already originated in GiambattistaVico’s fantasia and Wilhelm Dilthey’s verstehen in the counter-Enlightenment ofthe 18th century. They have continued with hermeneutics, critical theory in theFrankfurt School, American pragmatism, Wittgenstein’s linguistic philosophy,Gramsci, and in their own way, Lyotard’s denial of master narratives andDerrida’s sliding signifiers; until the anti-foundationalism of our own day indicatesa crisis in correspondence views of truth. Institutional structures remainEnlightenment-driven, but in principle the tide has turned currently towardrestricting objectivism to the territory of mathematics, physics, and thenatural sciences.

In reporting, objectivity has become increasinglycontroversial as the working press’ professional standard, though it willremain entrenched in our ordinary practices of news production anddissemination until an alternative mission for the press is convincinglyformulated. The demise ofcorrespondence views of truth has created a predicament for the notion of truthaltogether. However, instead of appealing to coherence versions or abandoningthe concept, truth needs to be relocated in the moral sphere. Truth is aproblem of axiology rather than epistemology.

With the dominant scheme nolonger tenable, truth should become the province of ethicists who canreconstruct it as the news media’s contribution to social dialogue.  When truth isarticulated in terms of a moral framework, we can mold its richly texturedmeaning around the Hebrew emeth (trustworthy, genuine, dependable, authentic),the Greek aletheia (openness, disclosure). In Serbo-Croatian the true isjustified as with plumbline in carpentry. In the powerful wheel imagery of theBuddhist tradition, truth is the immovable axle. The Truth and ReconciliationCommission in South Africa presumes that sufferings from apartheid can behealed through truthful testimony. In Ghandhi’s “satyagrapha,” the power oftruth through the human spirit eventually wins over force (cf. Jensen, 2000, p.6).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics contends correctly that a truthful accountlays hold of the context, motives, and presuppositions involved (Bonhoeffer,1955, ch. 5).  Telling the truthdepends on the quality of discernment so that penultimates do not gainultimacy. Truth means, in other words, to strike gold, to get at “the core, theessence, the nub, the heart of the matter” (Pippert, 1989, p. 11).

For HenryDavid Thoreau – though addressing a different issue – when we are truthful, weattempt to “drive life into a corner and¼if it proves to be mean, why then toget the genuine meanness out of it and publish its meanness to the world; or ifit were sublime, to know it by personal experience and be able to give a trueaccount of the encounter” (1975: 94). For the former secretary general of theUnited Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, “the most dangerous of all moral dilemmas iswhen we are obliged to conceal truth in order to help the truth be victorious”(Jensen, 2000, p. 7). In the Talmud, the liar’s punishment is that no onebelieves him. The demise ofcorrespondence views of truth has created a predicament for the notion of truthaltogether.

However, instead of appealing to coherence versions or abandoningthe concept, truth needs to be relocated in the moral sphere. Truth is aproblem of axiology rather than epistemology. With the dominant scheme nolonger tenable, truth should become the province of ethicists who can reconstructit as the news media’s contribution to social dialogue.    Media are treatedas a separate cultural reality.

This book presents, in an accessible form, thenew directions that approach the interaction of media and religion from acultural perspective, and illustrates these new directions by a number ofinternational and intercultural case studies and explorations. Looking at howglobal media are constructing cultural forms, structures and processes, theauthors show how these have become the life out of which individual and socialmeaning is created and practiced. Examining how individuals create religiousmeaning by interacting with media of various kinds, crossing boundaries oftraditional religious cultures and contemporary media cultures, this book revealshow Christian institutions are also defined in the process of living culturallywithin their broader media context. It’s important formedia practitioners to understand media ethics so that they can go out in theworld and practice their profession in such a way that they are a livingexample that media ethics are real and meaningful,” Unfortunately,media organizations in the country have seemingly alignedthemselves alonginterest lines. A typical case is a recent news report byone of theadjudged reputable media organizations in the country on theAbia GovernorshipElection Petition. William G. Mathor,a notable sociologist, once observed that the doctoringof news by newsmenis repugnant .The current trend in the country issimilar to whatobtained during the “Libertarian Age” where a publicofficer hardlyexpects a fair deal from an opposition news organ.

Unfortunately,media organizations in the country have seemingly alignedthemselves alonginterest lines. A typical case is a recent news report byone of theadjudged reputable media organizations in the country on theAbia GovernorshipElection Petition. Newsmen, thoughhuman beings, are strongly expected to separate themselvesfrom news reports.In the report entitled “ABIA Gov. election petition:Court of Appealjudgment dims PDP’s hope “, the author of the reportglaringly andconvincingly demonstrated partiality. It is interesting whennewsmendemonstrate the ability to separate news from comments; get factsof a story andpresent same with as much detachment as possible, especiallywhen handling acritical issue such as an election petition. It is anincontrovertible fact in news reporting that the headline alwaysagree with thebody of the story.

But in this instance, the author justtook off andrambled through the story and finally landed in a destinationthat has no linkwith the starting point. The story borderson the recent  dismissal of twoappeals  filed by thePeoples DemocraticParty (PDP) in Abia State against the governorshipcandidate of theAll Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the Aprilgeneral elections,Dr. Alex Otti, and his party by the Court of Appeal,sitting in Owerri,Imo State.

 It will berecalled that the appeals originated from a decision of the AbiaState GovernorshipElection Petition Tribunal, sitting in Umuahia, to takeall thepreliminary objections, filed by the litigants, along with thejudgment of thesubstantive petition. But dissatisfiedwith the tribunal’s decision, the party headed for theCourt of Appeal,urging it to set aside the decision of the tribunal andcompel it todeliver ruling on the pending motions. So the above mentioned incident is as explainingthe real life situation as regards ethical issues in journalism. This paperpresentation has gone through the social, cultural and professional perspectiveon the issue of ethics in journalism. 

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