Journalism, Ethics and Accountability: Evaluating the Virtues of Self-Regulation
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation questions whether the current system of journalistic self-regulation in Australia can give effect to ethical journalism given the conceptual paradigms that have informed its understanding of journalism and journalism ethics. It argues the ideological focus of journalistic self-regulation has constrained the current system's ability to encourage ethical journalism. By taking a grounded theory approach to developing an alternative theory of journalism, this study attempts to fill a void in the reform of journalistic self-regulation in Australia by first highlighting the shortfall in recent reviews. It then argues reform must address the ideological focus of the journalism industry. This means looking at the ideologies espoused in the industry codes. It also means looking at the ideologies that frame how values reflected in the codes are interpreted. In summary, my aim in this dissertation is to articulate a praxis-driven theory of journalism by which to examine the suitability of the Australian self-regulatory environment to give effect to ethical journalism. This will be done by: mapping the current system of journalistic self-regulation; distilling the ideological foci of contemporary interpretations of journalism and journalism ethics; postulating an alternative theory of journalism as practice; evaluating the current system of self-regulation in light of the theory of journalism as practice; and recommending an alternative model of self-regulation that takes account of the theory of journalism as practice. The grounded theory approach to this study involves a textual analysis of a representative sample of self-regulatory codes to identify deficiencies in the way philosophical understandings of identity and ethics have been applied to journalism. By highlighting the gaps in the conceptual paradigm that frames the current theories of journalism and journalism ethics, I offer insights into key problems facing industry self-regulation. Given its grounding in substantive data analysis, the theory developed in this study is able to offer significant insights into ways of improving journalistic self-regulation to encourage ethical journalism. By categorising the self-regulatory codes according to ideology, I aim to explain how core journalistic values can be marginalized. Thus, this study aims to reveal problems with the way in which journalism self-regulation has been conceptualised and operationalised. In this way, it uses the tools of meta-ethics and normative ethics to analyse an ethical problem. Thus the grounded theory emerging from this study falls into the conceptual category of applied ethics. This approach offers a flexible methodology that allows the development of an emergent theory based on raw data derived from the various codes that operate within the journalistic self-regulatory environment. The research problem starts broadly, looking at the ability of the current system of journalistic self-regulation to encourage ethical journalism. The focus of the study is on organizational ideology and conceptions of journalism, rather than individual values of journalists. Through a process of constant comparison I will focus the research problem, constructing a theoretical framework to evaluate whether the current system of journalistic self-regulation can encourage ethical journalism. To achieve these objectives, the study will canvass both process (the ability of self-regulation to give effect to ethical journalism) and action (building a theoretical framework for conceptualising reform). A grounded theory approach offers a way of categorising conceptions of journalism and self-regulation allowing me to develop an alternative theory of journalism that promotes a holistic approach to journalism ethics. This study does not purport to offer final solutions to the ethical problems within Australian journalism. It does, however, aim to present an alternative pathway towards reform of journalistic self-regulation in Australia that focuses on encouraging ethical journalism and expanding the theoretical paradigms that shape current approaches to ethics.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Arts, Media and Culture
Item Access Status