Media ethics in the Pacific: Ethical challenges in the Marshall Islands
Media ethics in the Pacific Islands varies considerably among nations in practice, as shown in scholarship. This case study of 16 Marshall Islands journalists aims to provide evidence of ethical decision-making in practice in one Pacific Island nation, and demonstrate the intersection of imported journalism values and local culture. It builds on survey work of Pacific Island journalists’ roles by Singh and Hanusch (2021), the Worlds of Journalism study by Hanitzsch et al. (2019) and works by Robie (2004, 2014 and 2019). Responses from 16 journalists in the Republic of the Marshall Islands who made ethical decisions during a journalism workshop facilitated by the newly established Pacific Media Institute at the College of Marshall Islands in June 2022 were analysed. First, the participants identified ethical conflicts in carrying out their professional duties. Next, they applied standard ethics codes from democracies (absolutism), to local scenarios. Discussion centered on how to address the core value of independence because of dominance of the church and the strongly influential chiefly system in RMI. Personal relationships were also factored in their ethical decision-making because the journalists considered the perspectives of all stakeholders in reporting on Marshallese culture and society. They were keenly aware of the consequences of their reporting on their community. They offered unique, locally derived solutions from different perspectives. They often exhibited an ‘ethics of care', prioritising humanity and sometimes societal harmony.
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