By MARK PEARSON Follow @Journlaw
We are excited that our book Mindful Journalism and News Ethics in the Digital Era: A Buddhist Approach (Shelton Gunaratne, Mark Pearson and Sugath Senarath eds; Routledge, NY) will be available from February 24.
The term ‘mindful journalism’ is a concept I introduced more than a year ago in the inaugural UNESCO World Press Freedom address at AUT University Auckland, drawing upon the earlier substantive work by my esteemed colleague (and lead editor of our book), Emeritus Professor Shelton Gunaratne, who has been working for decades on the intersection between Buddhism and journalism.
I developed my application of this in a paper to the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference in Dublin in July 2014, which was revised for publication as an article in Ethical Space published in December 2014.
It is being published as part of the Routledge New York Research in Journalism series. My key point was that one does not have to be a Buddhist to incorporate the key principles of mindful journalism into one’s work. In fact, most of these very moral principles are evident in the teachings of all the world’s great religions. However, for those who lack a moral framework for their ethical decision-making, a secular application of these non-theistic principles can offer a moral compass. They offer a series of normative or aspirational goals we can strive for, but rarely reach. They also provide a schema for the analysis of ethical decision-making by journalists.
To give you a taste of mindful journalism, I offer this short extract from my chapter on ‘The Journalist and Mental Cultivation’ in Mindful Journalism where I explore the possibilities of Buddhism’s ‘Right Mindfulness’ (meditation) for journalism:
A journalist could find value in several elements of this process – from the pausing to think about the duration of a single breath for calming purposes, followed by a self-assessment of thoughts, perspectives and feelings about the story or matter at hand, including breaths to acknowledge the changing nature of things, the separation of the journalist’s ego from the story, and breaths devoted to the implications of the story for those it might impact upon, from the individual who might suffer through their actions being exposed through to others who might benefit by learning from that person’s experience. Thinking about those thoughts might bring clarity to decisions related to the story – suitable priorities, whom to interview, what to check, questions to be asked, and how the facts might best be presented. Recording those thoughts – in a note or audio form – might offer a retrospective justification for the journalist’s actions if they are later called to account. Such metacognition can even become evidence in some court proceedings resulting from a story to demonstrate a journalist has acted in good faith in making “reasonable inquiries,” even if the publisher cannot prove the truth of the reputation-damaging material, as is the case with criteria for the qualified privilege defence in some jurisdictions.
Interested? You can read further extracts from the book using the “Look Inside” interface at Amazon. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.
© Mark Pearson 2015