Week 10: Brett Harmon

The topic of ethics is always a tricky one because there is always some kind of opposing forces that are exerting their will on what seems to be “right” There is of course the overall ethics of Journalism that we should in some way adhere to,  but then there are also your personal ethics which will have an influence on your behaviors, as well as the wills and opinions of those you are working for as well.  These are just some examples of what we as journalists have to deal with.

I personally have always thought the only true thing that a journalist can control is their own ethics; it is what makes them who they are.  Really no two journalists are going to be the same no matter how close their ethics may come.

But this new era of digital journalism is making journalists make new and harder decisions.  Where at one point the control of the information was strictly in their hands now with nearly anyone with access to a computer can put information out there regardless of their own personally ethics.  Is it now getting to the point where a journalists ethics have to be thrown out the window for the sake of a story?  If you were to find something out but you don’t feel comfortable revealing it, but then someone else does and that end up being the biggest piece of news to the story, you could possibly lose the creditability for not revealing all of the information, as well as your job.

Now there is almost no protecting friends or the sacredness of privacy.  Nearly everything needs to be revealed anymore it seems.  That is why TMZ seems to be more right than wrong most of the time.  They don’t care who they upset or who lives they ruin.  Their ethics are that of revealing the information no matter the cost.  Normal journalists just don’t tick that way it seems.  But with the way that readers and viewers flock to the TMZ’s of the world it doesn’t seem  like the best choice anymore it seems.

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4 comments to Week 10: Brett Harmon

  • kpokrass@uoregon.edu

    Not only does everything need to be revealed, but it seems like people feel the need to reveal everything. What happened to wanting a little privacy? I can understand why TMZ is what it is, but i can’t understand why everyday people feel the need to expose every little aspect of their lives online. Maybe people have a different set of ethics for online vs. everyday life?

  • Amanda

    Brett: you’ve correctly stated that the world is moving more and more towards overrevealing, like our reality has become a reality show gone bad. I think the logic of concluding that it seems we have to continue down that road is a bit flawed, however. In a time where there seems to be a lack of ethical standards, it seems to me that it’s needed more than ever. I don’t mean losing a story for propriety –I mean being just as proactive but doing stories on the nuance and depth. Some of the biggest stories this year were about huge reveals FOR ethical means ((NSA), as opposed to unethical reveals. There is a difference. We need sexy…but sometimes its sexier to see a shoulder than a sex scene…etc.

  • kgaboury@uoregon.edu

    I’ve never really considered TMZ/US Weekly and other celebrity gossip rags to be journalism due to their completely unethical practices. For one, I’ve noticed they never use actual sources in their “stories,” but rather “a source close to J-Lo, Taylor Swift, Miley, etc. etc.” Seems pretty credible.
    Their business model seems to be built on humiliating celebrities with compromising photos and mostly fictional stories so they can sell ad space to Neutrogena. Otherwise, they really have no value to society except giving soccer moms something to gossip about while getting their nails done. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. *end rant*

  • dereky@uoregon.edu

    I agree with what Katherine is saying about how people change when they are online. They share every little detail based on the assumption that we care. I stay off of Facebook for that very reason. I do not care about how many goals your kid scored today or what you just ate. I think that people lack a filter when the sharing is made so easy. In fact, Facebook is really very similar to a real life TMZ, starring your friends, instead of celebrities.

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