Media Ethics In Professional Journalism: Political Marketing In Media And Ethics – Essay


Presumptions of the shaping up of political marketing in media and relations towards ethics sui generis and ethics per se, political culture.

Political culture, as the part of general culture, is entering of order into the political life, into the public field. Political culture is made of values, beliefs, assuredness, stands, symbols, styles and patterns of political acting and behavior of individuals and society.

Political culture critically makes influence on the selection of goals (and it raises ethical issues within it) and directions based on which individuals and a country are moving and develop. From the level of development of political culture depends orderliness of the political order and ethics of its own. As much as it is underdeveloped the political culture of individual that are bigger possibilities of   usurpation and manipulation. And vice versa, as much is developed political culture of individual, political community is more ordered. Within the forming of political culture of one society, the biggest responsibility lies on political and spiritual elites and elites of knowledge. Those elites, with the help of education and socialization, but also of indirect influence on upbringing, have a crucial role. Ethically, a great role has media as well – important are and responsible in regards the issue of forming, expansion and maintaining of the political culture of some individual, society and country.

Different kind of political cultures & dependency of the political culture

Within the authoritarian reigns dominates parochial and vassal political culture. These kind of political cultures suites authoritative potentates because it helps them to keep citizens in inferior position, in a status of immaturity and useableness for their own purposes. Members of parochial and vassal culture are completely uninterested for political life. They live a life of primeval communities, religious and family communal. They are harmless for the authority and easy to keep them within passivity. Vassals are aware of the authority of the power. Vassals, as persons, are authoritative ones as well.

Professional journalism does not exist in this kind of community. It exists only vassal journalism, and ethics which suits the authroty, nothing else.

Within the authoriative reigns media are in use only in propaganda and manipulative purpose. As the propaganda and manipulation is more stripped naked, consequences against those who confronts it are more vulgar and brutal (today: Uzbekistan, Belorusia, North Korea, China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia…yesterday: SSSR, South Korea, China, Iraq, Iran, Eastern block). 

Based on pure transmission, media are not public eye which should transfer what is going on in the society and country, but the mean for the transmission of the messages chosen by the rulers. In what rulers are choosing does not exist only propaganda and political marketing but also spiritual violence.

On other side, “in democratic reigns dominates participative political culture. It is a product of the development of citizen’s conscience within individual beings. They conscience comes as outcome of knowledge, adoption and living of freedom, rights and duties of the citizen.” Excellent starting point for the establishment of ethics which will follow and encourage professional standards of journalism.

Level of development of democratic political culture depends on accepting and practicing of universal values (truth, justice, good, love, beauty, freedom, human dignity and solidarity) as the measures for other values (individual and special ones). Political culture depends on the level of general citizen’s culture (its literacy – media one’s, especially, in this case); respect of personality, respect and guaranting of individual and collective rights, confidence between citizen’s and confidence between citizen’s and authority (we have mentioned professional journalists as the main pillow for the establishment of that – ethical ones, of course); readiness to defend a right on publicity and public spirit for all joint activities; and responsibility (individual and collective).

Besides all of these elements should be in practice the following means within political life: dialogue, tolerance, compromise, consensus, critics and control. That suites ethics and morality above all. The most important principles are:  principle of resignation; principle of removability and principle of limited mandate.

Professional journalists are not just transmitters of messages for the political marketing that makes influence of political culture, but as well, through their reaction on politics can contribute its development.

By choosing what will be transmitted and in which way, professional journalists can see their role within public space and in which way will influence on development of political culture.

So, let’s see how does the country of developed democracy such as it is USA, made possible regulation of radio diffusion, and all if it within the goal of Federal commission for communication (established in 1934) to balance natural forces (political and economic) that acts at the market and to encourage shows of public interest and to ensure their improvement. From the very beginning authorities were disconnected from interfering into the program content, and also has been disconnected obligation that everything which is broadcasted on the radio becomes available to everybody. Everything was lying down on the fact that to the factors of electronic media was given double function: function of journalists and function of mandatory in charge for public interest. 

That double function incorporate within itself tension between interest of the public (satisfying of the public as the response for the expectations of the market – ethically questionable, of course) and public interest (responsibility to tells the public – what the public can expect from the society and what society can expect from public).

There you can find, hidden, direction of political marketing and relations “society and public” as it is that society does not constitute the public, and vice versa. US Congress found a medial road between regulating which would establish too much discipline which should be violation towards freedom of expression and   freedom of the press. Solution was found within the following system of regulation: to the radio and TV stations were given licenses with the limitation of time duration, and can be extended under the condition that certain station respect obligation of public interest.

Doctrine of equality (1949-1987) – that fragile balance was reinforced with doctrine in 1949. This doctrine put upon radio stations two positive obligations: to have enough time for the shows dedicated to the discussion about the issues of public interest – ethics forces the respect of public interest – and to broadcast opposite opinions about all important issues. Supreme Court ruled decision in 1974 that application of that obligation in printed media is inadmissible. Ethically, within the application of this Doctrine, some issues have been raised and problems appeared. Namely, adrift to the estimation of Federal commission, which members are appointed by the President of USA, this doctrine in any case did not stop giving big advantage to the majority opinions. From other side development of cable TV and bigger offer of different and many programs have raised a question of pluralism in new way.

Much before removal of this Doctrine, Federal commission has identified that the views of minorities are not, in enough measure, presented on radio and adopts, in 1978, politics of giving advantages, in other words – encouraging minorities to conquer the media. 

However, here is rising the question of efficiency “within the politics of giving the advantages” because the forces of the market inducts tendency towards uniformity of programmatic offer; that the issue of relevance, because if somebody belong to the certain minority doesn’t not give by itself guarantee about coherence of the population within that  minority; and also the problem off assumed complex relation that exists between equal possibilities, ensured by procedural measures from one side, and freedom of expression, that cannot be jeopardized by state law, from other side. A lot of ethical questions as well, as you can see.

Communication act from 1995 have overthrown many barriers as regards ownership over the radio and TV stations,  satisfied a wishes and needs of communication industry, and in accordance to liberal logic, again return into the market – protection of interests.

There is one significant measure that has for a goal to protect public through the intervention of the state: it is related to violence, and, especially, for the principle decision that in any TV apparatus sold in USA should be put electronic chip (V-chip) that should enable parents to prevent kids to see those programs for which is considered that broadcast to much violence. What about the news, in that case? Every prime-time news headlines starts with violence, murders and blood. Internet no need to mention at all.

Invisible visible shape of political marketing in media, by the opinion of many western critics, was UNESCO’s (in 1978) titled: Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the. Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid, and Incitement to War.” Namely, due to them within it UNESCO saw intercession within the service of local authorities, under the robe of returning back the care on media to local communities, and  above all, the attempt to channel free flow of information and ideas, which is incompatible with liberal ways in communication.

Declaration of UNESCO, from other side, has encouraged professional journalistic associations to give “a special importance” to those principles, within their ethical codes and within the application of those Code of ethics. Even in 1983 have been formulated International principles of the journalistic professional ethics, with intention to serve as joint foundation and soured of the inspiration for national and regional ethical codes.

Within it has been found, clearly stated of first seven principles, found articles which are common to the huge number of existing codes. However, three last principles express main directions of the Declaration about constitution of “The new world information and communication order”. So, seeking for the information and truth as well as freedom of information have been targeted towards essential and politically motivated goals. When the cold war was over, not more political blocks in the World (is it?) and liberal principles of information and communications has been returned on scene. In November 1989, at the General assembly of UNESCO, by consensus have been adopted “New strategy of communication”. That strategy required that should be ensured “free flow of information” on both levels – national and international, as well as wider and more balanced diffusion of information, without any restriction of the freedom of expression. Again, it has been recognized that with media ethics should deal only professionals, and not authorities – not national or international ones.

European Union has always been, from other side, restrained, when we are talking about involvement in regulation of the media. Intervention within the journalistic practice journalistic norms by the side of EU stayed limited and it happened only in exceptional cases. European Parliament has adopted in 1994 resolution about the protection of secrecy of journalistic sources.

Most flaring initiative has been conducted when the assembly of European Parliament in 1993 adopted a Recommendation and Resolution about journalism ethics.

Within the recommendation was represented an opinion that should be considered establishment of the European mechanism of self-control of information. Within that European “ombudsman” for media should be represented international representatives, and, if it is possible, that it arises from analogue national agencies or mechanisms for self-control.

Within that recommendation was proposed, besides that, adoption of Declaration of ethics of journalism which principles were stated in resolution. Besides usual journalistic rules, there were points in resolution in which was striving to strengthen the right of public opinion in relation to freedom of entrepreneurs within the circulation of information and rights of journalist during the processing of information. International federation of journalists greeted those proposals, but within editorial orders has happened very live reactions that causes concussions, because the freedom of entrepreneurship was very clearly put in question (and by that freedom of involvement of political marketing). 

International federation of journalistic consider that this represent „one of the most serious threats for freedom and independence of media within last year’s”. 

Committee of Ministers of EU has decided to have decided not to support decision of the European assembly. According to the opinion of Council of Europe,  there was a risk that guidelines adopted by the European Assembly encourages political authorities for the violation of the freedom of the press under the excuse to improve more responsible journalism. 

Committie of Ministers explicitly was against an idea about „european ombudsman for media“ whose task would be to check out the accuracy of information. That institution would be in contradiction with the role of Council of Europe as guarant of the freedom of the press. Committie also did not estimate that is necessary to adopt declaration on journalism ethics, recognizing how much difficult would be to define objective presentation of information, exactly by the reason of existence of diverse editorial orientations that makes pluralism of media. But, Committee greeted all measures that encourage citizens for critical use of media, forming of stands towards media during educational, schooling process and constitution of the association of independent users. In other words, the door was widely open to neo-liberalism and political marketing in media – let us put everything at the information market and truth and objectivity will come up on the surface, forgetting manipulation as the basic assumption of the control of directed mind. 

Question to think about:  Does the level of orderliness of the political system depends on the level of development of the political culture and why?

Next: Media ethics in professional journalism: rational, emotional, motivational

Prof. Dr. Sabahudin Hadzialic

Prof. Dr. Sabahudin Hadzialic was born in 1960, in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 1964 he lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a professor (two doctoral degrees), scientist, writer & poet (distinguished artist by state), journalist, and editor. He wrote 26 books (textbooks for the Universities in BiH and abroad, books of poetry, prose, essays as well as) and his art and scientific work is translated in 25 world languages. He published books in BiH, Serbia, France, Switzerland, USA and Italy. He wrote more than 100 scientific papers. He is certified peer-reviewer (his citations appear in books and papers of scientists from all continents) for several European scientific journals. He participates within EU project funds and he is a member of scientific boards of Journals in Poland, India and the USA. He is a member of the Board of directors of IFSPD ( Also, he is a regular columnists & essayist and member of the Editorial board, since 2014, of Eurasia Review, think tank and journal of news & analysis from the USA. Since 2009 he is co-owner and Editor in chief of DIOGEN pro culture - magazine for culture, art, education and science from the USA. He is a member of major associations of writers in BiH, Serbia and Montenegro as well as Foundations (scientific and non-governmental) Associations worldwide. As professor he was/is teaching at the Universities in BiH, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and India. Detailed info:

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