Ethical issues in the media

Paper instructions:

Please pick one ethical issue observed in the media. This issue can involve a past or a current event; however, it must raise an ethical concern. When you have identified the ethical issue in the media – broadcast or print media or media via the internet – your job is to:

Explain the ethical issue observed in the media
State the reason for the ethical concern(s) raised
Visit and read the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and then discuss what SPJ Code of Ethics principle(s) your ethical issue violates
Discuss in detail what aspects of this ethical issue compromises justice and civic life
State what you think should be a remedy for alleviating any such ethical concerns in the future.
Research and include at least one credible source that supports your argument and one credible source that offers an opposing viewpoint (Please use APA style)
This five-page essay must consist primarily of your viewpoint in your own words. Please use sources to support and refute your point of view; however, the majority of this essay should contain your opinion rather than an overreliance on sources. Please ensure that you include all the information above by providing the numbers (1-6) next to the appropriate text.

Answer Essay to the Post

Media Manipulation

1.         Media manipulation is a strategic technique that is employed by partisan individuals and organizations to develop a claim that conforms to their viewpoints. The issue is quite pervasive in today’s society, and it is employed to sway consumers of information. Media outlets can be manipulated by groups such as politicians, influencers, conspiracy theorists, and hyper partisan news groups (Marwick & Lewis, 2017). The contemporary manipulators typically utilize sophisticated techniques to initiate full-blown attacks on media houses. The effect of this is that the targeted readers and viewers have had their psychological welfare exploited to the extent that this notion has become widely accepted. Media brands continually create content to influence public opinion, and this is done with the intention of highlighting victors and failures, who are then imprinted in the minds of the users. Media manipulation is a deplorable activity that influences consumers’ perception of issues, services, and products and goes against the tenets of the Society of Professional Journalists.

2.         An independent and unbiased media is an integral facet of the society because people are bombarded by an assortment of information sources that should be objective and verifiable. Evidently, the mainstream media leads in the instances of prejudice and manipulation with regards to news stories and sources. The mainstream media brands are mostly owned by large companies which are then in turn run by influential individuals who usually interfere with the running of these media houses to suit their desires (Croteau & Hoynes, 2013). Moreover, some mainstream media outlets are intimately entangled with the government, who use the channels as sources for intelligence, as well as the means for disseminating counterintelligence. Media manipulation presents itself via several techniques which include; hoaxing, advertising, psychological control, and activism. Groups like politicians and influencers can trigger media manipulation to advance their interests by doctoring information to provide a one-dimensional view regarding specific issues. Groups like politicians can engage in such activities to increase their chances of getting re-elected. Influencers manipulate the media to make readers and viewers adopt their opinions regarding certain issues or products. The influence can make the media consumers opt for a specific product or service for a certain provider while disregarding another.

3.         Media manipulation has been a contentious issue since the advent of modern journalism. The tendency by the media to fabricate and misrepresent the information that is fed to consumers goes against a number of the ethical principles that are required by the Society of Professional Journalists. The body outlines the ethical framework that is supposed to guide the values and ideologies that media houses should adhere to when reporting news. News manipulation goes against the requirement by the society that ethical journalism ought to be accurate and fair (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014). This principle states that journalists should be responsible for the accuracy of their stories and they should verify information. Furthermore, they should hold authorities accountable and they should avoid stereotyping.

Honesty in reporting may be relative in circumstances such as during wars. Consequently, the truth in such instances may be repeatedly altered to “conform” to public interest. News items such as photographs taken in war zones may be intended to evoke sympathy and emotions from the targeted audience. According to the ethical practices listed by the Society of Professional Journalists, journalists must seek the truth and report it while also minimizing harm (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014). Manipulation disregards the need to minimize harm by neglecting the need for information against probable discomfort for the viewers because most instances of wartime manipulation entails the application of gruesome images that are intended to sway the view of news consumers.

4.         The distortion of news information through the carefully choreographed activities by specific groups portends adverse consequences for citizens’ civic life, as well as for justice. As articulated by King, Schneer and White (2017), exposure to news media prompts individuals to take stands on certain issues, precipitate conversations and express themselves publicly. These are important aspects of politics in a democracy, therefore, the civic lives of these individuals would be profoundly affected if they based their opinions on information obtained from distorted media sources.

A skewed media coverage affects a number of elements of the justice system. The public primary obtains it knowledge of existing laws from the media, therefore, the manner in which media outlets depict crime or other aspects of the legal system. The media has an influential role in molding this perception because the issues and coverage that gain more airtime in the media inextricably inform the viewers’ opinion. The issue of media manipulation presents negative effects for the presentation of issues relating to the justice system. The media can opt to add or omit information which can make viewers view the issue at hand in a different light which can be the opposite of what they could have construed had the issue been presented factually. The media can also exaggerate issues such as the crime levels in a certain area to sway public opinion and this can also influence the work of justice stakeholders like judges and policemen.

5.         The issue of media manipulation has been around since the advent of photojournalism, and it has been worsened by technological innovations such as computers (Ward, 2011). Ward (2011) suggests that media manipulation can be addressed by dealing with the manipulators themselves, adhering to good principles of journalism, providing context, and being the facilitators of informed discussion. Media houses should work against manipulators by identifying the strategies of manipulators and striving to provide a fair coverage of events that may be tailored to incite and cause harm to the public (Ward, 2011). Further, journalists can seek to perform their duty as the faceless aspect of the society by pursuing proportional coverage. Stories that may cause harm to the public can be given less coverage, journalists should then dig and uncover the causes of the events in question to enable the viewers and readers make informed decisions. Journalists can also offer context by avoiding the urge to narrowly focus on an event. They should report the bigger picture and allow the consumers of their content to see the bigger illustrative context for any issue covered (Ward, 2011).

Media houses should ethically cover stories by deepening the context of the story to provide sufficient information for an informed discussion by the viewers, thus alleviating any prospects for bias. In instances such as anti-Islam coverage, media houses should rid themselves of manipulation by taking the opinions of individuals like moderate Muslim leaders into consideration (Ward, 2011). Such action help media houses provide informative content as both the intolerant and tolerant views will be subjected to a better scrutiny.

6.         Croteau and Hoynes (2013) hold that there is a significant correlation between public opinion and media coverage. The authors give the instances when media coverage and public concern rose, citing the urban riots that were precipitated by the Vietnam War (Croteau & Hoynes, 2013). The authors investigate the agenda-setting role of the media by looking at the relationship between the media coverage and the opinions of the audience. They suggest ways of overturning the media-consumer relationship by exploring the possibility of audiences acting as media producers. Media coverage should go against the traditional style of reporting and instead opt for investigating the experiences of targeted groups like the workers in a strike. In doing so, the media houses lend a voice to these groups and viewers can form opinions after evaluating the workers’ experiences and the employers’ positions.

Vraga et al. (2012) argue that the hostile interpretations of media content cannot be changed by in-depth coverage. The authors postulate that media literacy is a significant factor in aligning the perceptions of viewers towards a particular issue. Although trust in the media can lead to a rise in a story’s ratings and credibility, the personal involvement and experience of a news consumer can motivate their attitudes of bias even in a coverage where the media house tried to be as neutral as possible (Vraga et al., 2012). Additionally, individuals who have strong feelings towards a particular issue can view a media outlet’s coverage of the problem as biased even if the media took a non-aligned viewpoint. Therefore, regardless of a media house’s attempt to produce a flawless and objective news piece, the audience may already have their preconceived notions towards the issue at hand. In such instances, the media house can only perform its ethical duty of being a catalyst for social change to dissuade such people from holding the said beliefs.

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