Past Program

Mar 20 - Mar 27, 2002

Influence, Values, and Professional Responsibility in the News Media


It is an axiom of democratic thought that open and unfettered access to information and freedom of expression is one of the pillars upon which freedom rests. In many parts of the world – under democratic regimes or not -- such journalistic conditions are hardly axiomatic, and the professional context in which many journalists work is defined by a struggle with governmental censors. In other areas, though the freedom of the press is taken for granted, the collusion of money, corporate interests and social pressure has placed constraints on the capacity of news organizations to report accurately, thoroughly, and in some instances, even at all. Structural questions aside, because journalists also confront their own identities – political, cultural, social – in the stories they write and the events they cover, reporters must balance these personal beliefs with the conditions they work in.


This session will explore the pressures on journalistic freedom around the world and the notion of professional responsibility in the news media. What is “professional responsibility” in journalism, and how is it determined, judged and maintained? What special responsibilities might journalists have while negotiating sometimes competing instincts of loyalty, integrity, identity, self-interest or self-preservation? Do journalistic responsibilities extend to media-conglomerates? How might standards of journalistic ethics be applied to the corporations and “parent companies” who own news organizations? How can the news media balance economic and political pressures with the needs of free, accurate, and fair reporting?