Journalism Ethics & New Trends in Communication

Wayne Waters, Ohio University

The ethics of journalism and mass communications are undergoing serious reevaluation these days. Concepts derived from three major phenomena — the social responsibility theory exemplified by the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press, the developmental journalism brought out by the MacBride Commission on “Communication and Society Today and Tomorrow,” and the advent of public/civic/communitarian journalism — associated with mass communication seem most pertinent to the debate.

In all three cases there have been serious challenges to the most conservative views of the proper ethical parameters for journalistic endeavors. One can see within this debate a general broadening of ethical considerations from purely individualistic ethics to organizational ethics; from organizational to sociological and political concerns; from a negatively defined perspective of “do no evil” to a positive, proactive sensibility of facilitating public involvement; from the narrow tip of top-down reporting to the broad-based bottom-up approach.

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