Media Ethics examines the relationship between media activity and human behavior. It acts as a management tool in terms of responsibility in media companies. Media ethics questions the role of media in the community and society in a moral point of view.
Media Ethics concerns the following questions:
- With what legal methods may information (pictures, movies, sound, text, documents) be procured?
- How widely it can be edited (summarized, rewritten, cut, edited)?
- What words can be selected (neutral point of view and objectivity of reporting)?
- How should information be selected for publication?
- What information should be published or rather not?
An alternative perspective is the question of responsibility in the media:
- Who is responsible?
- For which he is responsible (for action)?
- To whom is he responsible?
- To whom he must answer?
Another point of view is based on the question “What kind of responsibility media professionals (especially journalists) should have to the society?”
The work of the media is mainly influenced by political considerations (political standpoint of the media representative) and economic considerations (maximizing the reach and the achieved attractiveness of the media as an advertising platform). Media ethics attempts to define the degree to which the work of media professionals of political and economic factors may be influenced, where the limits are.
When considering ethical issues in the media several dimensions can be considered:
- Individual ethics (normative oriented)
- Ethics of the media system (systems theory)
- Public ethics
- Casuistic ethics (North American-Anglo-Saxon)
Individual ethics of any journalism is ideologically determined – responsibility, sense of mission, conscience, commitment, attitude. After the Nazis followed a decade-long abstinence ethics: normative ethics concepts were condemned as ideologically suspect.
Truth should be the top priority of coverage (Boventer).
Audience Ethics has become more important in the last 15 years. Audience sees through manipulative influences of the mass media and wants to be emancipated from them. These are usually ineffective appeals. There are universal values in relation to human existence. From these responsibilities, duties, and virtues are derived, which are valid in every culture, society or religion.
- Duties are not to be understood as an imperative, but as a framework with which a situation can be assessed ethically.
- In a democracy there is a high degree of individual freedom. This places high demands on the media education of the population.
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