One must never forget that in a discussion of media ethics, that News Media is a business engaged in a competitive world to grab as much attention in terms of viewer numbers so that they can either get more advertising or charge more for advertising depending on the ratings.
One can include television programs, soaps and movies as examples of media influencing public opinion and their effectiveness is even greater in poorer countries with limited choice of papers and viewing.
The journalist is therefore under constant pressure to perform and in this regard there have been instances even at the New York Times of fabrication of news. This pressure influences the journalist to word an event to sensationalize them so that it would grab the attention of the viewer or reader. Even photo-journalism can be misused in this regard, as the angle of the picture can tell a very different story from the actual.
There is a need to get a scoop and in so doing a mundane event can look like an important one. There are some topics that are hot topics and more than a fair share of news pertains to that, such as the Iraq war, and Global Warming in the international media and the LTTE civil war incidents in Sri Lanka. Media does not necessarily cover topics of interest to public as often the journalists are out of tune to the readership or viewership, coming from a different background in some cases, and therefore concentrating on topics that matter to them.
People are often not told the whole story, the important story and are influenced to give importance to topics they would otherwise not be interested in as it does not affect their daily lives. One must bear in mind sensational gossipy stories are now commonplace on the grounds that news is also entertainment and therefore the under the sheets activities of the rich and famous also become news. The word is to dig dirt on people to bring them down a peg, a human frailty.
When news or programs are viewed in this light, then a more balanced opinion can be formed, but the problem still remains, that there is a lack of perception and cynicism in what is presented and a lot of believing what is fed in a literal sense of the word.