The Ethical Obligations of News Consumers


Communication and Journalism



Document Type

Book Chapter


journalistic ethics, citizen obligations, media literacy, democracy


Many news audiences today are turning to sources that simply reinforce their own points-of-view or tuning out altogether. While journalism is certainly culpable for many of the ethical lapses we find in today's news media landscape, audiences are not entirely blameless. Democracy depends not on passive consumption of information, but rather on the active participation of citizens in the discourses that shape our public lives. In other words, democracy depends on us all to opt in to the conversations of our culture - conversations facilitated by mass media. Citizens, therefore, have obligations to journalism, just as journalism has obligations to citizens. To meet these obligations, citizens must develop skills in media literacy that foster responsible media consumption and the ability to both sympathize with the press and fairly critique it. While we cannot be compelled to opt in to the news process, the stakes are dire if we choose not to.

Published in

Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach

Citation/Other Information

Wyatt, W. (2010). The ethical obligations of news consumers. In Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach (pp. 283-296). https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195370805.003.0019