Ethics in the Multimedia World

In today’s expanding world of multimedia, questions continue about whether traditional journalistic values will survive. More than 40 percent of U.S. news consumers obtain their news from the Internet — from newspaper Websites, broadcasting Websites, or new startup community-news Websites. The question lies within the credibility of the news. Can news consumers trust what they are reading on the Internet?

Journalistic credibility is essential to the survival of every news medium. Without credibility, expect few news consumers. With few news consumers, expect future challenges in keeping the news organization alive. According to the results of research project Media Consumption and Believability Study, the U.S. public is skeptical about news outlets and the people who run them. More than half of the participants agreed with the statement, “I often don’t trust what news organizations are saying.”

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, and Bill Kovach, chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, claim that the new declines in confidence reflect a sense that the press is not aggressive enough in its coverage of major issues.  In times of distress, people tend to stick with newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations that they have relied on before for fair, accurate and thorough information. If the press is not precise in remaining ethical, people will continue to retreat to more familiar newspapers from their pasts and ignore other news organizations.

In the late 1990s, editors issued a series of reports that focused on how to stay true to core journalism values — news judgment, balance, accuracy, leadership in the community, accessibility and credibility — in the multimedia age.  To emphasize the importance of ethics and to guide peers toward ethical conduct in their communication outlets, professional communicators are developing codes of ethics. As news operations continue to transmit their content in multiple ways, codes of ethics need to be applied to all media outlets, attracting news consumers and keeping them coming back.

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