Title

Commentator Ethics: A Policy

Publication Title

Journal of Mass Media Ethics

Publication Date

1999

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1207/S15327728JMME1404_3

Keywords

comkmentator ethics, policy

Disciplines

Communication | Ethics and Political Philosophy

Abstract

Much has been written about the right of the media to cover trial processes. Less has been written about their responsibilities when doing so. The latter point is emphasized in this essay. Balancing fundamental constitutional rights associated with media coverage of trials against the seemingly insatiable appetite of viewers for such mediated fare highlights the need for scholars to study the nature and possible effects of televised coverage of trial processes. One aspect of media coverage that has received relatively little attention is consideration of ethical issues surrounding media use of lawyers to comment on trials. Because of growing reliance on such commentary, the ethics of their behavior must be assessed. This article considers development of a policy (or code) to address the ethical dilemma: Should a media organization that uses lawyers to comment on trials adopt a policy establishing moral and ethical standards for such commentators? Both journalistic codes and current codes governing lawyers' behavior are considered.

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