Media ethics in Uganda: perceptions of journalists and the public
Katamba, Mohammed G.
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Media ethics give journalism a professional look, and adherence to the ethics makes journalists professional. This study was set to find out the perceptions of journalists and the public about media ethics and adherence to media ethics in Uganda. It was set on the premise that some practices of the media are questionable when it comes to the expected ethical standards of their profession. The public has varying views about different media practices. This is likely to influence the general opinion, trust and credibility of the media (and its content) by the public. The study was set on the assumption that if journalists and media observed their ethics (which was studied looking at whether or not they use questionable practices) they would have high credibility among the public. The study was guided by the normative theory advanced by German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant advanced the “categorical imperative” where he argued that what is ethical or right is that action that an individual would be willing to have universalized as law (Christians, 2001). Views on the use of questionable media practices were collected using different questionnaires for the public (N=100) and journalists (N=82). Both categories of respondents were asked whether they approved the use of different questionable media practices. Journalists were also asked whether they would use the practices, and whether they had used them in the last 12 months. In addition, respondents were asked about other issues that would determine credibility of the media. Findings showed that the public and journalists would approve some of the questionable practices and not others. It was also discovered that deception by journalists was highly used as opposed to other questionable media practices. Although the questionable methods are not highly used, journalists need to have clear guidelines on how to respond under the circumstances. There is also need for a clear reporting policy and persons responsible to authorize the use of the questionable methods.