World Around You

Ethics Word

  • Concept comes from Greece
  • Greeks divided philosophical world into three… one is ethics which is study of what is good, both for the individual and for society
  • Rationality is the key word in ethics
  • Ability to explain ethical choices is important for journalists, since they may have to make separate ethical decisions dealing with different sources even with a single story
  • When elements within a moral system conflict, ethical principles can help make tough choices
Ethics is Essential for Journalism Image: GoogleEthics is Essential for Journalism Image: Google

Ethics is Essential for Journalism Image: Google

Making Ethical Decisions

  • Few must make ethical decisions in public
  • Professionals make decisions, but the journalists are the only ones who can make it public
  • Books insists that ethics can’t be taught – its situational and every message is unique and leaves no real way to learn ethics than by daily life
  • Ethics is something you have, not something you do
  • Each day at work, journalists make ethical choices and sometimes, will have an influence beyond one broadcast or newspaper area
  • For example in covering suicide stories, it has been a tough decision for editors whether and how to cover such issues, such decisions influences people far beyond individual media markets
  • Thinking about ethical decisions wouldn’t make it any easier, but with practice
  • Cotemporary professional ethics revolve around:

–          What duties do I have, and to whom do I owe them?

–          What values are reflected by the duties I’ve assumed?

  • Ethics take us out of the world where we say ‘this is how I do it’
  • It is important to distinguish between ethics, which is a rational process founded on certain principles and morals which are generally regarded to belong in the realm of religion

Bok’s Model

  • Introduced in her book Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life.
  • Based on 2 premises:

–          We must have empathy for the people involved in ethical decisions

–          Maintaining social trust is a fundamental goal

  • Any ethical question should be analyzed in 3 steps:

–          Consult own conscience about the ‘rightness’ of an action…how do you feel about the action?

–          Seek expert advice for alternatives to the act creating the ethical problem. Experts can be living or dead… is there another way to achieve the same goal that will not raise ethical issues?

–          Conduct (if possible) a discussion with the parties involved in the dispute

  • Ones faced with a problem, it’s the journalistic responsibility to tell the truth and that means providing readers with all the facts you discover
  • Cautions in following Bok’s model:

–          Important to go through all three steps before making a final choice

–          Ethical dialogue in 3rd step is best when conducted in advance of the event, not in the heat of writing the story

Guidelines for making Ethical Decisions

  • You will need principles to help you determine what to do amid conflicting voices

Aristotle’s Golden Mean

  • Individual acts are not separated from one another

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

  • Asserts that an individual should act on the premise that the choices one makes for oneself could become universal law

Utilitarianism

  • By Englishmen Jeremy Bentham & John Stuart Mill in C19th.
  • Consequences of actions are important in deciding whether they are ethical

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

  • Asserts that an individual should act on the premise that the choices one makes for oneself could become universal law

Utilitarianism

  • By Englishmen Jeremy Bentham & John Stuart Mill in C19th.
  • Consequences of actions are important in deciding whether they are ethical

Pluralistic theory of value

Modern philosopher William David Ross bases that there are often more than one ethical value simultaneously ‘competing’ for preeminence in our ethical decision making

The ‘Science’ of Ethics

  • Ethics at least has much continuity of thought as developments in science
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