Preacher’s Kid: Honest Faith, Real World

Preacher’s Kid: Honest Faith, Real World

Lack of news media ethics? Public’s hunger for the salacious doesn’t help

So, the Vatican has weighed in on the growing scandal with media mogul Rupert Murdock’s News of the World cell phone hacking scandal. The Holy See’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, opines that its high time the news media to adopt what His Holiness has termed “info-ethics.”


Pope Benedict

I heartily agree, as a veteran journalist who has watched my profession’s once-unassailable dedication to balance and fairness shredded over the years.

But let’s also be brutally honest: We are in a time when what is covered, and how it is covered is increasingly determined not by news value but the number of “hits” or “page views” a story might get on the Web.


Thoughtful, in-depth, responsible journalism just doesn’t pump up the “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) numbers like stories that appeal to the lowest moral/ethical denominator among readers — sex, scandal, celebrities in rehab and the latest misbehavings of Reality TV stars.

I used to be convinced that real journalists could exercise something called “news judgment,” and exercise professional detachment in telling all sides of a story. The best reporters and editors had those ethics, and integrity, albeit seasoned by cynicism that could be at times extreme.

As for the kind of appeal to the salacious that now is so mainstream in the media, that was reserved for those laughable, more-fiction-than-fact tabloids at the supermarket checkout counters.


Not any more. So, yes, journalism needs to adopt a set of ethics. Journalism needs to be responsible. Journalism needs to abide by the law — not hack into cell phones of murder victims, illegally obtain medical records or bribe public officials for juicy bits of “news.”

But journalism won’t be doing that, at least to any industry-wide extent, as long as there is a reading public hungry for their next voyeuristic news high.

True journalistic ethics reform ultimately rides on the tide of some recommitment to what’s right by the consumers — a public that, if the very salacious headlines they seem to hunger for so are representative, has lost its moral compass.

That condition, of course, is hardly new. Consider this advicefromf St. Paul, some 2,000 years ago. Isn’t the same regeneration he called for needed desperately today?


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Until humankind embraces such an attitude toward its “news,” I suspect we will continued to be trapped in an information landscape where the Golden Rule is ignored in favor of other, less gracious aphorisms: “Sex sells.” “If it bleeds, it leads.” And, as the News of the World scandal underscores, “The ends justify the means.”

Comments read comments(1)
post a comment

posted July 13, 2011 at 3:06 am

Unfortunately, even the news aggregation tools, such as Google or Bing News, perpetuate this trend – promoting the less-news-worthy-and-more-click-worthy stories. Further, all depth seems lost in made-for-TV worthy snippets without the journalistic integrity of my youth (seems funny typing that.)

Now, perhaps, the wary surfer will seek out sources of information that, like this blog, consistently present a perspective, morality and voice that is more easily identifiable and certainly more trustworthy.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Preacher's Kid. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration ...

posted 6:46:37pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

God be with you, 'til we meet again
So, after a year of posting Preacher's Kid, it's time to say farewell. I have so appreciated the opportunity to share my occasionally tortured faith, to relive the sweet and bitter and in between insights and experiences of life and the ...

posted 11:20:10pm Dec. 27, 2011 | read full post »

Christ not born on Dec. 25? 'Merry Christmas,' anyway
Some insist it's the “War on Christmas.” In some places of business, in some schools, in some government offices, saying “Merry ...

posted 6:44:22pm Dec. 23, 2011 | read full post »

A Congress Carol? Dickens' Scrooge listened, Washington is not.
It's odd what convergences of thought an occur when you see a well-done, live theater production of “A ...

posted 2:36:03pm Dec. 21, 2011 | read full post »

Was that lunch, or Our Lady of Cheddar and Christ in a chip?
Whenever I hear someone exclaim, “Christ on a crutch!” I usually point out there are at least a couple reasons the expression fails in the imagery department. First, scripture tells us he never had a broken bone. Second, if he had broken ...

posted 11:49:25am Dec. 19, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.