Professional journalists are often challenged with conflicts in balancing standards and principles of journalism ethics. Journalism calls for the reporting of events that are deemed to impact on a certain society positively or negatively, with the aims of raising awareness, influencing the correction of a wrong and implementing a necessity. This is affected by the objective manner by which the journalists reports events. On the other hand, subjective internal and external forces shape the manner by which a complete story is made. Erroneous reporting which is also open to scrutiny can also be viewed as factual or fiction.
In light of business journalism, proper reporting and ethics would always be an issue – the image of the organization, local and national regulating bodies, the image of the reporting bodies, and the well-being of clients and consumers, and the society as a whole is at stake. Globalization has raised the need to meet sustainability, environmental awareness in organizations, and this has pushed for groups affiliated with animal welfare which have also become more aggressive in bringing sustainability to business processes, giving consideration to animal welfare.
Animal welfare groups have raised concern initially through preservation and prevention of animal species or extinction. This has a catalyst for other issues on animal welfare. Business journalism has brought the inhumane use and treatment of animals for various human consumptions into perspective.
The manner by which feature business journalism regarding animal rights and the use of animals in industries can present a stark difference in the manner of reporting, the impact and influence of the report between developed and still developing countries. To present examples, issues would be presented and juxtaposed between these two opposite economies.
Animals have been an accepted source of nutrients, protein and minerals in the form of food. In developed countries, acceptable meat includes fowl, fauna, white meat, pork, beef, and fish. Animals are not slaughtered in the streets and only the meat can be seen in the marketplace. The sight of decapitated animals, or animal heads and innards cause issues regarding good abattoir practices, health and hygiene. Economies that are more developed as presented by the media have shown that there is the luxury of only purchasing the right kind of meat for the preferred diet.
In contrast, countries that are still developing or are less developed include meat from dogs, snakes, rats, termites, and innards, and fetus in their diet, maintaining that these are healthy, medically-relevant sustaining food. Preparation is performed questionably and sources of animal growing industries are always put into question.
Business journalism has greatly showed the differences between these two kinds of economies, where the rich countries are eating and even becoming obese due to the well-grown and genetically modified animal food; whereas the least developed countries settle and learn to live on what is available.
Figure 1. Chicken Feet, Pork and Chicken Liver, Innards and Intestines, and the Duck Egg are Delicacies in China, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia
Figure 2 The Hamburger in the United States and Europe as a Common Staple Food
The needs for animal testing facilities in medical research are an important factor in determining the effectiveness and accuracy of drugs to human beings. Drug testing in animals start from rodents and extend to larger forms of animals such as horses and apes. Advances in medical sciences have seen the development of vaccines, antibiotics, transplants, development of medical devices such as inhalers, and implants (RDS, 2006). On the other hand, animal rights groups have influenced the drive for stopping the use of animals in non-medical related product testing such as with the use of cosmetics, devices and other accessories and gadgets.
In light with this, most western cosmetic associations have shunned the use of animals for testing, such as The Body Shop (2010), L’Oreal, Victoria’s Secret and others (Renee, 2010). The influences of business journalism to stop inhumane treatment of animals have affected these organizations’ decision to stay away from these practices, as well as involve society in reporting such incidences. This is especially true for countries such as France, Belgium and Great Britain, however, other countries such as China, Portugal, Greece, and Spain (Pifer, Shimizu, & Pifer, 1994).
This then raises the concern for journal business ethics in evaluating the role of animals in business organizations. Should exposing the use of animals for researches in cosmetics and devices be stopped or continued?
Figure 3. The Body Shop Against Animal Testing
Business journalism has raised the awareness of having consumers, particularly of users of commercial products such as make-ups, powders, perfumes and lotions have come to realize that prior to having the products sold in the markets, animals are used to test their products on – the idea has raised concern for most animal lovers. At the same time support from groups accepting the thought that animals should be the first users of chemicals before humans indeed. Nevertheless, the cry for preventing animal cruelty has pushed several cosmetics organizations to remove animal testing in their portfolio, from main offices and even across their value chains. This has been done to strengthen the image of the company amongst customers, to comply with notorious animal rights groups and to address the concerns of clients. A list of companies that test and do not test on animals is provided below.
Judaism has presented views in treating animals and contradicting the use of fur and leather in human clothing and presenting the restrictions, limitations and responsibilities allocated to other non-human counterparts (Rich, 2011). PETA or People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is one highly active organization against the use of fur, leather, and even meat for human consumption. It pushes for individuals and even entire societies to become vegans instead of omnivores. Videos, websites and advertisements are released to inform the public on how organizations and corporations use animal parts for revenue that humane animal treatment should lead to the evaluation of animals as an entirety than parts (Marji, 2010). The aggressive manner by which PETA advocates its campaigns has presented issues of animal slaughters in Japan, China, Germany and others. However, the organization has only affected more-developed countries where production and procurement of animal parts undergo strict policies and laws guidance. Compared to the least developed and developing countries, where the individual aims and collective aims of the country are to raise revenue, animal use in clothing is still encouraged and profited from. Business journalists in these two opposing parties are entirely different in goals. Journalists of animal rights activists aim to stop inhumane animal practices and the other end covers up these practices in order to generate income for the needy and promote the generation of such.
The aggressive movement of PETA has resulted in the diminishing numbers of the use of fur in the fashion industry; however, fur production and exportation in China continues, meaning that somewhere across the globe, large organizations are fueling the demand for the need of fur.
Figure 4. One of PETA's Signs for Animal Abuse: Body Parts are Sold
There are several international laws that are accepted to protect the rights of animals; the awareness of which are raised through ethical practices in business journalism. Some of these laws are listed herein (Earth Trust, 2011).
This law has been enacted by the government of Japan where a list of protected animals and at the same time food which is limited to animals only are included in it. As an economic Giant of Asia, this heralding act of protecting animals has raised the image of Japan within Asia as an example and even to the world.
This law states that fowls and other domesticated birds should not be enclosed in cages; and aims for the removal of battery cages by 2012. Removing cat’s claws are also prohibited in most areas of Europe.
Animal treatment, management and care are well-defined in Swiss Laws where cage size, living conditions, food and other animal care issues are tackled and strictly implemented.
This growing superpower is experiencing a crisis in developing and implementing animal protection policies. China’s image of being one of the worst countries for animals as expressed by international business journalists has to be overcome soon. Enforces for a long period of time were allowed to shoot unleashed dogs in the streets; animals were grown for their fur and skinned alive; rodents and other questionably edible animals were eaten. These changes would incur a substantial change in tradition for since the culture of China largely makes use of animals and animal parts in medicine, food, shelter and clothing.
Animal welfare is being promoted by the local governments of these countries. However, the implementation of these laws are blurred since food laws and animal treatment in these areas are shady and still largely include the consumption of non-food animals such as dogs, cats, deer and snakes.
Business journalism promotes the well-being of societies by reporting the facts and aims at influencing positive changes. Reporting about the use of animals and animal parts has led to animal protection laws and the need for organizations to become more sustainable and animal-cruelty free. Organizations that join the causes of animal protection are viewed by business journalists as responsible and ecologically-aware companies. On the other hand, business journalists that see the reporting of such cruelty as a threat to the current society’s economy would rather report a story on another topic and ignore or not explore the topic.
Animals are generally accepted as food for most people. The limitations and instructions of growing, cutting and eating animal meat have been presented in the Leviticus chapters of the Holy Bible, the Quran, and even in religious scripts of other religious denominations. On the other hand, certain cultures do not have such guidelines and are not as well-sustained to maintain the instructions presented by religion or national policy. What can be done by business journalists in this case is to expose the inhumane manner by which food is grown and hope that a ripple effect for better food management will take place.
As mentioned earlier, business journalism ethics, in light of the use of animals and in society as a whole, should aim to promote a positive kind of change for society to correct wrongs, initiate current good practices and plan and implement sustainable policies. Although animals do not have a voice, it is best to provide them a manner of communication through journalism.