Walter Williams, Country Editor and Global Journalist: Pastoral Exceptionalism and Global Journalism Ethics at the Turn of the 20th Century

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 25 (3):207-225 (2011)
Abstract
This article identifies principles for global journalism ethics in speeches and essays by the early 20th century journalist and founder of the first American journalism school, Walter Williams. Williams is not known as a media ethicist, nor is he a prominent figure in ongoing scholarly work on global journalism ethics. However, his nascent ethical principles offer an important foreshadowing of current discussions on how journalism ethics might work in a global context. The global perspective he brought to journalism was formulated at a critical period in the development of American journalism and codes of ethics. Tracing the evolution of global journalism ethics is important because the search for universal ethical principles in journalism has intensified today. That is because “media technologies are increasingly and dramatically global. Our work in media ethics should be commensurate with them” (Christians, 2005, p. 3). A century ahead of current attempts to develop principles for global journalism ethics, Williams was confronted with pluralism and globalization, just as he and other key figures in American journalism's history were shaping journalism into a profession and an academic discipline. While Williams discussed such principles as global responsibility and awareness of difference, he also contended that a specifically Christian, American, pastoral model should set the global standard. This paradoxical, unwieldy stance is discussed in the context of the Progressive Era. Implications for current scholarship on global journalism ethics are explored
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