Moral Difficulties Involved in War Reporting Essay

3408 Words 14 Pages
Moral Difficulties Involved in War Reporting

Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………….page 3

Historical perspective on the evolution of journalistic ethics……………….page 4

Deontology and Utilitarianism………………………………………………page 5

Ethical Dilemma: Should reporters ever leak and/or publish classified information in a time of war? Arguments in favour……………...page 5

Ethical dilemma: Should reporters ever leak and/or publish classified information in a time of war? Arguments opposed………………page 6

Applying principles of Deontology and Utilitarianism to the ethical dilemma………………………………………………………page 8

Conclusion….………………………………………………………………page 10

Bibliography………………………………………………………………...page 11

Introduction

Journalists
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. . the press not only can ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ but it can ‘heat’ it by continually striking.”

Richards (2005) states the prevalent newspaper partisanship of 17th and 18th century began changing in the 19th century to a more neutral position. This was due to the increasing dependence on advertising revenue, and the need to appeal to the broadest market possible.

He also identifies news coverage of the Spanish-American War and the circulation wars between Hearst and Pulitzer as a low point in American journalism, and providing impetus to a call for more objectivity and defined standards. That came in 1910 when the first code of ethics was created by the Kansas Editorial Association and in 1923 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Covered in these and subsequent books and codes were such ethical topics as reporting on national security, fairness and accuracy.

The Hutchins Commission in 1947 (Richards 2005, p. 8) “. . . introduced two key notions – the ‘public good’ and the ‘greater responsibilities’ of the press.” He adds, “According to this theory, the responsibilities of the press . . . were to be emphasised over its freedoms, and the press was to be considered subject to moral and ethical restrictions.”

During the second half of the 20th century there was considerable criticism of this social responsibility theory. For instance, Richards queries to whom are the journalists responsible, what should the media be free to do, and

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