Ethics: Journalism and licensing

Filed Under (Future of journalism, Skills) by on 31-05-2010 and tagged ,

Want a good discussion of journalism ethics?

Start with the questions raised by Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson:

“What’s the definition of a reporter? I haven’t been able to find out? What’s a reporter? What’s a journalist?” Patterson said. “I thought you had to have a degree in journalism but apparently not. I could retire and be a journalist.”

The problem is that this “small government, less intrusive” Republican wants to scrap the First Amendment and license journalists.

Michigan Considers Law to License Journalists

Anytime the government takes the power to license who can be a journalist is the time when the government begins controlling the news. The governments that “pride” themselves on ensuring professional standards for journalists by requiring licenses to report  — China, Cuba, Iran — are also those governments that are the most repressive.

Does this Michigan state senator really think that his proposal is constitutional? Actually, he does. And that means he needs to re-read the Constitution and the relevant Supreme Court rulings.

So how does one determine who is a good journalist?

There are some simple guidelines: Be fair. Be accurate. Provide context.

Anything else is window dressing. I know highly educated people who can’t do those three simple things. And many others with “lesser degrees” who excel at it.

So, journalism students: What are your responses to Patterson?

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