Challenges facing global media ethics

By Hillary Smith

Global media ethics, which are principles and practices expected of journalists and news organizations worldwide, have a long road ahead.

New methods of communication are enabling media to
extend the reach from local to global. With the expansion of journalism comes new expectations regarding the conduct and standards of the media.


Photo via Media Morals/Ward.

There is a
practical and ethical need for global media ethics, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics. The current, locally based ethic codes are outdated in terms of addressing current issues facing global journalism, and with the media’s newfound global influence comes a different set of responsibilities.

There are several challenges facing the creation of global media ethics, according to the Center for Journalism Ethics. Points of consideration include respecting cultural values, preserving free speech, and ensuring all news organizations are equipped to meet the established ethical standards.

Different values and practices are seen from culture to culture. Establishing globally accepted media standards that take all cultures into account will be difficult, both to achieve and uphold. Difficult, but not impossible.

“Because of the many universal values that bond humans at whatever location, journalists should be able to agree on common ethical principles.” Sidney Callahan, psychologist and Distinguished Scholar at The Hastings Center, wrote in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics.  


NOAA Virtual Satellite. Photo via Hackshaken/Creative Commons.

Preserving free speech is another issue global media ethics face. Both in attempts to rework the global media system and to create global media ethics, there are arguments claiming that trying to control how much influence a certain section of media holds is a threat to free speech. This debate is ongoing and heated, as minority Western states object to being controlled in such a way and non-Western states seek to defend their own cultural values and influence in media.

If fair, culturally aware global media ethics can be agreed upon, then the issue of getting all the news organizations to adopt and follow them must be faced. News organizations would have to provide education, expertise, and resources needed to integrate such ethical standards into their newsrooms in order to achieve high-quality global journalism. The question of how they would acquire all those additional resources is important, and will have to be addressed as the movement toward establishing global media ethics progresses.

Why do we need global media ethics?



This entry was posted in #UWEauClaire, Blog Post, cj 222, CJ222, International, Journalism, media ethics, Press Freedom, Print Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Challenges facing global media ethics

  1. pomaslta says:

    I found this topic interesting! I agree that all cultures and traditions need to be taken into consideration, but it sounds like a nearly impossible task, which you highlighted. How do they plan on tackling such a task? Our culture differs greatly to one, say, in Africa? If one thing in America is okay to do, but not in Africa, does this mean that aspect has to be left out entirely to accommodate for the African culture? Also, how do you think other, older generations of reporters would adapt to a change in ethics? We’re students, and because we have little experience, it’s be relatively simple to help us adapt to a change, but what about the journalists with thirty years under their belts? Do you think they’d take to a massive policy change?

    Thanks, Hillary!

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