Most of us spend time everyday viewing the news or getting information from the many forms of the media: radio, TV, newspapers and the internet. We all have different ways of getting our news and information. The Kyeong-Hyang Catholic magazine gives us this month some helpful pointers to look for when going to the media for information.
From his office the writer has a clear view of South Mountain in Seoul, but there are two windows, and each has a slightly different view of the mountain.This he compares to the way information comes to us. Information comes to us packaged by those who give us the news and information.
Media give us the windows through which we see world affairs directly or indirectly. The same incidents will be reported differently, and we understand what is happening according to the way it is being reported. When one goes to the news at 9:00pm at KBS or MBC you are given the way each one of these look upon what is happening in a different way.
We are influenced either knowingly or unknowingly and this in turn influences the society in which we live. The choice we make in the way we receive our information is not only a personal matter, but it also influences the society in which we live. We should make sure that the media we are using are not influencing us in a harmful way. We need the help of a code to help us in making decisions. Ethics in Communication from World Communication Day 2000 is such a code.
"The first duty of recipients of social communication is to be discerning and selective. They should inform themselves about media-- their structures, mode of operation, contents-- and make responsible choices, according to ethically sound criteria, about what to read or watch or listen to." (#25)
"Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow and flourish in respect to the full range of physical, intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual goods. Individuals have irreducible dignity and importance, and may never be sacrificed to collective interests." (#21)
"Thus, while social communication rightly looks to the needs and interests of particular groups, it should not do so in a way that sets one group against another--for example,in the name of class conflict, exaggerated nationalism, racial supremacy, ethnic cleansing, and the like. The virtue of solidarity, a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, ought to govern all areas of social life, economic, political, cultural, religious." (#22)
"Another relevant principle, already mentioned, concerns public participation in making decisions about communications policy. At all levels, this participation should be organized, systematic,, and genuinely representative, not skewed in favor of a particular group. The principle applies even, and perhaps especially, where media are privately owned and operated for profit." (#24)
He concludes that the influence of the media on our lives is enormous. The use of the media can be for the good or for evil. We have the responsibility of making the right choice.