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The perils in defending principles and values that shaped the history of humanity

Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) is a social psychological theory that lays the foundation for a new view in journalism. The idea has been influential in the study of moral psychology, political psychology, and cross-cultural psychology. In journalism, Moral Foundations Theory became a tool to be used by journalists to set an unbiased structure of questioning in their investigative works, in tune with the cultural frame of the interviewee and the society they function.  

Western civilization-based judgments on the right-wing dichotomy.

Pared values of the opposite end of the spectrum have caused numerous debates, misunderstandings, reprisals, and even death. A few examples of the values and principles that underlie moral judgment bring light to the matter. Among basic moral foundations or discounts that could easily cause havoc, we can include care/harm, authority/subversion, and liberty/oppression. These ethical values are thought to be rooted in evolutionary and cultural processes and are believed to be present to varying degrees in different individuals and societies.

Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), coined by Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt stated: “MFT is an intuitionist theory – it tries to explain the rapid, automatic reactions people have to violations of what they take to be a shared moral order.”  

In journalism, detecting the variety of rapid and automatic reactions is needed to be used to confirm a message or to be used as tools to flash out truths. Consequently, moral and ethical values are revealed only to discover the various definitions in different countries and communities.

Are journalists called to defend values?

A few decades ago, journalists contributed significantly to shaping moral values in society. Although social media and applied social science studies bear weight in shaping understandings regarding moral and ethical values, journalists still have a significant role. Journalists are not activists; they are not crusaders for any cause, but they are called to observe, seek clarification, analyze, and report without bias. They can also highlight instances in which people have acted hypocritically or failed to live up to their professed moral standards. By providing accurate and unbiased information, journalists can help to ensure that society or individuals are held accountable for their actions and decisions. Journalists can help to promote transparency and ethical behaviour. 

            The sociological theory puts boundaries against biased reports

Moral Foundations Theory is offered as a tool for journalists. When the grid of MFT is applied, one can discover preferences and particular lines of thinking. Recognizing stereotypes, the journalist may improve their line of questioning that sets the tone, the vocabulary, and the intent itself of a journalist.

The mechanism is not new; it has existed in an empirical form since the beginning of journalism. Journalists function as a Geiger instrument for societies. Their empathy and their experience in collecting feedback from civil society and political leaders on any topic connected to the everyday needs and functions of society developed skills and abilities that are encouraged now by MFT to be embraced.

The benefit I see in using MFT instead of educated skills and abilities is the ease with which it can be applied. Moral Foundations Theory proposes six moral foundations that drive our moral beliefs and judgments. They are care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression. Recognizing these moral foundations, a journalist can adapt fast and change the questions in such a way that they are better aligned with the beliefs of the interviewee and with the ideas in society.

Moderation in using new tactics is still the golden rule in journalism

As always, they establish an excellent measure of using MFT as an instrument that will make a difference. Sometimes, journalists must step out of the boundaries created in society. In regulated and democratic communities, values change slowly, but they do change. In such a context, the old role of journalists of being the watchdogs of society is more in fashion than ever.

Edited By: Kyenila Taylor


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