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Book review: Stephen Ward on Global Media Ethics: Problems and Perspectives
Global media ethics is about the responsibilities of news media that is now global. Compared to traditional ethics, global media ethics are ment to strech over borders and cultures to provide a world-wide guidelines in a world where social media and the internet in general has forced us to rework the rules. With social media and the internet everyone can become a home-grown journalist and publish Facebook, Twitter and blogs. For traditional journalism internet has given access to almost unlimited amount of fast growing information.
With the huge amount of new and fast information all journalism has become global and has developed new problems that could've been ignored for example in traditional print press. When publishing in the internet and social media you effectively remove country borders and risk ethnic and cultural tensions that could progress from just words to harsh actions (such as the publication of Mohammed cartoons in a Danish newspaper).
The book combines texts and thoughts from multiple authors and provides visions from "both sides of the fence" and is divided in four parts. The parts of the book reflect the many problems and perspectives of global media ethics.
- Part I introduce worldwide media ethics and argues on the continuing relevance of ethics for global media and reporting of international conflicts
- Part II analyzes ethics in different regions like the Arab mass media and South African media
- Part II looks in to the change global media ethics might have in the coverage of global issues.
- Part IV addresses the philosophical questions raised by the previous parts
Part I Media Ethics Worldwide (chapters 1 & 3)
The first chapter Why Media Ethics Still Matters brings up fundamental phenomenons and truths about this new world media. The chapters aim to bring out the need for media ethics in a age where people don't trust media anymore. Media is a practice that is meant to be aimed at the truth. The author brings up virtues for media-related practices in the new digital era, such as accuracy, sincerity and care. The argument by the author is that the virtues - however specified - are the types of things we should be trying to furmulate when developing a perspective on the conditions in journalism. What is needed and must be remembered is that media should aim at turth and make enough investigative investments to achieve it. However because ethics are in concern, there is no definite rulebook that you could point at to live by.
Third chapter, The role of journalist in reporting international conflicts, dives in to how we can define the journalists role in reporting of conflicts. Reporting on wars and conflicts is seen as a dream for young journalists and it maintains a certain romanticism about it. The abundance of stories and incidents provide a almost endless supply of stories. The authors approach the subject through different conflicts like the second Gulf War and various war crimes around the world. In the ethical point of view, how should we see these people who endanger themselves to bring out the "truth" to the world? Are they heroes, can they maintain neutrality and how should we look at ideas of patriotism and attachement. As a conclusion the author points out that journalists reportint conflicts face continuous ethical challenges on daily basis. How to balance around privacy, confidentiality, codes of conduct, professionalism and objectivity.
Review by Rita M