Incidences of honor killings are not specific to any culture, religion or country. Although the international media has been covering honor killings, some people have different opinions regarding the biases involved in covering the news. The public is of the view that selected incidences of honor killings find their way to the news media while some disappear without their knowledge (Black & Roberts, 2011). Similarly, the media covers some cases as honor killings when they are not. A group of international media such as Washington Post and New York Times covered an incidence of honor killings of Hindu Couples in India (Chesler & Bloom, 2012). They also covered an occurrence in Iran. The international media explain honor killings as an incidence of culture clash that involves minorities and immigrants in foreign countries. The ethical issue is that does the international media coverage of honor killings in Islamic states, and South East Asian countries facilitate the public’s negative perception of Muslims and Indians being barbaric and uncivilized.
In this situation, the facts that have the most bearing regarding the ethical decision to be rendered include the following. First, the international media coverage of honor killings depicts how the public should perceive the Muslims and Indians. Second, some groups of human rights activists have moved to request the international media to verify their facts about the honor killings before airing to the public. Thirds, both the Islamic states and South East Asian countries demand the media to stand against the biases of culture and religion, and they should cover honor killings based on human dimension. Fourth, the international media is continuing with its coverage of honor killings. Fifth, as a media practitioner and a decision maker in this scenario, I am fully aware that Muslims and Indians are negatively affected by the international media coverage of honor killings.
In addition, the external and internal factors that need to be considered in this case include the following. The international media needs to consider the interest of the affected culture and religion (Chesler & Bloom, 2012). Moreover, the media should consider the consequences of covering honor killings. The other special consideration is whether the international media are using their coverage of honor killings to boost their newspaper circulation. Lastly, the international media should consider the privacy of the relatives and family of the affected group. In this case, the claimants include news reporters, Islamic states and South East Asian countries, the society, families and human rights activists. First, the media reporters have the responsibility to protect their right, collect and disseminate information that they feel is relevant to the world, regardless of the opinion of the public. Therefore, the news reporters exhibit a duty of self-improvement whereby they act to protect themselves. Also, they have a duty of fidelity to their profession and the society.
The second claimant is the society. The international media such as Washington Post and New York Times have the duty to report the news and provide information that is relevant to the society. The society depends on them to get information that promotes their interest (Bivins, 2009). The coverage of honor killings by the international media hurts the society because it promotes biases of religion and culture (Chester & Bloom, 2012). However, the media also plays a critical role in providing the society with current information about honor killings since it against the law. Therefore, the international media have the duty to non-injury to the society. Despite the media’s actions that discriminate certain culture and religion, the society appreciates their actions of covering honor killings. In this case, the society has a duty of gratitude to the media.
Third, the Islamic states and South East Asian countries feel that the international media is biased against their culture and religion. Similarly, they have the opinion that the media report on honor killings when actually it is not. They prefer the media to come up clearly and verify the news before publishing or airing to the public. The international media has a duty to the non-injury to the Islamic states and South East Asian countries. In addition, they have a duty to fidelity not to disseminate information that has not been verified. Fourth, families seek to maintain their culture and religion by ensuring that the family members adhere to their tradition. Families of the affected group would prefer the media not to reveal their identity to the public. Similarly, they are vulnerable to the negative perception from the public even if the media would try to hide their identity. As a media practitioner, I am obligated to the duty of non-injury to the families, and this would entail not to engage in any activity that would violate the privacy of the affected group. Similarly, I am obligated to the duty of harm prevention by ensuring that the family the coverage on honor killings does not bring any psychological harm to the families.
Fifth, the human rights activist might feel that the international media is perpetuating the negative perception of Muslims and Indians who are stereotyped as barbaric and uncivilized. Moreover, they believe that the international media does not convey the news in a proper manner and that it violates the human rights. The media has the duty of fidelity to the human rights activist by giving them the right information that is free from deception. In addition, the international media has the duty of justice to the human right activists since it acts in a way that distributes benefits and burden fairly.
On the other hand, the ideals, in this case, include the following. The society, families, human rights activists, Islamic states and South East Asian countries have the freedom of choice. The international media, which entails the newspapers, published and journalists have freedom of speech. Similarly, the Islamic states and South East Asian countries have freedom from harm. Lastly, we have respect for the immigrants and the minority groups such as Muslims and Asians. However, some of these ideals conflict with each other as explained below. Evidently, human rights activists favor stopping the international media from covering honor killings since they think that the action perpetuates biases. This will conflict with media’s freedom of speech. The international media has the obligation to the dissemination of relevant information that is of concern to the society; however, this might conflict with the Islamic states and South East Asian ideals, which entails their opinions and freedom from harm. As a media practitioner, I will honor freedom of the media to give a free speech as an Ideal and ensure that it does not harm the society or Islamic states and South East Asian countries. Moreover, I will make sure that the media does not use the news on Honor killings to for its own interest.
For this case, my options that each of the affected subjects would be favored include the following. First, the international media should discontinue the airing and publishing honor killings. The human rights activist, families, and Islamic states and South East Asian countries would favor this option. Second, the international media should continue with covering honor killings. The news reporters and the society would favor this option. Third, the international media should continue with covering honor killings but offer to verify the information before sending it to the public. Also, they should offer not to exhibit biases to religion and culture of a particular group (Bivins, 2009). All the options listed above could cause harm to the affected party; however, the amount of damage would differ. Some options would be invalidated by honoring of ideals. The second option requires the international media to discontinue covering honor killings. Therefore, honoring freedom of the media to give a free speech would invalidate the first option.
According to the code of the Society for Professional Journalists (2014), Journalists have the responsibility to provide the public with information that is relevant and favor their interest. Similarly, one of the core principles of journalism requires journalists to strive for truth and accuracy of information. Journalists should ensure the information presented to the public has been verified. They should come out clearly, if they cannot corroborate information (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014). Moreover, Journalists should portray humanity by ensuring that what they publish do not harm. Therefore, they should be aware of the impact of their actions. For this case, I do not believe coverage of honor killings affects the interest of the society, families, and Islamic states and South East Asian countries. This codes and principle would automatically invalidate the first option that requires the media to discontinue publishing and airing honor killings.
The theory of egoism is applicable in this scenario. It could be what drives the international media to continue publishing and broadcasting honor killings because it will increase their sales. However, given the principles of journalism and code of SPJ and the importance of honor killings to the society, the international media does not portray egoism. Second, Ross’s prima facie duties are applicable in various ways. The international media with their newspapers and television news have a duty of fidelity to the society. It is responsible for bringing news to the society that they think is relevant (Straubhaar, LaRose & Davenport, 2010). The duty of beneficence is applicable because when the media cover stories on honor killings, they help the society to be aware of the crime that some culture or religion portray. The duty of non-injury will have the international media consider the harmful effect of publishing and airing honor killings to the families and Islamic states and South East Asian countries. Lastly, concerning utilitarian theory, the society represents the majority group. Therefore, by continuing to publish and air stories on honor killings, the international media would be considering the interest of the society since they are the majority.
The course of action based on the above analysis would include continuing to publish and air stories on honor killings. However, I will ensure that the information provided to the public is verified, truthful and is not biased towards particular culture and religion. Moreover, I will try to engage the society, families, human rights activists and citizens from Islamic states and South East Asian countries by responding to their complaints through editorial columns and social media platforms.
In defense of my decision, those individuals who seek to prevent the international media from publishing and airing stories on honor killings claim that it perpetuate negative attitudes towards particular religion and culture. Although their argument seems reasonable, as an international media we are obligated to give the society information about the extreme violence involved in honor killings and how it is against the law to take such actions. Therefore, as a democratic and civilized society, citizens have the right explore various issues that might help them make right decisions (Black & Roberts, 2011). On the same note, you might disagree with our publications and coverage since they conflict with your opinions, but we take the responsibility of working on behalf of the citizens to present relevant news. As international media, we are concerned with your interest; therefore, we will continue to engage you in various discussions by responding to your complaints. Besides, we shall reserve the right to issue our judgment as required by our training. Ultimately, we are concerned with the interest of the society, it would be offensive to publish, and air stories that stereotype particular culture and religion. Limitations on the public and media’s freedom of expression will only do harm by destroying democracy in this country.
Bivins, T. (2009). Mixed media: Moral distinctions in advertising, public relations, and journalism. Routledge.
Black, J., & Roberts, C. (2011). Doing ethics in media: Theories and practical applications. Taylor & Francis.
Chesler, P., & Bloom, N. (2012, June 22). Hindu vs. Muslim Honor Killings. Middle East Quarterly, 19(3), 43-52.
Society of Professional Journalists. (2014, September 6). SPJ Code of Ethics: Improving and protecting journalism since 1909. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
Straubhaar, J. D., LaRose, R., & Davenport, L. (2010). Media now: Understanding media, culture, and technology. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
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