Journalism: a Social Responsibility?

As my study abroad experience comes to an end, there are many things to reflect on: the differences in food, activities, industries, and cultures. The professional experiences have been just as good as the personal ones with my classmates. Most of us are in our last year of college, and I’m excited to see how this study abroad program will shape our careers when we graduate.

Although I’m studying advertising, my major is under the journalism portion of my college. We are constantly being influenced by journalism practices and held to their standards. Even though I’m not pursuing a career directly in journalism, I’m definitely affected by it, and so is everyone else who lives in a place that has some kind of press freedom

The Society of Professional Journalists has a widely accepted Code of Ethics that journalists are encouraged to abide by. They list fundamentals such as seeking the truth, minimizing harm, acting independently, and being transparent. The full Code can be viewed here: SPJ CoE. Unfortunately, what you learn in school is always different from real life practices. Many news publications in the U.S. and U.K. have completely abandoned any form of ethical code, which has frustrated ethical journalists from doing their jobs and is giving journalism a bad reputation. Most importantly, they are breaking communities apart.

On our last day of class, we had a deputy head from the Muslim Council of Britain talk to us about their efforts to reshape the public perception of Muslims and combat Islamophobia. A lot of this effort is directed towards mainstream media who seem to have a disregard of reporting accurate information surrounding events that involve Muslims. Sensationalist headlines and alternative facts have lead to hate crimes against Muslims and a fear that Muslims are terrorists. This crippling trend has the power to destroy an entire community in Britain. Some may argue that the issue lies within the power we’ve given to the media, but I believe the main issue goes back to what so many young journalists are trying to work by: a code of ethics.

There’s a general distrust of mainstream media, which is valid considering the coverage of events that have taken place in the past year for both countries. But if we’re ever going to get to a level of trust between the media and citizens, we need to start being ethical. If you work in, with, and through the media, it begins with you. I for one am tired of seeing communities misrepresented and broken at the hands of the media. It’s old, and 2017 is half over.

To all journalists and communicators that are giving voices to the under and misrepresented, thank you.

To those who are contributing to broken societies, where is your world vision leading you?

Check out how the Muslim Council of Britain is working for the common good: MCB

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