Media ethics in focus

Ethical standards for media practitioners are among our key themes this issue, amid two events that shook the world in the last fortnight – the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 in the Ukraine and the exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. When media organizations compete against one another in a frenzy to satisfy the public’s desire to quickly know what is happening in the world, some practice standards – information verification, for instance – may be overlooked. A case in point would be why the media reportage on MH-17 was wrong at first on the number of AIDS researchers – supposedly 100 – who were on the plane.  Why did a journalist who went through some luggage items while covering the crash site feel compelled to apologize for his “error of judgment”?

Image: “A race to complete a newspaper front page” by George kelly on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) license.

Image: “A race to complete a newspaper front page” by George Kelly on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) license.

By what ethical standards should media, reporters and editors included, hold themselves accountable to?  While it may be difficult to assemble all these into one Code of Ethics for the Media, some organizations have attempted to list down principles that can be of help to those who would like some guidance on how to avoid ethical pitfalls and related matters. Here’s a sample: Erin Brenner lists 11 standards for ethical editors, the Dartcenter shows media persons covering tragedies how to protect victims and themselves, and Unicef provides guidelines on reporting on children and young people.

Here’s the rest of our roundup this issue:

 

Ditto is a fortnightly selection of stories on publishing, media, communications, and topics that concern editorial professionals from the most credible sources on the Web. We hope to educate young professional writers and editors about industry standards, breakthroughs, and trends, among other things. Usually, you’ll find news and commentaries in here, but from time to time, we also feature tweets, visuals, games, freebies, and other fun but useful stuff that caught our eye.

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