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Ethics in determining the “news”

April 8, 2009

It seems to me we increasingly live in a sound bite world, where public opinion followed by government action is shaped by the media.  Pick a hot button issue and you can find a stream of stories fueling it, defining and positioning it.   Pirates off the coast of Africa,  troubled individuals becoming randomly violent,  the vilification of the auto and banking industries, the many faces of job loss and the global economy.  

There is a lot happening every day in the world – who decides what makes the news and why?  I really believe that the stories run by the mainstream media are what people react to most, and what governments are often manipulated into responding to.   Therefore, the selection of which stories to air and how to pitch them is a selection process itself – a form of leadership that we elect to power by tuning in to it.   

 The claim of reporting the truth may pass situational ethics, but doesn’t begin to address the level of responsibility for the outcome.   Why write, film, and communicate the story if not to have an effect?   There is intent, there is always motive and agenda.

Perhaps  social media may connect the peoples of the world in other ways, and there are numerous examples of it’s rising influence, but as much as we talk about the groundswell, it still lacks the focus and mass sway of CNN and AP sound bites.   Will Social ever become dominant?  The complication that I see, is if several major social sites / hubs grew in readership to the point in which they competed with mainstream media on equal footing, then they would in effect become subject to the very same forces – of selecting which stories to promote. 

Ironically, I find myself struggling with this  in my small corner of the world.  What topics from customer conversation do I focus my reporting upon, knowing that actions may likely be taken as result of the communication?   In effect, my selective reporting (and it is necessarily selective) based upon sentiment, volume, significance, actionability – whatever criterion one might choose to incorporate, does establish an inherent bias to the reporting.   I am a microcosm of the same system I am questioning.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. vijay permalink
    April 28, 2009 7:08 pm

    i think citizen journalism may be a different appoach to take care of ethics…this link has one of the citizen journalism news channel

  2. vijay permalink
    April 28, 2009 7:08 pm

    i think citizen journalism may be a different appoach to take care of ethics…this link has one of the citizen journalism news channel

    http://cj.ibnlive.in.com/

  3. April 29, 2009 3:13 am

    Vijay,

    Thanks for stopping by outside the forum. Good example – yes, social media can give individuals a voice and organizing them as citizen journalist can certainly amplify that effect, and also create the opportunity for diversity.

    Great point.

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