Fair Freedom

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"Press freedom is not conditioned upon fair and balanced reporting."

Robert J. Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists

 

Something seems amiss in the fact that there are legal repercussions for bad drivers but not bad reporters; however, conditions of First Amendment rights are extremely complex when it comes to our "societal privileges."

 

From this news writing course I've learnt that journalism is capable of an exceptional amount of damage when attention to fairness and ethics is not dutifully paid.  Derek asks where reports should draw the line on pleading first amendment rights whenever confronted with abusing the freedom of press.  This is an excellent question, because whenever legal responsibility is not forced there is room for individuals to act inappropriately without fear of reprimand.  Still, I think there is enough public pressure placed on the news industry that fairness is held in high opinion.  The news depends on audience support; if a news organization exhibits a shady code of ethics, people are not going to stand behind it.  News is for the public, first.  Journalists should always strive for a respectable level of morality in their stories, if for no other reason than to be proud of the content of their work.  If we value our privileges we should not misuse them, advice sometimes easier said than applied.

 

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3 Comments

Derek T said:

You make an excellent point. Why don't reporters have state standards (laws) to follow like everyone else? Are we being, too, harsh or realistic? I also think that reporters have there laws formed from and by the public that read the paper. If the readers do not like the articles or the paper, then they will complain, comment, or stop buying the paper. A question for all: Are the freedoms being misused by reporters or are they just doing there jobs?

April M. Minerd said:

To respond to your question, Derek, I think it's a bit of both. But mostly, journalism is out to do a job that demands good judgment and objectivity. There will always be the few who chose to abuse their position of power, and hopefully they will meet reprimand. More important is what we are doing in this class – learning how to be fair, how to represent the facts in an unbiased way to insure the future of ethically sound journalism.

Wendy Scott said:

I think that you bring up some interesting points in your post in regards to the ethics and the complex views of newswriting. The things that we write about might seem fair jut as what reporters write might seem fair. The loop is that we get so caught up it seems that sometimes it comes back to haunt us in regards to the First Amendment where is the line? Where can the line be drawn?
I have learned as well what we say is important and how it is taken is important we must be fair at least attempt to be.

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