Ethical Tensions in News Making

What Journalism Has in Common with Other Professions

Authored by: Sandra L. Borden , Peggy Bowers

The Routledge Handbook of Mass Media Ethics

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138681323
eBook ISBN: 9781315545929
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter draws parallels between journalism and other professions to illustrate key ethical tensions that cut across domains. The essay begins with an overview of the literature on professionalism and how it has been used in journalism studies before turning to professionalism’s relationship to ethics. The analysis centralizes ethical concerns regarding epistemology and identity to derive the following ethical tensions: the tension between attachment and disinterest; the tension between authority and fallibility; the tension between autonomy and accountability; the tension between individual and community; and the tension between procedure and substance. In discussing these tensions, this essay suggests parallels with medicine, the academy, engineering, public administration, and law. The chapter ends with suggestions for future research.

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