Aidan is a journalist and specialist in media policy. He is the former General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists which he led for 24 years until March 2011. He formerly worked for The Guardian in London. He is an active campaigner for the rights of journalists worldwide and is the founder of global networks of media organisations and press freedom groups dealing with free expression and safety in news reporting. He is the author of many texts on journalism and rights including recently: The Ethical Journalism Initiative (2008) and Ethical Journalism and Human Rights (2011) for the Council of Europe.
The Broadest Definition of “Ethics”
World News Summit 2011 held a six-person panel to discuss current state of journalism ethics.
“Here, we’re not going to be talking about technology or innovation,” said Aidan White, a Global Editors Network consultant, who served as moderator for the conversation. “We must ask, ‘how do we reinvigorate, restore and maintain commitment to standards and values?’”
White insisted that journalism must necessarily adhere to some sort of values.
“Journalism, by its very name, is a form of expression conformed to a set of values,” he said. “A blogger can say what they want, how they want and when they want…(whereas) journalism is produced in a completely different framework — a framework of ethics.”
He defined ethics in its broadest sense, dwindling it down to five main assertions. According to White, journalists much always:
1. Tell the truth.
2. Be independent and impartial.
3. Do no harm.
4. Be accountable.
5. Support fellow journalists.