Journalism, as an industry, has always been one of the vital sectors of any democracy. Journalism, as a profession, brings pride as journalists are truth-seekers who work to keep the public informed. Both the industry and the profession have always endured multiple hardships but have always risen to the occasion and delivered. One of the oldest and probably the most criticised industry out there, journalism is all about the principles that constitute it and the ethics that bind them together. In the best colleges for journalism, you do not only learn to report and document. You also learn to uphold the following principles and be a true journalist in the modern era.
Fake reporting has spread like a virus through the veins of the industry and recently plagues journalism. Especially in this digital world where news is created fast and spread at a moment’s notice, fake news has started influencing every facet of our lives, starting from our cultural affiliations to democratic decisions. Now more than ever, journalism has to revisit its core principle of maintaining accuracy and reporting based on facts. Not always can journalists bring out the truth but they can report facts backed by research and data. Modern journalists need to revise accuracy again to restore the diminishing ethics of factual journalism.
Facts are always impartial. They never side with any political organisation, private corporation or religious institution. Sure, there can be multiple sides to a single story and a journalist can choose to report just one side but at no point should the intensity of reporting be such that it sways the public to gather polarised opinion about a particular topic. If the journalist is indeed affiliated with some organisation, it falls under his/her ethics to reveal the same to the editor or the public. But the principle of impartiality cannot be tarnished at any level or in any form. Even while reporting about just one side, the journalist must maintain a tone that implicitly states that there is more to this story than this.
Accuracy and impartiality cannot exist if there is no independence in journalism. If reporting houses function under the influence of the state or any other private organisation, facts will be twisted and reporting will be unethical. And independence not only includes the media house that a journalist is affiliated to. Independence also works at a personal level where a journalist has the freedom to report his/her researched facts and not what the editor wants him/her to publish. The best university for journalism in Delhi educates its students about the true essence of independent journalism. Here again, facts must overpower biases, be it of the media house or personal viewpoints.
Another diminishing ethical principle of journalism that needs reconsideration and reinfusion. All journalists have always been accountable for what they write and publish. Considering the implications of their reporting is step one for writing any piece. But the digital world is increasingly diluting accountability where journalists are becoming more TRP-centered rather than being thoughtful about the words they use to report an incident. Without accountability, journalism can become reckless. Society can soon be thrown into chaos if journalists do not take responsibility for their reports. Hence, the principle of serious accountability needs to come back in journalism and colleges are right now the pioneers to bring about the trend.
Facts, at times, can be cruel. Opinions, more often, can be judgemental. With the power of influencing a massive section of the public, journalists can never afford to lose touch of their human side. The story that binds the facts must have a humane approach. Publishing something hurtful about one side to appease another must always remain off the table. The most impactful task of journalism colleges is to teach their students the human implications of their reporting and foresee the effect before hitting publish. At every step, a journalist needs to measure the effect of his/her words on humanity and then broadcast reports about any topic, not just the sensitive ones.
Lingaya’s Lalita Devi Institute of Management & Sciences, one of the top IP university colleges for journalism and based in South Delhi, has always taught journalism along with the above five ethical principles. And it continues to teach along these lines fulfilling its responsibility as an institution of education where aspiring journalists learn the right attributes of the sector and step into the world with uncorrupted ideals. LLDIMS trained journalists have reached pinnacles of success for a reason. Along with the required exposure, the infusion of ethics has always been right in this college. Journalism, after all, is a responsibility. And journalists need the arsenal of principles to carry it out adequately.