Ethical ideals in journalism: Civic uplift or telling the truth?

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 21 (4):322 – 337 (2006)
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In this article, we explore the tension between truth telling and the demands of civic life, with an emphasis on the tension between serving one's country and reporting the truth as completely and independently as possible. We argue that the principle of truth telling in journalism takes priority over the promotion of civic values, including a narrow patriotism. Even in times of war, responsible journalism must not allow a narrow patriotism to undermine its commitment to truth telling. Journalists best fulfill their civic role by adopting the perspective of a democratic patriotism. We conclude that if news organizations accept the primacy of truth telling and democratic patriotism, they should not embed reporters with military units, or if they do, they have an ethical obligation to implement special editorial precautions.



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Stephen Ward
University of British Columbia

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Foundations of Modern Political Thought.Quentin Skinner - 1978 - Religious Studies 16 (3):375-377.
Is patriotism a virtue?Alasdair Maclntyre - 1984 - In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University.

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