Ethics in Public Relations and Journalism: the Imperative for Truth-Telling
Ethical Shifts in Journalism
Journalists are known in movies and media as vigorous, committed watchdogs of the press, trying to get hard-hitting stories to spread to their community, whether it’d be for a rural town in Ohio or the Big Apple of New York. With that being said, journalism has taken an ethical turn in the past couple of decades. From leaking unclassified government documents to networks spreading half-truths and one-liners for citizen attention, the Media has taken a toll, as well as its reputation. These days, anyone dependent on news and media outlets has become skeptical of anything published. News agencies should be required to tell the truth. No one wants to be governed, but news agencies should tell the truth, the entire truth, as long as it’s supplied with evidence and facts.
The Watergate scandal was a significant effect that changed journalism (more specifically, investigative journalism). The Watergate scandal began on June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested for wiretapping phones and stealing documents. More importantly, these robbers were tied to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. Although Nixon stretched as far as he could to cover up the crime afterward, his role in the conspiracy was revealed, and he soon resigned in August 1974. The political scandal caused Americans to question their government. However, investigative journalism gained notoriety for the exposure of this American horror. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, former reporters for the Washington Post, revolutionized investigative journalism with their contribution to covering and investigating the political scandal.
How it works
The Impact of Investigative Journalism: The Watergate Scandal
Investigative journalism was not very popular. Never producing results and not catching the attention of the public allowed this genre of journalism to generally go unnoticed. However, Woodward and Bernstein revolutionized investigative journalism by digging deeper to find a new information and adding a captivating twist to an already groundbreaking news story. Since then, the population has depended on journalists and news outlets to inform the public of their nation and events that take place, regardless of ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
Challenges in Modern Media: Yellow Journalism and Misinformation
While investigative journalism launched into a booming success, nowadays, Americans have turned their distrust of news media. The term first used during the Spanish-American war, Yellow journalism is journalism that depends on propaganda and exaggeration. Considering the high amount of time that is spent on social media, people are highly exposed to false news, and it can easily affect them. Misinformation can be difficult to correct, and it can leave negative impacts that can last despite the fact that even they get corrected afterward. False news is one of the most important ways of misinforming people, and it has led to various different negative results.
- McChesney, R. W. (2004). The problem of journalism: A political economic contribution to an explanation of the crisis in contemporary US journalism. Journalism, 5(3), 259-281.
- Kovach, B., & Rosenstiel, T. (2014). The elements of journalism: What newspeople should know and the public should expect. Three Rivers Press.
- Bartlett, A. L. (2007). Investigative journalism in the United States: Recent developments and future prospects. Journalism, 8(3), 315-335.