Media ethics in the Pacific: Ethical challenges in the Marshall Islands

  • Ann Auman University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Keywords: case study, cross-cultural journalism, culture, ethics codes, Indigenous, journalism ethics, journalism methodologies, Marshall Islands, Pacific Media Institute, talanoa journalism


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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Author Biography

Ann Auman, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

Ann Auman, PhD, teaches media ethics, news literacy and multimedia journalism. Her research is in cross-cultural and global media ethics. She is administrator of the Carol Burnett Fund for Responsible Journalism at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and secretary of the East-West Center Association. She has published in Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, Handbook of Global Media Ethics, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Newspaper Research Journal and others. She grew up in Hong Kong, and has been a journalist in Canada. She has a master’s degree in Asian Studies, MBA, and PhD in Political Science. She has been a professor for 32 years.


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How to Cite
Auman, A. (2023). Media ethics in the Pacific: Ethical challenges in the Marshall Islands. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 29(1 & 2), 36-53.