Effectively Using Consumerism – Let’s Make it Matter
Have you ever wondered what has happened to basic honesty and integrity?
As I pondered this dilemma the culprit slowly emerged for me. Over the past two decades, there has been a steady erosion of integrity in industries where self-policing has flourished and transparency has diminished.
Denial of Transparency
Prime examples of these industries are law enforcement, government, and journalism. Having previously covered how to combat these issues in law enforcement and government; I’d like to turn my attention toward journalism. The common thread among these industries (and a particularly disturbing fact) is that each industry has chosen to protect its failings from public scrutiny by denying transparency.
Law enforcement and government have received the benefit of legislation exempting the disclosure or personnel records or investigations by state statute, allowing administrators to hide individual and even widespread organizational corruption from public disclosure.
Contempt for the Public
It has been said, “It is clear, lack of transparency only breeds contempt for the public, and hinders the industries willingness to properly police itself.” 1 We have seen the manifestation of violence demonstrating the loss of credibility and respect from the public toward law enforcement over two past years. The recent election bears witness to the public’s loss of trust in the government’s credibility, and if real and lasting corrections aren’t made, the pendulum will swing back fully in the opposite direction.
Voter Apathy Has Allowed the Government Corruption
The power to implement change in any service organization always rests with the consumer. The fear of retaliation dealing with a governmental agency, the assumption an individual consumer is powerless to affect change, and individual complacency all diminish our power. For years, individuals have refused to challenge the status quo of secrecy surrounding law enforcement internal investigations to the point where vigilante justice is now being sought inappropriately. Voter apathy has allowed the government corruption we are now incensed with, and unwillingness to change the channel when a news reporter comes on who has been exposed for unethical behavior has enabled the proliferation of false narrative news reporting.
The common thread in each of these examples is the unwillingness of the industry to appropriately self-police, coupled with the ability to prevent public transparency or public scrutiny. In law enforcement, the public and media constantly run up against the personnel exemptions found in State statutes preventing disclosure. Politicians refuse to thoroughly expose or hold their peers accountable, and in my opinion, have gone so far as to protect unethical and in some instances illegal behavior. The same behavior is now being observed within the media.
Code of Ethics
The preamble of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states; “Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.” The code of ethics also lays out four guiding principles:
- Seek Truth and Report It
- Minimize Harm
- Act Independently
- Be Accountable And Transparent
Yet once again a brief survey of the media practices demonstrates a lack of adherence to their own professional standards, not unlike law enforcement or government behaviors:
- Dan Rather fails to verify veracity of source.
- Brian Williams in a helicopter hit by RPG.
- Megyn Kelly’s Book Review Manipulation by someone – Not Investigated by media even when confronted with documentation contradicting reports.
- Hillary Clinton landing in Bosnia under sniper fire.
Lack of Professionalism and Transparency
Still, the media squawks about how others are not adhering to established professional standards while clearly refusing to hold themselves or each other to their own professional Code of Ethics is the height of hypocrisy. While Brian Williams was suspended for a few months, he is back on the air. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and others were alerted to the issues with Megyn Kelly’s book reviews but chose to ignore the story displaying a clear lack or professionalism and transparency.
The only portion of the Journalists Code of Ethics appearing to have any validity is the disclaimer found in the final sentence, “It is not, nor can it be under the First Amendment, legally enforceable.”
It is time that WE make journalistic ethics matter– using the only means available to us that actually works – consumerism. #LetsMakeItMatter