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Deon and Telos: How Journalisms Are Evolving Their Ethical Approaches

Published: 13 August 2021
 by  MDPI

Abstract: Survey evidence shows a deontological ethical ideology remains dominant in global journalism, underpinned by a cultural value of detachment. This article opens by considering the strain imposed on these precepts in US corporate media while covering the Trump White House—ultimately to breaking point with the defeated president’s campaign to overturn the result, attempting to co-opt news organisations in the process. Feedback loops of cause and effect have, in any case, been exposed in today’s extended media, making the involvement of journalism in stories—through influence on audience responses and source behaviours—impossible to overlook. At the same time, new journalisms are emerging and growing, which adhere instead to a teleological ethical ideology. They openly identify themselves with external goals, and appeal for funds from donors and supporters on that basis. The article then goes on to present original data from analysing statements of aims and purpose put out by 12 news organisations working in four of these new fields: Peace Journalism; Solutions Journalism; Engaged, or Participatory Journalism; and Investigative Journalism, respectively. These represent a growing edge in journalism, it is argued, since they are positioned to respond positively to the changed conditions brought about by political and technological forces, which were illustrated by the Trump crisis. The study points to the changes in institutional arrangements now needed, if the structural foundations for their survival and success are to be strengthened.
Keywords: Peace Journalism / Solutions Journalism / Engaged Journalism / Participatory Journalism / Investigative Journalism / Journalistic Ethics

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