Ethics. Aren’t they something that have been instilled into us since we were children? Well if so, why do some people have strong ethics, whilst others do not? Albert Camus ultimately states that ‘a man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world’, so one must question what would research practices be like without ethics?
Academically, ethics are defined as “norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour” (Resnik, D, 2011). So research ethics must be tied to the idea that researchers are doing the ‘right thing – by the project, its participants and society at large’ (McCutcheon, M, 2015). It is however, important to remember that there is truly no universal definition of ethics as they will always vary from country to country, culture to culture.
But in the media, why should we strive to be ethical? Well firstly, the media is the centre for news. It is the very foundation by which society can communicate and learn. Journalists, from their very first days on the job, are drilled in media ethics. Report truthfully, be objective, be honest and keep your integrity. But what happens when these values are compromised? Well, all of a sudden, inaccurate information leaks into society. You may find yourself liable for slander or fraud or your works, or your own career may become tarnished. Though, as mentioned above, some of these values and ethics are not shared worldwide. One can only look the freelance journalists and see the horrors that can arise when reporting and researching in particular countries. Ethics for example in the Middle East, are much more rigid and journalists can sometimes face kidnappings or even murder for their reporting.
Overall, the significance of ethics is invaluable in terms of media research and the wider media in general. So remember, whether you are writing up a new report, or conducting research, try and remain as ethical as possible and just like the picture at the very beginning, try and choose the right road.
McCutcheon, M, 2015, BCM210 Research practices in media and communication, lecture 3 week 3: Research Ethics, lecture PowerPoint slides, viewed 26/03/2015 <http://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/381818/mod_resource/content/1/BCM210%202015%20Lecture%2003%20Research%20ethics.pptx>>
Resnik, D, 2011, ‘What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, May 1st, viewed on 26th April, 2015, <http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis/>