What is the value of news values?

Tony Harcup, author of the new book “What’s The Point Of News?” discusses the ever more pressing need for a shift towards ethical journalism

Chief among the values that ought to guide news reporting is that it should serve the public good by providing people with societally important and useful information, emphasising the social utility of news for an audience comprising not just isolated individuals but (potentially) active citizens. Amid the horror stories and the quirky tales, alongside the sensational and the entertaining, there is an urgent need for what might be thought of as socially enabling and democratically empowering information that strengthens active citizenship by promoting understanding and imaginative empathy.

In these highly politicised times, it’s difficult to overstate the influence journalism has on our perception of events around the world. There has long been the temptation for journalists to skew their reporting towards sensationalism and outrage, but it feels like now more than ever we need to step back from the brink.