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Examples of Ethics (Boycott of Journalists, Rupert Murdoch and trust deficit in media)

GS Paper 4

 Syllabus: Application of Ethics: Media

 

Source: The Print,

 Example 1: Boycott of Journalists

India’s Opposition parties have decided to boycott 14 prominent news anchors accused of “partisanship and hate-mongering.”

 

Ethical issues concerned with such a boycott:

Ethical IssueDescription
Targeting IndividualsNaming and boycotting specific news anchors can be seen as a form of personal targeting rather than addressing broader systemic issues in journalism (such as quality and credibility of journalism)
Lack of Due ProcessBoycotting anchors without a transparent and fair due process raises questions about fairness, justice, and the right to defend oneself against allegations.
Freedom of ExpressionLimiting access to news anchors may be perceived as a restriction on freedom of expression, both for the anchors themselves and for those who wish to hear their perspectives.
Impact on Media LandscapeOver-personalization of journalism and targeting specific anchors
Transparency and AccountabilityThe process of determining which anchors to boycott, and the criteria used, should be transparent and accountable to avoid favouritism or bias.

 

Suggestion: Instead of targeting specific anchors, the focus should be on addressing hate and bias in journalism through public and political debate.

 

Example 2: Rupert Murdoch and trust deficit in media

Context: Rupert Murdoch, creator of Fox News, steps down as head of News Corp. and Fox Corp

Rupert Murdoch led to a trust deficit in media primarily revolving around his media empire’s practices and their impact on journalism and public perception.

 

Key issues are:

  • Phone-Hacking Scandal: Journalists at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid had illegally hacked into the phones of various individuals, including celebrities and crime victims, to gather stories.
    • This unethical and invasive practice not only violated privacy but also undermined trust in the media as a whole.
  • Ethical Breaches: Murdoch’s media outlets faced allegations of ethical breaches, such as biased reporting and sensationalism.
    • Ethical issues of prioritizing profit and sensationalism over responsible journalism, erode the public’s trust in the credibility of news reporting.
  • Influence on Editorial Independence: There were allegations that editors and journalists working for Murdoch’s companies were pressured to align their reporting with his political and business interests.
  • Monopoly Concerns: Murdoch’s media holdings included a vast array of newspapers, television networks, and other media platforms. Some argued that this media monopoly allowed him to control a significant portion of the news landscape, limiting diversity of perspectives and potentially skewing public discourse.

 

Mains Links:

Today we find that in spite of various measures like prescribing codes of conduct, setting up vigilance cells/commissions, RTI, active media, and strengthening legal mechanisms, corrupt practices are not coming under control. (UPSC 2015)

(a) Evaluate the effectiveness of these measures with justifications.

(b) Suggest more effective strategies to tackle this menace.