How ethical is journalism today

Media and ethicsJournalism: Things so to represent how you are

Journalists love storytelling, storytelling - so do their audiences. Does every detail have to be right? What is reality and what is really well told? The media scholars Tanjev Schultz, Tobias Eberwein and Wolfgang Schulz on ethical issues in journalism.

How can we tell whether a newspaper report is correct or a post on the Internet falsifies the facts? Does everything in a story really have to be exactly like this or are journalists allowed to embellish some things a little?

Such questions were the subject of the annual conference of the media ethics network. We have selected three lectures for you: About truth and falsification, fake news and serious journalism.

"It's about showing things as they are."

Everything I write is shaped by my personal view of things. Is objective reporting even possible? Tanjev Schultz is professor for journalism at the University of Mainz. His lecture deals with fundamental philosophical questions about subjectivity and objectivity.

For example, what about journalistic forms that are inherently subjective, a comment for example? Do these forms also have to contain objective elements?

"Did the child really sing? And if so, which song?"

The journalist Claas Relotius was admired for his great reports and their dense symbolism. He worked as a freelance journalist and later as a permanent editor at Der Spiegel magazine. In December 2018, the company made public that Claas Relotius had partly or wholly invented many of its reports.

Great interest in storytelling

Tobias Eberwein is a media scientist. In his lecture he examines the causes of Claas Relotius fraud and names many different factors: Relotius himself, the Spiegel editorial team. But maybe it also played a role that storytelling, storytelling, is so popular in journalism.

"Is it also permissible to use fictitious stylistic devices? Where are the limits to falsification?"

The information that we find on the Internet today is no longer generated by humans alone. Algorithms and artificial intelligence create content for which no one is responsible. That raises difficult legal questions. Incorrect information can arise and be disseminated, for example, by automated computer programs.

They cause damage in real life, for example with racist content. Who will be held accountable for this? The computer program? The programmer? Wolfgang Schulz explores these questions in his lecture. He is constitutional lawyer and director of the Leibniz Institute for Media Research in Hamburg.

Tanjev Schultz's lecture is entitled "The reporter's view from nowhere? Journalism in the tension between subjectivity and the claim to objectivity".

Tobias Eberwein's lecture is entitled "Say what could be: Truth and falsification in current narrative journalism. Media ethical considerations using the example of the Relotius case".

Wolfgang Schulz's lecture is entitled "Automated to the End of the Democratic Media Society? The Role of Ethics and Law in the Regulation of AI in Public Communication".

All three lectures were given on February 20th, 2020 at the Media and Truth Annual Conference of the Media Ethics Network at the University of Philosophy in Munich.