Navigating conflicts of interest: Ethical policies of 12 exemplary Asian media organisations

Cherian GEORGE*, Yuan Zeng, Suruchi Mazumdar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While research into non-Western media systems and professional norms are growth areas in journalism studies, little is known about the policies of news organisations beyond a few celebrated global brands. This exploratory study is situated in that gap. It examines 12 reputable media organisations in seven territories – China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Taiwan. Through interviews with top-level editors and executives, the study analyses their stated policies with regard to commercial conflicts of interest. In particular, how they deal with pressures from owners and advertisers who want favourable news coverage and how they respond to the demand for commercial deals that blur the boundaries between editorial and advertising. The study responds to recent calls in media ethics scholarship for critical-empiricist research on the ‘possible’ world, focusing on actually existing exemplars rather than abstract ideals. The 12 organisations have adopted a range of responses to these pressures. In general, most have policies aimed at preserving their editorial integrity even as they become more accommodating to the market. Our interviewees point to the importance of organisational culture, more than written policies, in maintaining professionalism: most of the organisations were founded by journalist-publishers whose ethos continues to exert a strong influence. While these organisations have lessons for others, it may be unrealistic to expect their culture of journalistic independence to diffuse beyond a small set of principled media outlets.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Asia
  • conflict of interest
  • journalism
  • journalistic independence
  • media ethics

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