Philosophical Foundationsfor Global Journalism EthicsStephen J. A. WardSchool of JournalismUniversity of British ColumbiaoThis article proposes 3 principles and 3 imperatives as the philosophical founda-tions of a global journalism ethics. The central claim is that the globalization of newsmedia requires a radical rethinking of the principles and standards of journalism eth-ics, through the adoption of a cosmopolitan attitude. The article explains how andwhy ethicists should construct a global journalism ethics, using a contractualist ap-proach. It then formulates 3 “claims” or principles: the claims of credibility, justifi-able consequence, and humanity. The claim of humanity is developed further by theformulation of 3 imperatives: to act as a global agent, to serve world citizens, and toenhance nonparochial understandings. The article concludes by considering someimplications of a cosmopolitan attitude for the practice of journalism.Any movement toward a global ethics for journalism should beginwith clear philosophical foundations. The central claim of this article isthat the development of these foundations will require the transforma-tion of existing concepts. The globalization of news media requires a rad-ical rethinking of the principles and standards of journalism ethics,through the adoption of a cosmopolitan attitude.Adopting a contractualist approach, this article proposes three princi-ples and three imperatives as the philosophical foundations of a globaljournalism ethics. It then formulates three “claims” or principles: theclaims of credibility, justifiable consequence, and humanity. The claim ofhumanity is developed further by the formulation of three imperatives:to act as a global agent, to serve world citizens, and to enhancenonparochial understandings. The article concludes by considering someimplications of a cosmopolitan attitude for practice of journalism.I consider my foundation to be tentative. The intent of this article is notto lay down absolute principles or to claim dogmatically that this is theonly approach possible. The intent is to make plausible proposals to stimu-late discussion and to gradually alter our perspective on journalism ethics.It is important to be clear about what I amnotarguing for in this article. Iam not arguing that all journalists or ethicists today would accept theseJournal of Mass Media Ethics,20(1), 3–21Copyright © 2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
principles and directives. I am not arguing that these principles are embod-ied in all of the many forms of journalism around the world. I am reinter-preting concepts to meet new problems and guide new forms of journal-ism. These ideas are put forward in an experimental spirit: Let us considerwhether these principles provide a framework from which to explore theissues and examine the consequences.
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