Media Social responsibility and core Journalistic values

  • Media social responsibility and core journalistic values are two interlinked concepts, both set a certain standards of ethical journalism for the media. Both suggests that media should work for the benefits of society and for public interests. They assign some duties to media and at the same time they work for the protection of journalist rights. As we are told that social responsibility is an ethical framework for everyone to work or act for the betterment of society. As a media person he is assigned with journalistic ethical framework called core journalistic values. Social responsibility theory helped a lot in creating journalistic values such as accuracy, truth, credibility, impartiality, independence and accountability among journalists.As we knew that this theory was created to control the problems created by libertarian theory of the press. During libertarian press theory the excessive freedom to publish whatever journalists like create a lot of social issues. Yellow journalism, sensationalist practices and character assassination were on the peak in those days. Therefore to counter all these vices,   Hutchins Commission introduced the theory of social responsibility with the slogan of   free and responsible press. The theory was not against the freedom of press rather it introduced a new term for journalism, a responsible and free press for the society.  The press was free to perform the functions freely but with the sense of responsibility. The right to criticize government or any institution was not being restricted. The freedom was allowed to exercise with responsibility. In simple words we can say that the social responsibility theory create the sense of self-regulation among journalists and warn them to be in limit of responsibility rather government will control you.

    Social responsibility theory is also known as theory of media ethics, its encouraged journalistic associations to formulate code of ethics for journalists. The focus of this theory was to create moral and social responsibility among journalists and members of the society. Ethics are the moral principles for every person that are responsible for his behaviour and actions. Ethics shape the thinking, way of living, the way we behave and our concepts of right and wrong. So ethics are the driving force of a person to set certain standards of values and principles. The code of ethics in media create a sense of ethical journalism such as accuracy, objectivity, balance, credibility and accountability. Today the journalistic values are more important than ever before because the reliance of people on media has never been as much as today is. Nobody even think of living without media and there is everywhere media saturation so the need of hour is to protect the integrity of journalism from the rabid number of fake news, propaganda, sensationalism, and misinformation and hate speech.  So for all this ethical journalistic values are essential.  After spreading the fake news and unethical tactics through journalism people still think that there right to freedom would be not harmed than they are living in utopian world because freedom of speech and ethical journalism are aligned. Accuracy is one of the first and foremost value in journalistic code and ethics, a media person and organization is being judged on the basis of accuracy and truth in the news. Accuracy in news is the well sourced news, supported by the facts not based on rumours and speculation. In Pakistan media in the race of being first to break the news usually break fake and inaccurate news, they should be careful. If news is not confirmed then hold fire, in the race of being first they lose the reliability and trustworthiness. Accuracy comes ahead of speed. Transparency is very important before declaring the news the person who is going to break the news must told audience what he know and what he do not know, this builds up the trust level of the audience on you and on your channel. In newspaper many times they mention that this story is under developing. In accuracy sourcing is very important. It is important to have first-hand information about the news, blindly following others create problems, so having own source is essential in journalism. Another important think in this regard is the creditability of the source, confirmation of the news is very important because it can damage your credibility, may be the information he or she gives you is not accurate so examine the facts and motives of those offering you the news. Reading news from a website is another thing and quoting it as a source is different, may be it seems convincing and factual to you but it does mean it is true. Coping something from a website or from an article is risky and unethical especially if you reproduce it as it as your story in newspaper or article. In Pakistan it is so common, columnists like Fareed Zakaria, Nazir Naji are being caught doing this. Nazir Naji is blamed by Jafar Hussain and Salman Massod for coping their columns. Such things are very dangerous for journalism. It is okay to take ideas or research based information from others but credit should be given to them. Nowadays Photoshop images are very common on social media so taking them as source is foolishness. Editing of videos is common so be careful about it that what you watch or hear may be a part of digital manipulation. Verification of the facts is important. Protecting the source is good but try to have as much information as you can about the news from the anonymous source, especially when he or she is making serious allegations so for making it sure that his or her information is not misleading the public try to take his or her voice over, or the blurred images of the source. During Dawn leaks issue here in Pakistan Cyril Alameda protected his source but his editor was sure about the accuracy of the news so he took stand and publish the news and even after government pressure he did not take back the news. In today’s media economy accuracy and verification of the news is important not just to ensure journalistic values but to ensure financial success as well because if your news prove fake you have to face defamation lawsuit.. Independence is another very important journalism value, however in today’s world we seldom find it in journalism.  Mark Twin once said that “it is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them”   independence does not mean free of government influence, it includes free from all influences including owners and advertisers.  It is a fact that media has to surrender down before powerful people if they want to earn for example in the western media as well as in Pakistan media never publish or cover such a huge campaigns against capitalists as they do against politicians and other celebrities. They never do this because their main advertiser and financier are capitalists so for business purposes media has to compromise on ethics. Many people believe that media corporations are the part of propaganda techniques, they do not publish or telecast any news against the interests of their financier, for this they even compromise on public interests. For example many people questioned that why Fox News supported Trump in the general election despite of the fact he was not that much popular among people, many have different answers for this question but the more accurate was profit because they knew it that people love controversy more than facts so the ratings of Fox Cable was higher than CNN or MSNBC. And the Fox is News cares only about money making at that time and support him. In the same way other media corporations does for their own benefits and ignores journalistic values. In his famous book “Manufacturing Consent” Noam Chomsky discussed about media economy and he described 5 media filters these are ownership, advertisers, sourcing, flak and anti-communist factor. So for media houses it is impossible to become fully independence. But it does not mean that every media corporation does the same some of them make it clear to those financier who support them that their support is not acceptable on the cost of influence over editorial policy. Independent media houses make it clear to the advertisers that their advertising mean they buy some space on TV or in the newspapers for the commercial message not the right to have influence over media policy. Impartiality means balance and fair reporting, not being prejudiced and biased against anyone. In every professional not only in journalism unbiased views are rare to found because everyone have their own liking, disliking, priorities and views. They cannot ignore their own liking or disliking while covering the news. For example in Pakistan someone asked from Irfan Sadiqui about his biasness regarding PMLN (the question were asked before he joined PMLN) he replied something like this that journalist are human beings so they have their own likes and dislikes which they cannot ignore while writing so in the same way I have my own political liking and disliking to whom I cannot ignore so I accept I am biased. But having personal opinion and become mouth piece of different political parties and people is totally different. It is against the journalistic values to become mouth piece of others and spreading propaganda news and twisting the news in their favour is unethical and the not the true form of journalism. Impartiality is the balance coverage of issues, reflection of reality in opinions, provide equal opportunity to all participants. Impartiality is not taking side of any one. Impartiality is appreciable but false balance is not. False balance, when media person gives equal opportunity to both side even the factual evidence are one sided. Credibility is the heart of journalism, as media is expanding all over the over in form of digital media and social media the question of its credibility arises the most. The challenges for journalism are more than before. In America Trump says that media is fake by saying this he is challenging the credibility of media, although he himself is not a credible man but being American President when he says this many people become doubtful about the credibility of media. Being credible mean being accurate, impartial, objective and independent all the journalistic values makes the content, the journalist and the media house who publish or telecast the news credible. Mishal Pakistan Pvt Limitted is established in Pakistan to check the credibility of media channels and their shows. That is also a fact that in Pakistan everyone who create sensationalism and hierarchy among audience is considered credible, this is because of media illiteracy in Pakistan. Mubasahar Luqman and Amir Liaquat type people shows have more ratings than many other credible journalists.The man who was behind the concept of objectivity was Walter Lippmann who introduced it to counter the excessive use of yellow journalism. Lippmann call journalists to use objectivity while breaking the news or when you gather data about the news. But despite of Lippmann proposal the term was not used in journalistic society until 20 century. Many people believe that impartiality and objectivity are both the same but they are not same. Impartiality is not taking side of any one and providing equal opportunity to both sides rather objectivity is to be on the side of facts without bias. To better understand this imagine that you are setting with two persons and they are arguing about the nature of earth one is saying it is round and the other is saying it is not. If you are impartial you would give equal importance to both arguments but if objective then you would support that one who said it is round. Objectivity is helpful for audience to seek the truth from news on the base of facts of figure the news provide to them.