What social responsibility for the media?

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UP' offers you this analysis by François Borel-Hänni published on Youphil.com on May 16, 2014 on the "social responsibility" of the journalist. A subject that all of us in the editorial staff, since the beginning of our adventure, have dissected and to which we try to correspond through our multiple comments. 

Edwy Plenel, founder of Mediapart says: " ...Far from venturing on unexplored paths without a compass or experience, this symbol of a new digital press claims to be the symbol of an old tradition that it intends to defend, re-found and strengthen, by embracing without prejudice the modernity that the Internet symbolizes"..

But then again: "The question of information, before becoming a professional issue or an economic affair, is at the heart of democratic vitality itself".
Indeed, it is by using this new internet vector that we have chosen to take our responsibilities of words, themes and subjects, in the pure and noble respect of our readers: information with quality contents, free, independent,... Thanks to Youphil to reframe this right to rich information for all citizens.

"The media must reflect on their social responsibility as a company, but also in their content.

"The public's right to quality, complete, free, independent and pluralistic information, as stated in the Declaration of Human Rights and the French Constitution, guides journalists in the exercise of their mission. This responsibility towards the citizen takes precedence over any other. » This is the preamble to the Charter of Professional Ethics of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), the industry's main union in France.

But there's a problem with this laudable statement of intent. A pebble in the signature: liability. Any legal or natural person, any public or private organization, nowadays likes to declare itself responsible. The word itches. It is so overused that it is like an old overcoat: it is easy to put on and it does not protect against anything.

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What is the journalist responsible for? 

But responsibility, like "acting responsibly", is not a catch-all. A word always means something, you just have to know what. "Liability arises outside the responsible subject. It comes upon him, because he finds himself engaged in circumstances that give rise to it. » We owe these words to Paul Fauconnet who, in 1928, wrote a thesis on the concept.

Whoever declares himself "responsible" arrogates too much power to himself: one does not choose to be responsible, one becomes responsible. Paul Ricoeur completes the definition by specifying where the liability arises: "In its strong sense, which is also its true sense, the notion of responsibility is developed by (...) Hans Jonas. The author shows that the real responsibility is not to be found in the law.It is different from the one we would exercise on someone or something fragile, which would be entrusted to us. »

The result is a clear, elegant definition: I am responsible to a third party for what it has entrusted to me. What are journalists responsible for? The right of their public to be well informed. This responsibility does not guide their mission, it is the mission.

Since 1935 and the creation of the professional journalist statusany registered journalist is entrusted with the public's right to information. At the same time, news subjects entrust part of their image to the journalist, sometimes without having asked for it. Forgetting this second aspect of responsibility is as devastating as forgetting the right to information. 

Shift from information to opinion, due to lack of hindsight

Read more 

 

 "Information is the weapon of equality. Information is the weapon of equality, the weapon of access for all to knowledge about our immediate present and to the knowledge of the past of which it is woven. That of collective discussion and free reflection on all facts of public interest. "Edwy Plenel (1)

 

(1) Book " Le droit de savoir " by Edwy Plenel - Editions Don Quichotte - February 2013
- Book " La vérité guidait leurs pas " by Pierre Mendès-France - 1976 - Editions Gallimard
- Complete works of Albert London - 1992 - Editions Arléa
- Book " A Common Faith " by John Dewey - 2011 - Edition La Découverte
- Book " Le droit et la loi " by Victor Hugo - 2002 - Editions 10/18
- Book " La technique ou l'enjeu du siècle " by Jacques Ellul - 2008 - Edition Economica
- Book " La Méthode, Ethique " by Edgar Morin - 2004 - Edition of Le Seuil

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