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How to be an ethical journalist when covering news in foreign countries?

As a French person living in the United States, I sometimes get offended by the coverage made by American journalists about my home country. And when I go back to France and hear about what is happening in the U.S., I also sometimes get surprized. So why is that? Aren’t news supposed to be about true facts? A fact is a fact, it isn’t supposed to change from a country to another. If American news report a wildfire in California, why is all of a sudden, the entire United-States burning in foreign news?

In this paper I want to try to find why this kind of distortions of the truth happen, and I will try to find some solutions to fix it.

I will, among others, take a look at translation issues, generalization, misunderstandig of different cultures, etc. I will also talk about how the public reacts to those errors that can sometimes have terrible consequences and how those errors have been corrected in the past.

In order to right an accurate paper, I will use concrete examples and reliable sources such as the Global Media Ethics Center, The Center for International Media Ethics and iMediaEthics. As an intern at PRI’s The World, I cover international matters every day and will also use my own experience in this paper.

“One responsibility is to report issues and events in a way that reflects this global plurality of views; to practice a journalism that helps different groups understand each other better. Reports should be accurate, balanced and diverse, as judged from an international perspective. A biased and parochial journalism can wreak havoc in a tightly linked global world. Unless reported properly, North American readers may fail to understand the causes of violence in Middle East, or a famine in Africa. Biased reports may incite ethnic groups in a region to attack each other. A narrow-minded, patriotic news media can stampede populations into war. Moreover, journalism with a global perspective is needed to help citizens understand the daunting global problems of poverty, environmental degradation, technological inequalities and political instability,” Global Media Ethics.

I will write this paper in order for my topic to fit with my personal ethical guidelines. I think fairness, accuracy, accountability and minimizing harm are key to a better international coverage.

Picture credit: Pixabay, Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved.

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