Global journalism ethics, then, can be seen as an extension of journalism ethics — to regard journalism’s “public” as the citizens of the world, and to interpret the ethical principles of objectivity, balance and independence in an international manner. Journalism ethics becomes more “cosmopolitan” in tone and perspective.
Components of global media ethics
The development of global journalism ethics has the following tasks.
New philosophical foundations for a global ethics, which include:
• global re-interpretation of the ethical role and aims of journalism
• global re-interpretation of existing journalism principles and standards, such as objectivity, balance and independence
• construction of new norms and “best practices” as guides for the practice of global journalism
More research into the state of journalism, amid globalization:
• studies of news media in various regions of world
• studies on the evolution and impact of globalization in news media, with a focus on ownership, technology and practice
• studies on the ethical standards of new media in different countries
• studies on news coverage of international problems and issues
Actions to implement and support global standards:
• application of this global perspective to re-define the coverage of international events and issues
• coalition-building among journalists and interested parties with the aim of writing a global code of ethics that has wide-spread acceptance
• initiatives to defend and enhance free and responsible news media, especially in areas where problems are the greatest.
How would a global ethics be different?
Philosophically, the distinct conceptual element of a global ethics can be summarized by three imperatives:
1. Act as global agents
Journalists should see themselves as agents of a global public sphere. The goal of their collective actions is a well-informed, diverse and tolerant global “info-sphere” that challenges the distortions of tyrants, the abuse of human rights and the manipulation of information by special interests.
2. Serve the citizens of the world
The global journalist’s primary loyalty is to the information needs of world citizens. Journalists should refuse to define themselves as attached primarily to factions, regions or even countries. Serving the public means serving more than one’s local readership or audience, or even the public of one’s country.
3. Promote non-parochial understandings
The global journalist frames issues broadly and uses a diversity of sources and perspectives to promote a nuanced understanding of issues from an international perspective. Journalism should work against a narrow ethnocentrism or patriotism. What do these three imperatives imply for specific standards of journalism, such as objectivity? Under global journalism ethics, objectivity becomes the ideal of informing impartially from an international stance. Objectivity in journalism has usually been understood as the duty to avoid bias toward groups within one’s own country. Global objectivity takes on the additional responsibility of allowing bias towards one’s country or culture as a whole to distort reports, especially reports on international issues.
Objective reports, to be accurate and balanced, must contain all relevant international sources and cross-cultural perspectives. In addition, global journalism asks journalists to be more conscious of how they frame the global public’s perspective on major stories, and how they set the international news agenda. The aim of global journalism should be more than helping the public sphere “go well” at home, as civic journalists say. The aim should be to facilitate rational deliberation in a global public sphere.
Global journalism ethics implies a firm journalistic response to inward-looking attitudes, such as extreme patriotism. It was disturbing to see how some news organizations during the Iraq War of 2003 so quickly shucked their peacetime commitments to independent, impartial reporting as soon as the drums of war started beating. Cosmopolitanism means that the primary ethical duty of a global journalism in times of conflict and uncertainty is not a patriotism of blind allegiance, or muted criticism. Public duty calls for independent, hard-edged news, along with investigations and analysis.
Problems and obstacles
Among advocates of global ethics, there is disagreement over whether ethicists need to identify “universal values” among all journalists, or humans. Do such universal values exist? What might they be? Recently, a growing group of ethicists have attempted to identify a common core of values in various places: in codes of journalism ethics, in international treaties on human rights, in anthropological studies of culture.
One view is that neither universal values nor universal consent is required for a plausible, global code. This view sometimes stems from a contractual or ‘constructionist” view of ethics. The constructionist does not believe that ethics depends on “finding” or “discovering”, through empirical means, a set of universal values that all rational people acknowledge. Rather, the correct method of global ethics is to see whether all or most interested parties are able to “construct” and agree upon a set of principles through a fair process of deliberation. On this view, it is also not clear that a set of values must gain universal consensus — a demand that seems unduly strong, given the variety of new media in the world. A weaker requirement would aim at the construction of a set of principles agreed to by most major journalism associations and news organizations.
Note: On a constructionist approach to universals, see Ward, S. J. A., “Philosophical Foundations of Global Journalism Ethics,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 20(1), (2005), 3-21.
Also, see Black, J. and R. Barney, eds., Search for a Global Media Ethic. [Special issue]Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 17(4), (2002).
Global journalism ethics will have to amount to more than a dreamy spiritualism about the brotherhood of man and universal benevolence. Conceptually, there is work to be done. Global journalism ethics must show, in detail, how its ideas imply changes to norms and practices. What exactly do journalists “owe” citizens in a distant land? How can global journalists integrate their partial and impartial perspectives? How can journalists support global values while remaining impartial communicators?
Reforming media practices
The slow, complex, practical task of developing better media practices is no less imposing. Exhorting individual journalists to be ethical will be futile unless supported by an institutional climate that encourages global values in the newsroom. Aware of such difficulties, some journalists may accuse global journalism ethicists of being unrealistic in thinking that news organizations will provide the education, expertise and extra resources needed to achieve a high-quality cosmopolitan journalism.http://forum.daffodilvarsity.edu.bd/index.php?action=post;board=5.0