ERIC Number: ED219762
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Newspaper Journalists' Perceptions of Ethical Decisions.
Mills, Rilla Dean
A qualitative study designed to elicit the widest possible range of responses was conducted to determine the attitudes of journalists toward ethics. The study's three questions asked respondents (1) if they encountered ethical decisions in their jobs; (2) if not, why not; and (3) if so, how frequently and in what types of situations. Subjects were 153 employees of 10 newspapers from across the United States, mostly editors and reporters. A few did not feel that they faced ethical decisions at all. Those who did feel they faced ethical decisions were divided into two categories: a large group who listed decisions involving threats to objectivity, and a much smaller group that mentioned decisions involving an extra-professional sense of morality. The objectivity decisions of the first group can be further subdivided into conflicts between objective news coverage and the journalist's personal gain, bias or convenience; conflicts between objective news coverage and the pressures of the job; and human limitations in deciding what is objective. The second group's decisions involved concerns about invasions of privacy and exploitation of sources and concerns about potential harmful effects, in a larger social sense, of the professional norms themselves. Results indicated that journalists see ethics as no more than adherence to a narrow code of professional behavior that is almost always defined in terms of "objectivity." Few cared about larger community issues. This situation is not encouraging. (JL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Editors; News Reporters
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (65th, Athens, OH, July 25-28, 1982).