Ethics and eloquence in journalism: An approach to press accountability

Theodore L. Glasser*, James S. Ettema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Journalists’ common sense, their everyday moral intuitions, offers a practical but flawed way of knowing right from wrong. But rather than discounting or dismissing this “naïve everyday ethical knowledge,” which would rob journalism of its normative substance, we propose to rehabilitate it through a process of public justification. Grounded in aspects of Jürgen Habermas's theory of communicative ethics, we offer a model of press accountability that understands ethics as a process rather than an outcome. Our being-ethical-means-being-accountable theme emphasizes the role of eloquence, understood as the competence to argue in ways that advance common or shared interests, in an open and accessible discursive test of the validity of journalism's moral norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-534
Number of pages23
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Accountability
  • Common sense
  • Discourse ethics
  • Journalism ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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