Freedom of expression is a very important part of democracy. Freedom of expression is to open your computer, write a blog or whatever you want to write and say what you want, within the bounds of the law and maybe decency. Everyone can say what they want and not even have to tell the truth. And they don’t even have to tolerate other people. They can even be offensive or not say who they are or pretend to be somebody else. Individuals, who do not receive a salary to protect the public interest, to disclose issues and topics in the interest of the citizens, have no obligations as journalists. Their word does not “weigh” like that of a journalist who reaches a wide audience, and the medium in which he works has an obligation to protect the public interest.
“Freedom of expression gives people the right to say what they want without any restrictions. And they don’t have to be responsible, they don’t have to say sorry when they make a mistake. It is free expression. It is a very important part of democracy. But it’s not journalism, “says Aidan White, director of the Journalism Ethics Network.
Journalism moves within a framework of values called journalistic ethics.
Journalism is something different than this. Journalism is not free expression in that sense. Journalism is the freedom of the media to express themselves freely, but in a framework of values. And that framework of values is called journalism ethics. The journalist must abstain. Journalists cannot afford freedom of expression. They shape their expression within journalistic ethics.
Therefore, journalists must correct their mistakes, and apologize for their mistakes. Journalists must respect the facts. Journalists are not allowed to write malicious lies. They have to show humanity, humanity to the audience, they must not promote hate speech, they must be impartial and recognize if there is another side to the story and so on. This addition of values makes journalism different, it should not be equated with freedom of expression, which, I repeat, is a strong, very important part of democracy, but not journalistic ethics, added Whitehead Network Journal Director.
According to him, journalistic ethics can be divided into five main elements:
1. Accuracy. Simply reporting without distorting the facts
2. Independence. The job you do is your job, you don’t do it on behalf of someone else. You may not be a spokesman for any business groups, corporations, governments or any associations, especially interest groups.
3. Impartiality. As a journalist you have to see if there is a second side to the story. Almost always there. Sometimes more than two sides. As a journalist you are responsible for seeing what the other sides of the story say and think.
4. Humanity. As a journalist you must be humane, you must perceive the consequences of what you publish, broadcast. You must know that the word you use, the photo you are showing, can do harm. It is not the job of the journalist to do unwanted harm. The job of a journalist is to protect people. When reporting journalists must not use hate speech, they must not display inappropriate photos. They must not unnecessarily portray scenes of violence.
5. Responsibility. This is probably the hardest thing for journalists to do. “We are not a modest group of people. It’s hard to say sorry, “White said. But we must acknowledge our mistakes when they are made, apologize, and find a cure for the damage that is done if that is the case.
Every participant in the journalistic process has its role on the road that leads to the truth.
In Bill Kovacs and Tom Rosenstill’s book Elements of Journalism, the authors say that publishers and media owners must strive for and continually publish content of public interest without fear and without bias.
Editors must fight against twisting freedom of speech, against word manipulation, against hate speech, resisting pressures coming from governments, corporations, judges, lawyers or any other news creator who manipulates calling the lie in the name of truth and the war in the name of peace.
The most direct contact with the events on the ground and the creators of news and content are the journalists. The first contact with the citizens, the topics, the problems and the presentation of delicate issues to the public is in their hands.
For whom the journalists work
Journalists’ loyalty comes first for the citizens. The obligation to the citizens is greater than the professional egoism. It is trust that is implied. It is understood that criticism of the film is correct, that restaurant reviews are not influenced by advertising, and that coverage of an event is not due to friendship or self-interest.
For these reasons, those who make the news must not be impeded in digging the truth and telling the truth, even at the cost of financial interests.
However, like any freedom or right, the freedom of the media ends where the rights of others begin. Journalists must not in any situation illegally label, attack, humiliate, insult or slander any individual. Journalists must not deprive readers of their right to accurate and truthful information. Freedom of the media means free reporting of the truth, within the framework of journalistic ethics. Media freedom can`t be a shield for manipulation, false information, defamation, insult.