ETHICS – WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Our entire lives, we have been taught about what is wrong and what is right, by our parents, our family, our religion, our government, almost every aspect of our lives teach us these values. Different ethical ideas form our society, and to many it’s a simple concept to abide by. Ethics are vitally important in regards to media research. Google defines ethics to be ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.’ These principles are established amongst society, and frameworks are built for ethical research practices. There is a code of ethics to be followed by almost everyone with an audience – freelance journalists, bloggers, or someone in a media company.

There are many reasons why it is important to adhere to ethical norms in research. Ethics promote the aims of research, such as knowledge and truth. Ethical standards therefore promote the values that are essential to work collaboratively. Ethical norms assist and ensure that researchers are held accountable to the public for their research, and help build public support for research. And lastly, norms of research promote a variety of other important moral and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights and compliance with the law. Ethical failures in media research have the ability to significantly harm the public or the subject. For example, if a researcher were to fabricate their data in a medical trial, may be accountable for the harming of a patient. 

All this is understandable, but the question still stands, What is right? What is Proper? This is subjective, different people have different ideas and standards about what is right and wrong – there’s no universal answer (McCutcheon, M., BCM210 Lecture slides, 2015). Ethical standards vary between political systems and legal systems, but the most important thing is that being ethical is morally appropriate.


  • McCutcheon, M. 2015, ‘Why are ethics important?’, Lecture slides, Research Practices in Media and Communication, BCM210, University of Wollongong, viewed 19th March 2015

Love, Lauren

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