Stakeholders versus shareholders: Journalism, business, and ethics

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 19 (2):119 – 129 (2004)
Abstract
Although the individual journalist is an essential unit of ethical agency, journalists are increasingly employees of large companies or corporations whose primary aim is to maximize returns to shareholders. Consequently, many, perhaps most, of the ethical dilemmas journalists face begin with the inherent conflict between the individual's role as a journalist and his or her employer's quest for profit. My underlying argument in this article is that this situation is not unique, that other fields are confronting similar dilemmas, and consequently, journalism may have much to learn from them. In the article I contend that business and journalism ethics, in particular, appear to have more in common than has generally been acknowledged and that the field of business ethics has yielded many concepts that appear to have relevance to journalism. In the article, I conclude that considering the insights offered by those who operate from the perspective of business ethics will facilitate analysis of the interface between individual journalists and the corporate forces that affect so many of them.
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