The ethical violations arising in online news


Junior Camille Kelly

Camille Kelly, Managing Editor

Print newspapers are becoming a business of the past as journalism is arriving to an online future. With all of the technological advances made in recent years, the way people consume their media is evolving. As traditional newspaper platforms are changing, so are traditional values. The role of the media is shifting; from what was once intended to be a service to the public who were trusted to provide credible information, to a gossip outlet with a single goal in mind: making the most money they possibly can.  

Some online journalists will publish stories with the intent to start rumors so that their website traffic increases; which is a blatant violation of journalism ethics. Modern journalists need to take accountability for what they share online, and should write with an objective to inform the public, instead of manipulating them for their own selfish reasons.

Journalists need to clearly define what is relevant information. Information that is relevant should be beneficial to the readers by providing only true, uncontestable facts. In contrast, many online news outlets will just outright lie and spread rumors for their own selfish benefits. A moral journalist must always ask themselves: why are they sharing this information and how does it serve the public? A true journalist knows that a news story is meant to provide readers with the facts, not take advantage of their audience with bias, influence, and clickbait.  

Additionally, media news need to have a larger contrast between opinionated and informative articles. News stories and editorials both play vital roles in journalism, but the two must be clearly separated. Informative news must be fact-checked and written without bias, while editorials serve to share the writer’s opinion and present a solution to a public issue. Both of these types of articles are essential to newspapers by fleshing out their websites with a variety of content. However, the problem arises when opinionated and informative articles are mixed, making it more difficult for people to find their news without running into bias. News sites need to be more intentional with the structure of their sites and articles by keeping the opinionated separated from the strictly informative.  

Many modern journalists argue that freedom of speech and press gives them the right  to share whatever information they claim to be true. However, libel, or spreading bias and false information, is a violation of the law and journalism ethics. Anyone who takes advantage of public opinion for their own personal gain has lost the right to be called a journalist.  

The first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams, once said, “I believe that advertising, news, and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.” 

The news may no longer be printed on paper, but news articles and media should still be held to the same values and standards as before. Every journalist should be bound to a code of ethics and write with the sole purpose of serving society, not their paycheck.