Mark Pearson

Towards 'mindful journalism': Applying Buddhism's Eightfold Path as an ethical framework for modern journalism

Religious codes of morality have informed professional ethical principles, particularly with regard to fairness, truth and honesty. Buddhism has a growing relevance in Western societies, prompted by migration and a developing interest in Eastern religions and philosophies. This paper considers Buddhism's 'Noble Eightfold Path' and explores its applicability to Fourth Estate journalism in the modern era. It takes each of its elements - understanding free of superstition, kindly and truthful speech, right conduct, doing no harm, perseverance, mindfulness and contemplation - and uses modern examples to illustrate their potential usefulness to the journalist seeking to practise responsible truth-seeking and truth-telling. It assesses whether such an approach would allow the reporting of such topics as celebrity gossip and official corruption and examines the ethics of subterfuge, deception and treatment of vulnerable sources in this light.

Keywords: journalism, ethics, Buddhism, mindful journalism, philosophy, Eightfold Path


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Note on the contributor

Mark Pearson is Professor of Journalism and Social Media in the School of Humanities at Griffith University, Australia, and a member of its Socio-Legal Research Centre and the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research. He is co-author with Mark Polden of the fifth edition of The journalist's guide to media law (Allen & Unwin 2014) and author of Blogging and tweeting without getting sued (Allen & Unwin 2012). He is Australian correspondent for Reporters Without Borders, tweets from @journlaw and blogs from He acknowledges funding from the Australian Research Council for the collaborative ARC Linkage Project LP0989758 which contributed to this study and to the Griffith University Arts, Education and Law Group for funding to present an earlier version to the Media, Religion and Culture division of the International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference, Dublin City University in 2013. He thanks Professor Emeritus Shelton Gunaratne for his insightful suggestions.