learning pages / Ethics

2.2 : Why do journalists cover the world in a particular way?

Our view of the world is strongly affected by a range of factors, from the culture we come from to our socioeconomic situation, that may mean we see stories through certain prejudices and assumptions that we take for granted. We need to be aware of these potential biases and blind spots to prevent them from compromising our reporting, especially on lesser known issues and places.

Our view of the world is strongly shaped by a whole range of influences. Many of these factors may not even be conscious. From our culture and our class to our educational background and social networks, prejudices, preconceptions and unquestioned truths all play a role in determining what we see. 

Together, these issues help us to create frames, narratives and stories which we use to make sense of what is happening around us. In other words, these influences serve as a lens through which we perceive the world and interpret it in a particular way.

One of the major vehicles for bringing these frames and narratives into the minds of the public (journalists included) are media platforms journalists. The frames used by news media have a particularly powerful influence on how we all perceive and understand the world around us. Media framing can completely transform how a story is perceived by the general public.

The first step is for journalists to acknowledge this very fact. Only then they can learn to identify these frames and understand how they develop – and so consciously resist them.

They should be able to look critically at their own assumptions and at how media stories are framed, to be able to reframe stories in order to bring more diverse, nuanced and balanced information in ways that can change how people think about global issues like migration, climate change and other development-related topics.

Journalists are human beings and members of society. Therefore, we should not be surprised that these different influences – including the media – influence their own view of the world. And the more journalists are aware of how these views originate and develop, and even the very fact they exist, will enable them to work more effectively.

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2.1 : Globally-minded journalism ethics.

The world is changing, and journalism should react to these processes. One of the areas in urgent need of a rethink is journalism ethics. Today, journalistic coverage requires more diverse information and data, more voices and perspectives, to be considered balanced and accurate. At the same time, national or even personal interests should not take precedence over transnational principles of human rights and justice. Journalists should become transnational communicators whose social contract extends beyond their own audience or country. Instead, they should develop something much wider – a multi-society contract with the entire global community.

2.3 : What power do journalists have and how does it influence their work?

The very first point when we are trying to cover distant and complex issues is to reflect on our own position – who we are and how our background influences our work. This also requires a genuine understanding that journalists possess power and bear a social responsibility to use it responsibly.

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