EWRT 2, Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking
June 1, 2017
Mass Media Ethics
Journalists have great influence in how we perceive the world and thus, how we live our lives. They also have the power of voice, the ability to shift society’s focus to one issue or another. This is why it is important that journalists have a strong set of values and report ethically. The Society of Professional Journalists provide this through their “Code of Ethics”. Professional journalism is about reporting news for what it is and not being biased for whatever reason, whether it be for personal gain or preference. Being able to empathize with others is another vital component to profession journalism. Journalists should be open to others’ opinions and criticisms, and be aware of people’s feelings. Last, they should take responsibility for their work, and explain to the public should any miscommunication or mistake pops up. Unfortunately, not all journalism works this way. Many want their audience to think a certain way. This can be seen in the coverage of President Trump’s visit to the Middle East and terrorism by Fox News (Broadcasting), the New York Times, and PBS: NewsHour.
Fox News emphasizes that Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia was “historic”, both by the news anchor and in its headline. They indicate that the visit was successful, and describe it in elaborate detail--sometimes too much detail. For example, Fox reported that the king of Saudi Arabia greeted Trump by rolling out a red carpet, which was distinctly different from Obama’s visit in May 2014, described as “chilly”. A lot of the information was unnecessary, such as Trump’s partaking in the arga dance, or his tour of the Saudi National Museum led by the Saudi king. Fox also showed a clip--a sound bite--of a Middle Eastern leader who said that Trump is “capable of doing the impossible.” According to Sherry Diestler, a sound bite is “an excerpt from a speech or report that is presented as summarizing but may actually distort the sentiments of the speaker or writer” (332). We are only given a small part of the meeting. The two men seemed to be in good spirits, but we can’t know for sure based off of this one line. There was surely more that they discussed. Furthermore, it didn’t really tell us anything.
I also watched a Fox News Specialists segment where they talked about the Manchester terrorist attack, which occurred a few days ago outside an Ariana Grande concert. They had a couple of guests, both of whom had a list of qualifications, some necessary, and others completely irrelevant, such as “karaoke bars” or “Fox News contributor”. One guest is a former press secretary for President G.W. Bush, and the other is a former traveling press secretary for Hillary Clinton. By having people of the similar positions from two different parties, I could see that there was an attempt to be fair. Most of the discussers had similar opinions, which leaned towards the conservative side. They praised Bush’s...