Moral news

14/01/12 | Posted by Ian Black

The Leveson inquiry into how the press behave (following various scandals) has produced some amazing moments. None more so than the owner of the Daily Express saying that he didn't know what the word ethical means. He said everyone's ethics are different and deciding can be a fine line. With so many competing voices it can be confusing, so here's a bit of a quick guide to ethical behaviour.

 Newspaper headline

Truthful: Quite simply not telling lies and not being misleading or so ‘economical with the truth’ that it creates a completely different picture of what is actually true.  Don’t make it up, don’t take phrases out of context so that they appear to mean what they don’t actually mean.  Don’t twist someone’s words so that they are distorted and become a completely different quote!

Respect:  Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  That means that no one is to be regarded as just news fodder or have their emotions disregarded when splashing them over the pages.  Yes, some people behave in odd ways, but whatever the story it involves real people and they have a fundamental dignity that needs respecting.

Honest:  We need to know that we can trust what a journalist writes otherwise there is no point reading what they print.  When people behave in a way that means they are trustworthy they have integrity.

Privacy: Telephoto lenses enable pictures to be taken from a distance.  There are moments when this is justified but there are moments when taking pictures infringes privacy.  Someone walking in the park with their children is private as is sitting on the beach relaxing or by the pool in their house or as a house guest.  A photo of someone somewhere or doing something which compromises their position is more likely to be in the public interest - see below.

Public interest: This is not the same as what interests the public.  The rule of thumb should be what story does this tell and what difference does it make; how does it matter?  Genuine investigative journalism to expose corruption and vice, dishonesty and lies is the triumph of a free press.  Some journalists do this at great personal risk.  When they are guided by high principles they are to be commended and praised.

Deception:  Hacking the phone of a dead teenager and deleting messages so that their parents think they are alive when they are not is deplorable.  Pretending you are someone so that you can fool their bank or doctor into revealing personal information is deceitful. These are not moral!

There are moral grey areas in some of these, but the principles of truth, respect, honesty and justice provide a good starting point.

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1. John 4:16

We know and have believed the love which God has for us.
God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God,
and God remains in him.—bible—4-16.html

#1. By Christina on January 16, 2012




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