Day 5 – Q 2. What do you understand by journalistic ethics? Explain with the help of suitable examples. (10 Marks)

  • IASbaba
  • February 4, 2022
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Ethics Theory, GS 4, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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2. What do you understand by journalistic ethics? Explain with the help of suitable examples. (10 Marks)

पत्रकारिता नैतिकता से आप क्या समझते हैं? उपयुक्त उदाहरणों की सहायता से स्पष्ट कीजिए।


Students are expected to write about what is journalistic ethics and also to write about journalistic ethics values with suitable examples. 


If the foundations of journalism ethics are tracked far enough, one finds that they are based on various international agreements and declarations, such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and regulations of international law. The UNESCO declaration regarding mass media (1978) and the Paris Declaration (1983), which were backed by numerous journalist associations, defined the ethical guidelines more accurately in questions related to media and journalism.


Journalistic ethics:

Journalistic ethics are basically a set of principles, standards, guidelines and code of conduct prepared for professional journalists. It deals with conduct, character and behaviour of a journalist and how he/she works before, during and after the news gathering and dissemination process.

Maintaining journalistic ethics with few principles and values:

  • Truth and Accuracy: Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so. For example avoiding Yellow journalism and paid news.
  • Objectivity: The absence of objective journalism leads to the false presentation of truth in a society which affects the perception and opinions of people.  As observed in the case of Cambridge analytica case, the biased news coverage on social media platform affected the Presidential elections in the U.S.
  • Independence: Due to corporate control of media and profit making attitude now days it observed that media acts less ethically & immorally on many instances. 
  • Humanity: Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others. For example avoiding reporting based on communal angle and creating misleading headlines as done in pandemic by few channels on tabligi Jamaat issue.
  • Responsibility and Accountability: A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. For example recent TRP manipulation by few TV channels in 2020. 
  • The chase for sensationalism and higher TRP rates as observed in the coverage of 26/11 terrorist attacks in India risked the internal security of the nation. The sensationalism-driven reporting compromised the identities of rape victims and survivors despite SC guidelines.
  • Fairness and Impartiality: Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. For example avoiding engaging in one-sided media trials as recently done in SSR case, lobbying for personal gains, blackmailing, manipulating news stories, engaging in malicious and defamatory reporting, running propaganda and disinformation campaigns.


Journalistic ethics is more than a gut feeling of right and wrong. It encompasses a broad set of standards that are under constant review, and you, as a practitioner, must take the ethical responsibilities of the profession seriously at all times, in that way you will bring honour to journalism and see to it that you have helped to maintain the integrity of its practice for future generations.

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