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Ethics and Truth in Journalism

Updated on June 5, 2011

To Tell the Truth

There used to be a popular game show called “To Tell the Truth” on television. Maybe those who remember it will recall how it was played. There was a panel of contestants introduced to several people, each would tell a story.  One would be genuine and the other two a fabricated, blatant lie. It was up to the panel to decide who was being honest. It was a great game.

However, today it seems the press and other media have taken to playing a similar game with the American public. The left wing accuses the right and vice versa. It’s sort of like a lengthy game of ping pong. In the end, the spectators become dizzy and confused watching the back and forth action. The media is then supposed to determine which is telling the truth.

But, aren’t they just as confused as the rest of us? Maybe, but their job is to be “investigative reporters.” Apparently, there aren’t many of those left. It used to be journalist courses taught ethics and unbiased reporting, meaning their personal opinion shouldn’t be considered. Unless, it was a commentary or editorial because everyone knows those are basically opinions.

Presenting the Facts

True, the modern day reporter will present facts. But are all the facts being covered? Perhaps our media representatives should retake a refresher course in Journalism 101. It’s obvious there are certain subjects which one media outlet will report on and others won’t.

Aren’t professional journalists supposed to question things, good or bad and present both sides to the American public? Supposedly, the media is to ask pertinent questions of their elected officials and be the nation’s “Watch dog.” When did this practice stop and why? It’s obvious from the electronic media the public in many cases are getting a one sided view on subjects on national concern.

Unfortunately, for the so-called media, the power of the internet with its’ numerous blogs and social media, Americans are tuning in to information the mainstream media refuses, or are unwilling to inform people about or at best a slanted, one-sided view. Perhaps, that’s the reasoning behind our governments’ bid to put a “kill switch” on it.

Professionals in the field may point out the majority of those publishing blogs or articles via the internet aren’t professionally trained writers. What escapes the “professionals,” however, is one needn’t be a professional to simply tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Corporate Ownership

Many argue the culprit behind one- sided journalism is “corporate ownership.” After all, it’s no secret the bulk of the media is owned outright by democrats. Others believe, this fact has no bearing on whether the masses are getting the full content or not.

Is it possible to find unbiased reporting? There are many who say there is no such thing anymore. Here are a few quotes from some of our nations’ finest, shining examples of today’s unbiased media professionals.

First, we have NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. "We don't want to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few days we're gonna own that country."

Here’s a quote offered by CNN News president Eason Jordan. It’s one which needs to be continually repeated until Americans understand just how degrading some off the wall comments can be to our freedoms and Constitution."I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war, and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."

CNN’s anchor Carol Costello doesn’t rate much better. Here’s his comment on blacking out an Iraqi news conference."All right, we're going to interrupt this press briefing right now because, of course, the U.S. government would disagree with most of what he is saying."

And, not to be out done, here’s Dan Rather, CBS Evening News anchor, speaking to Larry King during an interview,"Look, I'm an American. I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' may be. Now, I can't and don't argue that that is coverage without a prejudice. About that I am prejudiced."

What about talk show hosts? Are they any better? Scanning through radio stations you inevitably hear some host bashing journalism. Not just a specific story, but journalism in general. There’s nothing inherently wrong with constructive criticism. But, isn’t a sweeping condemnation of all journalism unfair?

For example, radio show KHOW host Peter Boyles agreed with a caller who compared some of today's top journalists to Catholic Church leaders who tried to stop the Gutenberg press because they didn't want the masses to have their own bibles.

However, this writer was taught, for journalis­m to garner any symbolism of respect it has to be unbiased… whether print, radio, or television­. It’s not the format that counts, it's the content.


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Ahhh...another journalist who sees things my way.I have been a writer for a long time myself but not continuously.

    • safiq ali patel profile image

      safiq ali patel 

      7 years ago from United States Of America

      I have been a journalist for over 20 years, though I work outside of America. Journalists are no longer encouraged to get to the truth of any matter. Instead we go after silly stories that are a waste of our time and the time of the reading, watching and listening public. There are more issues than ever before that are worthy of being investigated in the public interest. But capitalism and profit take priority in the newsroom these day and very little work that journalists should be doing in the public interest actually gets done.


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