Media Ethical Dilemmas Essay

1599 Words 7 Pages
Legal and Ethical Dilemmas: The Media and Terrorism

Considering the recent rise in terror attacks across the globe and the predominant effect this has on journalistic reporting, this essay will centre around legal and ethical dilemmas that arise when covering terrorism in the media. Brian Jenkins (1974) states that “Terrorist attacks are often carefully choreographed to attract the attention of the electronic media and the international press. Terrorism is aimed at the people watching, not at the actual victims.” This makes the coverage of such attacks a pressing concern for modern day journalists. Focusing on past and present attacks around the globe, this essay will break down the specific legal and ethical issues that reporters would
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It can be a battlefield of legal and ethical contentions. It is a journalist’s job to inform the public not to help the victims, despite this it can be difficult for them to deal with the responsibility to the people suffering whose stories they tell. To combat these ethical dilemmas Kant’s categorical imperative says, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means to an end” (Kant as cited by Bonde & Firenze, 2013). It reiterates the moral code that everyone has a right to be treated with a feeling of humanity rather than a front-page …show more content…
An impasse can occur between what is legal and what is ethical when it comes to the independence of the media in a terror situation. Terrorism test the media’s right to freely and independently inform the public and threatens with a call for censorship. It can create a stalemate between the laws imposed by authorities and opposing ethics of media organisations. Javier Dario Restrepo, Colombian professor of journalistic ethics wrote that “A journalist’s natural function, is to serve the population, not the authorities.” (Restrepo as cited by Martoz, 2017, p.29). One issue is over the confidentiality of sources, this has been dubbed the ‘golden rule’ of journalism ethics (Ingham, 2008, p.4). A journalist may face jail time if they discard the law in favour of ethical codes and maintain the confidentiality on a source. Another issue surrounds Australia’s strict anti-terrorism laws. For example, the Dorling raid (Pearson & Polden, 2015 p.343) saw a national affairs correspondent who had his home searched for classified documents after working on a defence intelligence case. The media is also under the impact of laws that can temporarily ban the coverage of cases, limit the flow of information on cases, and penalise the glorification of terror acts (Pearson & Polden, 2015 p.338). The media also imposes its own ethical codes surrounding the glorification of terror attacks. For instance, the choice made by the French Newspaper

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