When a singer says that a song is true, their words are taken as meaning that the song is based on a true story, that the facts are broadly as indicated in the lyrics, and/or that the song is true to the emotion or spirit of real events. (Harcup, 2007, p.
2) A journalist though, Harcup continues is not an artist, when he is claiming to tell the truth, it must be absolute “That’s why the very first clause of the international journalists’ code…declares: “Respect for truth and the right of the public to the truth is the first duty of the journalist”. (Harcup, 2007, p.2)As aforementioned, the code of conduct that journalists follow is adhered to by consensus only. Many writers and journalists argue that it is important, if Britain is to remain a democratic society, to have a free press.
(Allan, 2005) Comparisons are often made with the tyrannical regimes of other countries, where the press are under the strict control of their governments e.g. Cuba and North Korea. In those countries, journalists face prison and sometimes death if they report anything negative about the ruling powers. Consequently, there is no freedom of expression, allowing those in charge to go largely unchallenged. (Pilger, 1999)Newspapers accounts therefore should be an impeachable source of news. A report however, does not have to remain impartial and will generally encompass the political leanings of whichever paper it appears in. (Harris & Spark 1994) Fairness and accuracy though, should be uncontested, both sides of an argument should be presented to the reader and a right to reply granted to those who are written about.
Additionally, there should be “… a clear distinction between comment and conjecture and fact.” (Harris & Spark 1994, p.
227)Tony Harcup, (2004) recognises the difficulties reporters face when witnessing news events, that: “…they may be carrying all sorts of personal or cultural baggage that can impact as what they see as ‘true’ and what they recognise as ‘the facts’.” ( Harcup, 2004, p.62). It can be argued then, that a journalist must be objective and forget whatever personal prejudices or preconceived ideas they may have.
Events must be reported on without bias(Harcup, 2004), scrupulous note taking is also necessary for later referral, not only helping when writing a report hours, days or weeks later. Meticulous note taking will also aid a journalist, should his account be contested.In conclusion, a reporter should be a beacon of the truth.
Opinion is welcome, perhaps even necessary, for society to evolve. Debate is healthy and without it we could be at risk of a totalitarian Government sneaking in to power. Opinion has to be stated as just that. When writing a news account, the writing should not be coloured by personal feelings, a journalist must write facts as they happen, not as they ‘see them’. A reader should be able to pick up any news account and trust that the information it contains, is factual and not manipulated in any way. If too many journalists bend the truth, or fail to check the facts of a story inside out, then mistrust could spread through society like a cancer. This may possibly, leave press’ future hanging in the balance and with it everyone’s freedom of expression.BibliographyAllan, S.
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