This research is carried out specifically carried out in order to point out some of the ethical problems that exist between the media and the military. The main research question guiding this study will be; does an ethical problem exist between the media and the military? The hypothesis for this study will therefore be; there is an ethical problem between the media and the military. The media in this study will be treated as dependent variables while the military the independent variable. The reason for doing so is that in our normal life scenarios, the military have been known to use force and may sometimes determine what is to aired or published b a particular company (Sweeney, 2006). Additionally, a media does not decide on what it airs but is usually determined by the content of what their clients provide. A study of this kind is aimed a shedding more light on the unethical handling of information between the military and the media. The public would therefore benefit from this study in the sense that they will be will be more vigilant and will scrutinize more the information they are give as it relates to the military.
Ethics is the act of doings things according to a certain level of accepted moral values of a particular society. An individual or a particular group is regarded ethical when he or she does what is right in the face of humanity. This however appears not to be the case with particular groups of the society like the military. Questions always arise on how the release their information as it relates to their operations. One is always kept wondering if the purpose of letting out the information is to gain popularity while in the real sense, lives are at risk. Ethical issues are also raised on the way the media release such information relating to military operation (Keeble, 2009). The sensitivity of such information keeps one wondering if they give out the information for the general knowledge of the public or to gain popularity.
It is important to note that, the 21st century is full of business completion and anything can be done so that profits are made. While doing this however, moral values are negated and thus raising questions on where and when the basics of humanity were lost. This study therefore seeks to validate the above testable hypothesis by providing the evidences where ethical issues between the media and the military have not been duly observed. People may consider such news and publications worth watching but most of them forget the moral values behind such news. A queer behavior has been observed among the populace in the sense that, people tend to follow news proceedings and even purchase more magazines whenever a they are related to the military operation (Cole, 2006). One of the perfect examples is the American military operation in Afghanistan in 2003. This operation received a lot of media coverage like no other and thus morally questionable.
Ethics in one the cherished values which humanity must bring forth at all times. This necessitates our reason for carrying out this study and it will only be meaningful upon identification of objectives for this study. The main purpose of this research is to identify the ethical problems that exist between the media and the military (Kieran, 1998). The research while being focused on this topic will seek to identify the reasons why the military release information regarding the activities they carry out. It will also seek to fine the reason why the media is always interested in sharing information while they obviously know that the lives of people are at risk.
The adequate performance of this research and evaluation of this subject will solely depend on the evidences from various articles relating to the same subject. Several authors have shared their arguments, contributed on different occasions, and given their verdict on this matter. One of the conclusions that they make is for the media and the military to have a rebirth of moral conscience and ethics within themselves as they consider sharing such information. Sweeney in his book “The military and the press: an uneasy truce”, gives a example of how the American war-time official have misused news to become a weapon of altering the opinion of the public and the morale of their troops (Sweeney, 2006). They do this he says, by controlling and influencing the press and planting them within the military units in Iraq.
He further provides a brief encounter of how the two parties have evolved in the 21st century and have become puppets of anti-ethicists. The do this, he opines, in order to meet the demands of the politics and economy, politics, legal and other social forces. He goes on to question the liberty of the press and the magnitude of evasion of ethics where writings are just made in the constitution, which are not later respected and rarely depend on public spirit and the government. He concludes by calling the patriotic press and radio to abstain voluntarily from giving detailed information especially about the movements of troops since this could harm their security (Sweeney, 2006).
Keeble, in his book “Ethics for journalist” describes how journalists are always obsessed with the way they share issues in their day-to-day life. Such issues are not generally limited to military issues but also extend to sex, sleaze, and sensationalism. He observes that, most of them broadcast to gain popularity without taking into consideration the effect it has on the populace. By doing this it observable that, the media are interested on issues that attract attention of the public and may otherwise be unethical. The author goes ahead a provide other ethical dilemmas and features a number interviews with renown journalists like Philip Knightley (Keeble, 2009). He also provides relevant ethical issues to anyone working on the media industry and provides strategies that are helpful improving the ethical standards of the media.
Cole on the other hand uses his book “Conflict, terrorism and the media in Asia” to describe how the media has been handling issues relating terrorism in Asia. He adequately analyses the role of media in these conflicts where it acts as a interlocutor while exercising its role of sharing information. The author concentrates in pointing out partialities that arise on media reporting various forms of political violence and conflict. The situation is even worse when he considers the media relation government military and the insurgents, which he says has led to escalation of violence because the coverage is mostly done in order to achieve particular political interest (Cole, 2006). The author gives an example of ethical conflict between the military and the media when he points out an incident where a television station was intimidated by the administration at Fox News and its coverage manipulated.
Successful collection of data and final analysis of results is dependent on the research methods used. During this research, the primary method used to collect information was in the form of a well-structured questionnaire with easy-t-understand question. The questionnaire was into three categories of people identified by the research panel. These were the public, the media, and the military. On the public, the questionnaire sought the opinion of the public regarding the coverage of the media as it relates to the military. The media on their part were to give their source of strength when it comes to sharing of information relating to the military. This method was used because of its ease in administering. It is less tedious, and asks direct questions that are easily understood by the respondent. Presence of the person administering the questionnaire is also advantageous because the respondent can be assisted whenever the questions may be confusing. This method is however time consuming.
Secondary methods of obtaining the information were also employed. In this research, further information were obtained from book in libraries and indexing. This method is advantageous because accurate data is obtained unlike the questionnaire, which may be biased. The method is however disadvantageous because the process of sifting information from the books is sometimes tedious and time consuming.
Results and findings
At end of the research, it was found out that an ethical problem exists relating to the media and military. It was clearly identified that the media had failed in the professional duty of sharing information equitably irrespective of the source. Failure to do so amounts to lack of professional ethics because they are selective in the sharing of information (Kieran, 1998). This is evidenced by the fact that, military operations are sensitive issues and are mostly followed by the public. It was realized that the media were cashing on this ‘weakness’ to make them popular without taking onto consideration it has on the public. This is clearly evidenced by the American operations on Afghanistan and Iraq where most media houses used to advance their revenues and popularity (Keeble, 2009).
Though it was found out that the military provide information for the benefit of public knowledge, very few of the do so with the aim of saving life. In fact, some military personnel confessed releasing the information to show their military prowess. This is a clear evidence of a society that is ethically rotten and destitute of human feelings. This is a clear prove that clearly shows existence of an ethical problem (Cole, 2006). As pointed out initially, an ethical problem exists from the media perspective especially when they decide to promote their websites using information that is clearly against the basic moral values of the society.
The act of releasing information prior to military information is also an unprofessional way of sharing sensitive issues. This is because the lives of the military personnel are placed at a high risk especially if the military operation involves combating a terrorist group (Kieran, 1998). Though the information may be good for the public, it would be unprofessional and unethical to expose critical information that may lead to lose of lives. Another ethical issue arose concerning journalism and ethics is when a photojournalist provides information about the activities of a terrorist group. Suppose he or she was the first one at the scene of a terrorist attack, one of the things that he will do is to gain the trust of the terrorists. An ethical question is however raised if the journalists should report them to the authorities or go ahead with their duties of saving lives (Sweeney, 2006).
It is evident from the research that a problem exist relating to ethics of the military and the media. The media have apparently decided to cash on military activities and promote their websites and failing to share information with impartiality. It is however necessary for this to be corrected so that ethics in the society can be upheld at the level of accepted standards, which can sustain the meaning of humanity and morality (Keeble, 2009).