Knowledge is critical in the modern era, mainly as social media plays such a prominent role in information access. Information is any data or facts about an object or a person; it should be precise, timely, and accurate; it should be structured for the purpose; it should have a sense of significance and meaning. It should contribute to a subject’s understanding. Information’s essential elements should still be preserved. The term “misinformation” describes a situation in which information is false, but the individual giving it is unaware of it. On the other hand, disinformation is the deliberate dissemination of incorrect information and making false claims or deceiving people. The film Outfoxed talks about the criticality of accurate information and in particular with the Fox News company. The information, misinformation, and disinformation concepts are key considerations when analyzing the film and the ethical issues around the company’s stand.
The Fox News has had an interesting history as covered in the film, we see different aspects if news reporting from the media house that is in contradiction with the principle of being fair and impartial (“Five Principles Of Journalism – Media Ethics – Ethical Journalism Network”). A case in point is the political leaning of the media house, the film shows how the station failed to strike a fairground by inviting a larger number of Republican guests, and fewer Democrats, which exposes their political leaning (Greenwald). The bias is a case of disinformation because Fox News was in a position to influence things differently but they decided to take sides, which can be argued to play in favor of the government but fail to address the needs of the citizens.
Additionally, the Fox News has persistently ignored the principle of independence and it is evident from their programming. An example of when the news house ignored the ethical principle of independence was about Jeremy M. Glick’s interview, he was expressing his political views, but the interviewer clearly stopped him just because he had a different opinion (Robert). As a media outlet, different opinions, especially from guests to the station, should be tolerated but O’Reilly clearly could not stand anything against his right wing leaning. O’Reilly shows exposed how the Fox News favored the government side and was focused on pushing the government propaganda, which clearly is disinformation to the entire citizenry and against the ethical principles of journalism.
Finally, the Fox News contravened the principle of truth and accuracy. The Fox News did not report the truth entirely when covering Iraq issues; they played as the government propaganda mouthpiece (“SPJ Code of Ethics – Society of Professional Journalists.”). The polls showed that the Fox was misleading the public, for example, when the viewers were asked whether weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, most of the Fox viewers said yes, which was not true. Such instances are a clear departure from ethical journalism, it fails to carry out the primary role entrusted to them, and that is to report information as accurately as possible without altering them.
In conclusion, Outfoxed offers a refreshing perspective at the media at large, it provokes the need to verify information and ensure that they are accurate before sharing them. One important lesson from Fox News is that as a journalist, your primary role is to report information as they are without altering or manipulating them, it is paramount to avoid any instance of disinformation. The government will always want a media channel that will propagate their agenda, but as a journalist or a media house, you should always avoid any bias or conflict of interest.
“Five Principles of Journalism – Media Ethics – Ethical Journalism Network.” Ethical Journalism Network, 2017, http://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/who-we-are/5-principles-of-journalism. Accessed 30 November 2017.
Greenwald, Robert, director. “Outfoxed.” Will Fertman, 2004.
“SPJ Code of Ethics – Society of Professional Journalists.” Spj.Org, 2017, https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp. Accessed 30 November 2017.