Week #10 – Ethics – Lauren Marie Paterson

As media creators in both the journalism and communication fields, ethics will always be an integral part of our work, especially if we are putting it out into the public eye. Through this course and the study of the changing digital landscape I had a few thoughts on the subject.

Personal/Professional Ethics:  While many of us have probably taken an ethics class and we will be studying the subject more in detail during our graduate studies here, Lauren Kessler reminded us that we are all at some point going to have to decide where we draw our own ethical lines. Each of us have different interests, and although I’m sure we’re all wonderful human beings, perhaps our ethical boundaries will be tested in our future endeavors to help us shape a good moral backing for uncovering and communicating media work.

Company/Corporate Ethics: A large number of America’s biggest international companies are always popping up in the media for their unethical behavior, whether they’re spilling oil into the ocean or paying their workers so little that they insist their workers donate to their co-workers so they can have a Thanksgiving dinner. (Way to go, Walmart…) Why are these huge companies allotted the public relations power to try and constantly cover up their unethical behavior? Sure, journalists constantly uncover scandals, but it seems as though even if the company in question goes to court, they settle out in time for a new one. Does it seem to anyone else that companies and corporations are held to a different ethical standard than human beings? As communicators in the media world, can we do anything to help?

The Future of Ethics in Communication: Journalism has faced intense criticism over the past decade or two, and rightfully so. The 24-hour news model bent on generating drama at all costs to sell advertising is really making hard-working, ethically committed journalists look bad when they’re lumped in all together as “journalists.” If journalism is considered the 4th branch of government, allowed to check and balance the activities and intentions of those in power, should it be structured more democratically? How will good stories and important information really reach people if your boss cares more about selling ads than curating important content for the public?  Can the “profit at all costs” model of our nation’s capitalist system provide the kind of media people really need?

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1 comment to Week #10 – Ethics – Lauren Marie Paterson

  • oaldakhe@uoregon.edu

    Very interesting Lauren. Yes it’s really hard to be a good and ethical journalist nowadays, it seems that only journalists who tell ridicules stories that get more ratings are the ones who stay around and are widely seen by the public. I think multimedia journalism is the answer to get engaged more with people, but we all need to figure out how we can do that while telling a newsworthy piece at the same time, which has been presented previously in a very boring way.

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