Social Obligations

Combined, social, ethical and legal obligations are all vitally needed in the success of being a modern day journalist. All three equally are needed to provide accurate, logical and legal pieces that also back up the general media standards as commissioned by our country that deem all published content being legal, decent, honest and truthful.

Social Obligations. 

Social obligations by definition ‘are established over time based on social norms. Someone may attend a neighbourhood party even though the person isn’t friendly with many of the people in the neighbourhood. Some of the ways in which companies meet social obligations include donating to local charities, participating in community events and being transparent with the public.’[1] Although in regards to press and publishing the lines can be blurred as social obligations are most commonly categorized under social responsibility/social responsibility theory.  Social responsibility theory allows free press without any censorship but at the same time the content of the press should be discussed in public panel and media should accept any obligation from public interference or professional self-regulations or both. The theory lies between both authoritarian theory and libertarian theory because it gives total media freedom in one hand but the external controls in other hand. Here, the press ownership is private.  The social responsibility theory moves beyond the simple “Objective” reporting (facts reporting) to “Interpretative” reporting (investigative reporting).  The total news is complete facts and truthful but the commission of the freedom press stated that “No longer giving facts truthfully rather than give a necessary analysed or interpretative report on facts with clear explanations”.

The theory helped in creating professionalism in media by setting up a high level of accuracy, truth, and information. The commission of press council also included some tasks based on social responsibility of media, which are as follows:

  1. Formulate the code of conduct for the press.
  2. Improve the standards of journalism.
  3. Safeguarding the interests of journalism and journalist.
  4. Criticise and make some penalty for violating the code of conduct.

The Theory Allows

  1. Everyone to say something or express their opinion about the media.
  2. Community opinion, Consumer action and professional ethics.
  3. Serious invasion of recognized private rights and vital social interests.
  4. Private ownership in media may give better public service unless government has to take over to assure the public to provide better media service.
  5. Media must take care of social responsibility and if they do not, government or other organisation will do. [2

Cases- Social Responsibility

One example of where social responsibility was used effectively and non-effectively was in the following publication taken from an article centring around media and social responsibility.

‘The UK media is one of the most diverse in the world, and it is full of contradictions. On the one hand, you have the BBC, which generally has upheld pretty high standards of impartiality throughout its history, and is imbued with a public service ethos that has influenced many other followers across the world. It is deeply ironic that it is this institution that has been so unrelentingly savaged by the report of Lord Hutton.

On the other, you have the real shark pool. The tabloid newspapers that will quite cheerfully destroy anyone that gets in their way, and apparently likes nothing better than to chalk up the scalp of a government minister or celebrity following some vitriolic campaign. These are the companies that employ the paparazzi who hound celebrities without mercy. One UK newspaper recently took to publishing front page photographs of ‘upskirt’ shots of female celebrities.

The recent events with the BBC have thrown the issues into stark relief. On the one hand, Lord Hutton said that it was unacceptable that the BBC had carried inaccurate stories about the UK government ‘sexing up’ a dossier used as a basis for going to war against Iraq. Given the intense interest in the event – and the belief in some quarters that an unfavourable verdict by Hutton could have brought the Prime Minister down – there’s not much doubt of the stakes. And, whether one likes the Hutton report or not, it is evidently the case that the BBC made mistakes. In particular, its leaders were quick to defend a flawed story. In that case, it was inevitable that they would have to carry the can.

Interestingly, most of the British public would still trust the BBC more than they would the government. The fact is that, whatever failings the BBC evinced in its handling of this story, nobody believes that the Corporation had an agenda that was mischievous in intent. Many believe that the Government, on the other hand, had gone to war over a position that had proven to be mistaken, and had to defend itself against potentially fatal criticism. The real tragedy is that – mistakes notwithstanding – the crisis has robbed the BBC of leaders of real calibre and elsewhere in the world, where the trust in the brand was more fragile, there has been real damage. ‘[3]


Disclaimer- This for solely created and designed for a BTEC journalism class. 








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