When I look at certain news outlets and the stories they write about people, it’s clear that they’re trying to get a high readership. The headlines tend to give it away because at times, they can be damaging to the people who are named. Originally, I thought some journalists would consider that it might be kind of unethical but having seen as much of it as I have, I’m not sure that they’re bothered by what they write. To be fair, if a journalist constantly argued against the subject matter of the articles that they were asked to write then they’d probably get fired (unless they were freelance) and when you’re unemployed, your bills are still hard at work.
Is it wrong of journalists to write articles, knowing that they could be damaging to certain people? There’s always the chance of the organisation that the journalist is associated with being sued but it seems like a risk that a lot of people are willing to take. It’s a tricky situation in my opinion, because as a journalist you can’t stop to think about the feelings of the people you write about. It’s a cut throat business and if one person isn’t willing to write something then there are plenty of others who will do it no questions asked. The damage that the articles do to the people in question most likely don’t affect the journalists greatly since they have no relation to them. Ethically, the profession can get to the point where it’s considered despicable but, it’s hard to find a way around what’s required of you.
Don’t get me wrong, I reckon if a proper discussion was held about the ethics in journalism and what people are willing to do to put food on the table then maybe the standards associated with the profession might change but, at the same time, it’s a little much to ask. I think one thing everybody can accept is that journalism takes advantage of the interest that your average person has in someone else (celebrities in particular) as well as our attraction to sensationalised things. It might not always be respectable but it gives us something to talk about and from those discussions there are a lot of things that can come of them. No matter how much we chide journalists, for disregarding the respect that they should have for the names they write about, we do find it interesting and we respond which is justification enough for journalists and outlets to continue those same practices.
There aren’t many jobs that I can think of, if any outside journalism which are ethically shit but understandable in its own way. As much as I understand it, I can’t say I agree because I’ve seen news outlets target people, then try to wash themselves off their actions in a bid to self preserve which is pathetic. The craziest thing for me in all of this is that there will most likely always be a space for journalism and ethically grey practices because there will always be an audience to entertain it.