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Ethics

Media Ethics and Law – Free Expression Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Introduction

Notably, the current global developments are influenced by the aspects of communication, partnerships, and information distribution. Contextually, free expression/speech can be defined as an individual’s right to communicate his or her ideologies devoid of any legal, political, or social hindrance.

For example, In Saudi Arabia, freedom of speech is under the protection of Shariah laws; nonetheless, its implementation and fortification are yet to turn up (Karlekar, 2008). Globally, media ethics, law, and free expression correlate in various aspects. People have the right to access information and express themselves freely as indicated earlier. The establishment of mass ethics and law has occurred to enhance the development of sovereign and eminence media as well as information content.

This is a crucial provision when considered critically. This paper discusses the aspects of freedom of speech and censorship in regard to media ethics and law. Additionally, it provides literal examples to support the alleged issues regarding free expression. It is vital to agree that free expression or speech is a critical provision in the current world; nonetheless, its establishment, implementation, and protection are still negligible in the current media ethics and law.

Major Arguments

As claimed, free expression and responsibility are both significant factors in regard to media ethics and laws (Anokari, 2004). However, there is a major disparity of opinions as to which side the society needs to incline to it. This is a great challenge to all media communicators.

Probably, it could be a media personality trying to exercise freedom while destroying the reputation of an individual for a beneficial purpose, or the top management of an advertising organization contemplating over a suitable creativity bounds in relation to an anti-abortion advert that could well upset feelings on either side on the subject and at the same time be able to draw the attention of several people.

In these circumstances, should the superseding value be free expression or should the media agency take other issues into consideration and avoid exploiting their freedom fully? This is a topic that has raised questions and arguments in many discussions (Freedomhouse, 2012). In diverse contexts, media freedom and expression are analyzed while taking media ethics and laws into consideration. This is conventionally applicable in various countries.

For example, the first amendment of the federal laws provides for the free expression to every individual, and this offers the mass media houses with ethical freedom to make their own resolutions on whether to be responsible or not (Yalof & Dautrich, 2002).

However, if their resolutions are viewed as constantly irresponsible, more often than not, the consequence has been an increase in public or even government pressure to limit media freedom in support of increased media responsibility. This is an impending challenge for the news media, though it is already taking its effects for advertising and entertainment industries, which are currently being controlled more compared to news media.

However, most researchers approves that freedom and responsibility are both significant aspects for proper functioning of mass media in the society (Cohen-Almagor, 2001). Mass media and press freedom was encroached in the U.S following the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center and Pentagon. The intrusions were supported and effected for the sake of national security probably most outstandingly in the USA patriot Act of 2001.

Even though comparatively few individuals opposed these changes at that time, more disapproval has been voiced after some time and additional examination has raised alarms about the major values vulnerable to national security concerns. Between 2005 and 2006, some alterations were made in the law, though criticizers persisted to express apprehension about the law’s destruction to the freedoms of expression.

Restricting the free expression, even during periods of war, is detrimental to national security since it weakens the democratic process, which necessitates the free expression. It is the foundation of democratic privileges and freedoms (Dennis, 1989).

Another example is that in Saudi Arabia, the Media and Communications’ Shariah (a legal provision) has limited structures that legally protect the free expression (Laanoi, 2009). It is imperative to agree that most countries have established viable policies to govern and promote the aspects of freedom of speech.

However, full implementation of such laws is yet to occur in some countries due to prejudicial laws and dictatorial regimes embraced in such countries. Due to Arabian cultural and legal provisions, mass media organizations still experience some restrictions regarding the types of information that they can release to the public. At some points, it is noticeable that the government has not protected the provisions of freedom of speech as expected by the law.

It is imperative to highlight the aspects of censorship in some countries. This should occur in regard to media ethics and laws that govern such provisions. For example, the incidences of censorship are still evident in Saudi Arabia despite oppositions from the human rights lobby groups and other activists.

Nevertheless, the situation has been changing gradually to accommodate modern implications of communication and freedom of speech as demanded by the international community. Under the Shariah provisions, mass media organizations have their operations challenged in Saudi Arabia. Despite the absence of adequate instruments to implement legal provisions protecting the freedom of speech, the current Saudi Arabian media Act (2007) has well-orchestrated structures in regard to this (Puddington, 2008).

Structures exist to ensure that every Saudi Arabian enjoys his or her right to information and free expression. Internationally, the country has adopted Article 19-20 of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), which allows everyone to hold diverse ideologies on contentious issues. ICCPR also promotes free expression and other related provisions. Precisely, Saudi Arabia has established credible policies to help in promoting the aspects of freedom of speech and mass media rights.

However, there are no adequate instruments to help in the implementation of the set laws. It depends on how the government and other concerned entities perceive some information in regard to public utilization (Martinez, 2012). The government or media outlets might perceive some information as damaging, sensitive, or inconvenient to the public hence endorsing stringent censorship as a protective measure.

Various countries and private organizations have different ways through which they can impose censorship on some speeches and information before distribution them to the entire public. In numerous contexts, censorship defies the principles governing the freedom of speech. It endorses unconstructive restrictions to communication provisions hence hindering free expression.

Conventionally, free expression is a global prerequisite embraced in various countries. It is crucial to notice that everyone has a right to self-expression; however, most countries have not adopted this provision (Kersch 2003). Globally, various countries have tried to adopt the provisions of freedom of speech.

Nevertheless, the degree of implementation varies considerably due to differences in constitutional provisions, vast impunity, and government’s commitment in ensuring that citizens attain the needed freedom of speech. Concurrently, mass media organizations experience varying legal challenges while executing their duties. This varies from one country to the next (Puddington, 2008).

Normally, people should enjoy the right to information and free expression as indicated earlier. Conversely, some governments and other authorized bodies have been practicing censorship in order to suppress the freedom of speech and public communication provisions.

This is evident in some countries that have not realized the importance of freedom of speech. Precisely, the current Shariah of Saudi Arabia has hardly protected the aspects of freedom of speech and media freedom as indicated earlier. This is a critical provision in the context of free expression.

It is imperative to agree that freedom of speech is a critical provision in the present world; however, its establishment, implementation, and protection in Saudi Arabia are still at their infancy. Mass media and freedom of speech correlate in various contexts. It is crucial to consider this provision in regard to constitutional implementation. Various countries have hardly established, implemented, and embraced freedom of speech as demanded by the law.

Mass media outlets are still struggling to attain full autonomy in regard to free expression and access to vital information. Nonetheless, the new media laws embraced by some countries have created critical provisions to enhance the aspects of free expression. Conversely, censorship (in the mass media) is evident in various contexts. Most governments and private organizations have tried to suppress freedom of speech based on varying reasons.

In other contexts, some citizens and media workers can hardly exploit their right to express themselves efficiently or even participate in communal decision-making. This mostly occurs if they lack ethical ideologies or when they are not able to express opinions freely. Thus, free expression is very significant for a person’s dignity and participation, responsibility and democracy (McQuail, 2003).

Damages to free expressions, in most cases, go together with other damages, especially the right to freedom of relationship and assemblage. Freedom of the press is possibly as significant to democracy as the freedom of speech with the present impetuous into the convolutions of the information age.

These two freedoms safeguard people while expressing their ideas and views and the capacity of news and information channels to offer residents with the information they require not only rule themselves but also to use their votes prudently. Certainly, the First Amendment also defends communications of far lesser significance but even so remains the core of the American democracy (Wells, 1997). This is a vital provision in the context of free expression.

Another notable example is that in the year 1974, Chief Justice Warren Burger, while writing for a supreme court, pointed out that the First Amendment (in the American context) provides for a free press but do not need a responsible press. This was part of the dismissal of Florida law by the Supreme Court, requiring newspapers to offer a precise response space to political candidates whom they had criticized on their newspaper pages.

This decision represented the view of individuals who believed that free expression should never be jeopardized even in the service demanding accountable usage of that freedom (Trager & Dickerson, 1999). Obviously, providing such degree of freedom to the media results into substantial distress in some sections of the society, and occasionally, to potentially challenging or even risky situations.

However, there is no difference from the dangers accepted by adopting democracy as preferred form of government. In a self-governing society, individuals have the final power to resolve and they hold that power even if large section of people considers their resolutions to be wrong. The remedy for wrong resolutions is to join the political fights and influence adequate number of people to make appropriate resolutions in the future (Nikoltchev, 2005).

Ethical considerations are also a threat to First Amendments on media freedom. However, ethics influences should never be allowed to wear down freedoms of expressions and press. The best situation will involve integrating both free expression and responsibility in exercising that freedom.

Even though human nature will continuously want to misuse guaranteed freedoms of expressions, it should be viewed as a cost of carrying out business in an environment where individuals value the right to express themselves freely, which must be protected.

Conventionally, ethics incorporates core values and principles that guide execution of activities in various settings. The values are crucial in ensuring the realization of accurate results and quality performance in the media. Media professions and activities have ethical standards that participating members are expected to conform to with diligence.

The standards are set to foster sanity and facilitate execution of activities with utmost decorum. As noted, ethical principles are critical in the context of free expression. That is, the guidelines advance sanity and the realization of factual results.

Ethical standards in the media settings require reporters to practice fairness, display subjective respect, exhibit confidentiality, and formulate structured methods of communication. This is to enhance social coherence and build a strong relationship between individuals and media houses. This is a critical provision in the context of free expression.

Basically, code of ethics is guiding principles and values that guide reporters in their daily activities and enhance their quests for free expression. The ethical standards are set with an aim to ensure acquisition of credible information from the respondents. For example, the acts of arrogance or lack of respect to respondents by media practitioners is detrimental when exercising free expression (Warburton, 2009).

This explains the reason for the development of viable ethical principles in the context of media ethics and law. Considerably, the identified code of ethics, include fairness, respect to human dignity and confidential management of information. Researchers should exercise equality ideals when engaging the participants.

The ethical codes of engagement are identified based on the media’s judgment of their relevance in steering the planned activities. Reporters and media players should hold the capacity to foster social integration and mutual understanding that is significant in aiding the realization of reliable free expression. This ethical principle forms the most important section that is quite valuable to researchers.

This is to foster viable free expression that is characterized by absolute consistency. In this regard, the media should exercise fairness and justice when conducting the study. Respect to human dignity forms a formidable ethical value that media players must display. Respect for persons requires reporters to understand the subjective nature of respondents and their capacity (Gelber, 2011).

It entails operations without disregard to individual’s decisions and protection from integrity risks. To attain effective and qualitative results in various studies, media players should respect human dignity. That is, they should embrace their decisions and protect their interest since everyone has a different opinion on any issues.

Respect earns trust and secures excellent interrelations between the researcher and the respondents. Contextually, the media players are expected to employ respect as foremost principle to foster the media ethics and law. Contextually, this will avert possible resistance from the potential respondents thus forming a critical provision in various aspects.

Conclusion

Free expression/speech refers to an individual’s right to communicate his or her ideologies devoid of any legal, political, or social hindrance. This is a critical provision in the context of media ethics and law. The establishment of mass ethics and law has occurred to enhance the development of sovereign and eminence media as well as information content.

This is a crucial provision when considered critically. Free expression is a global prerequisite embraced in various countries. It is vital to notice that everyone has a right to self-expression; however, most countries have not adopted this provision comprehensively. Globally, various countries have tried to adopt the provisions of freedom of speech.

Nevertheless, the degree of implementation varies considerably due to differences in constitutional provisions, vast impunity, and government’s commitment in ensuring that citizens attain the needed freedom of speech.

Principally, code of ethics is guiding principles and values that guide reporters in their daily activities and enhance their quests for free expression. The ethical standards are set with an aim to ensure acquisition of credible information from the respondents. This is a critical provision in the context of free expression.

References

Anokari, N. (2004). Mass media law and ethics: Ethics and law for journalists. Port Harcourt [Nigeria: Ano Publications Co.

Cohen-Almagor, R. (2001). Speech, media and ethics: The limits of free expression: critical studies on free expression, freedom of the press and the public’s right to know. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Dennis, E. (1989). Media freedom and accountability. New York u.a: Greenwood Press.

Freedomhouse (2012). Free expression. Retrieved from https://freedomhouse.org/issues/freedom-expression

Gelber, K. (2011). Political Culture, Flag Use and Freedom of Speech. Political Studies. 60(1): 163–179.

Karlekar, K. (2008). Freedom of the Press 2007: A Global Survey of Media Independence. New York, NY: Freedom House.

Kersch, K. (2003). Freedom of Speech: Rights and Liberties under the Law. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Laanoi, S. (2009). The Saudi Arabia Media Act 2007. Web.

Martinez, E. (2012).Field Theory, Cultural Capital, and the First Amendment: Two Paradoxes in the Legitimation of News. Law & Social Inquiry. 37(1): 58–88.

McQuail, D. (2003). Media accountability and freedom of publication. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press.

Nikoltchev, S. (2005). Political debate and the role of the media: The fragility of free speech. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publ.

Puddington, A. (2008). Freedom in the World 2008: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties. New York, NY: Freedom House.

Trager, R & Dickerson, L. (1999). Free expression in the 21st century. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Pine Forge Press.

Warburton, N. (2009). Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Wells, A. (1997). Mass media & society. Greenwich, Conn. [u.a.: Ablex Publ.

Yalof, A. & Dautrich, K. (2002). The First Amendment and the media in the court of public opinion. Cambridge U.K: Cambridge University Press.

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