First, it is sad that journalist of major newspapers or financial institutions need to be reminded of the ethics code. Secondly, why did it take until now for anyone in Murdoch’s news empire to realize the need to emphasize the code of ethics for journalists. Dow Jones editor-in-chief, Robert Thomson sent a reminder memo to his journalists of the need to act ethically.
“It is clear to every one of you how much emphasis that we collectively place on ethics at Dow Jones, but, in light of recent events in London, it is worth re-emphasizing those principles.”
“It is important that all editors take responsibility for reporters in their care and that all reporters take care.”
The latter sentiment is rather ironic since the most prominent former editors in the company, Les Hinton and Rebekah Brooks, lost their jobs and face lawsuits because of their denial of responsibility for the actions of reporters working under them. The paper that they both edited at different times, engaged in bribery, phone hacking and possibly even computer hacking in pursuit of stories.
The International Federation of Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists both promote ethical standards in journalism. A history of the development of journalistic codes of ethics can be found here. Ethics and standards of professionalism are not new, but the egregious manner in which they were ignored or violated by Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire is astounding.
Clearly, ethics were not emphasized nearly enough in Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets as the scandal has now spread from the U.K. to the U.S. What’s frightening is that the two former editors at the heart of the hacking scandal were close to Murdoch. Their denial of knowledge and even use of official bribery speaks volumes about Murdoch himself.
Rupert Murdoch’s media empire stretches across the globe with major outlets in Australia, the U.K., America, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Since corporate cultures flow from the top down, basic lessons in ethics might be needed. After all, if the top of the Corporate empire allowed such ethical lapses either inadvertently or overtly, then you can’t expect those at the bottom to act differently.
Photo from Dow Jones