Monday, August 31, 2015

The Evolution of Ethics

Samantha Schilder

Today we ask ourselves, "what is the purpose of journalism?" Does it carry the same meaning it had over 300 years ago when you heard press through song and story? Today the story can be heard via hashtag, Instagram,  Twitter, Snap chat, Facebook post etc. The list can go on and on; why?

We are evolving. We are currently living in the generation of the future. What we learn today will be something new tomorrow.

As we evolve things that were once considered rational are now considered to be irrational. In regards to my generation. An ethical dilemma that has had an impact on me was the recent scandal on the Alabama Alpha Phi Recruitment video.

The video received attention from a wide platform, US magazine, ABC news, The Huffington Post and many more; including social media.

Courtesy of US magazine

The chapter was criticized because the sorority was 'objectifying' recruitment and women as well as showing no form of diversity. As a sorority member here at Ohio University, our Formal Recruitment is taking place this coming weekend. The Women's Panhellenic Association strives to make each member coming through recruitment  feel as comfortable as possible. To look at the attention Alpha Phi has received, I question the feedback we could potentially receive as any Greek member across the nation.

As time evolves, our opinions can be easily heard through news outlets out of our hands. With a simple click you can actively become a "journalist."

A journalist is here to inform and provide, but above all things; provide truth.  Many people feel entitled to their own opinion which is important. In regards to the Alpha Phi recruitment video the women of this chapter received backlash mainly from past generations, the generations that didn't grow up with social media or "e-readers."

As a generation Y; I ask myself, "Is the 2015 Alpha Phi recruitment video getting attention because past generations aren't evolving over time?"

Is ethics something that has lost its meaning or has the meaning just grown into something that we "the majority" can relate to. Did this video go viral with over 700,000 clicks in less than 2 days because of the sorority stereotype? We could form hundreds of questions that could have hundreds of different answers. That's what keeps journalism media in business, it leaves you wanting more, you receive information and spread the word.

The norms of journalism are always being redefined but the problem we carry as a whole is we aren't redefining with the change we see.  The traditional platforms of journalism will always remain, although it may not always be black and white, we will continue to spread the word through professional platforms and "professional tweets." As we grow more and more greedier to receive information as quickly as possible, we also grow to accept the information we receive with a little more acceptance. As for ethics goes, remember, the next time you only have 140 characters to voice your opinion, those 140 characters go a long way.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Can Ethical Responsibility Be Organic?

Tracy Brewer

Many believe that common sense is innate.  People either have it or they do not.  Can ethics be placed in the same category?  Or is being ethical something that we are only taught?  Is it more than knowing right from wrong?  And how is today’s ethics different than our parent’s generation?

Courtesy of
In our reading it’s mentioned “every generation creates its own journalism.”  I bet our parents didn’t see these creations coming!  “Blogging,” “tweeting,” “facebooking,” “snapchatting” and the list continues to grow almost every day.  The way we consume the news is fast and furious.  Once upon a time you watched television for the news and those offering it were trusted and reliable.  What happened to that trust?  What causes someone with so much credibility to decide to fabricate or embellish a situation?  Is it the pressure to “go viral?”  Is there so much competition with the noise of other “journalists” that you need to differentiate yourself by stretching what happens to you in certain circumstances?

Courtesy of The Huffington Post - A favorite news source for me.
We assume that Brian Williams had a class similar to this, when he was in college.  We can also assume he knew the consequences he would face with adding a bit more drama to his recollection, right?  Shouldn’t he have been taught this?  Or maybe we feel he was one of those with common sense and he would just know right from wrong. Changing gears from being the go-to source for news and competing with 140 character tweets that run 24/7 can be a bit …threatening. 

Bloggers and Vloggers have changed the landscape of journalism.  No longer do you have to work for a company to have a valid voice.  People have created their own way.  People have defined themselves, marketed their own niche and gained HUGE followers.  Some have been taught.  Others have an organic charm that helps their message attract followers.  Then there is a mixture of the two.  So where do their “ethics” come from?  How do they know how to “act” when everyone is watching them or hanging on their every word?  I found an interesting video about ethics in blogging by an international blogger.

To hear how (almost every) blogger begins by sharing personal accounts as a way to just find some individuality… to growing that voice into an actual company, is amazing.  One way that sustains ethics is through transparency.  Attempting to let the audience know if a post is sponsored is a great way to keep the trust up. 

But what if your blog grew from controversy?  What if everyone or everything you spoke about wanted to sue you for giving your opinion?  As Perez Hilton found out when he began his unique blog, he was known as a Hollywood troublemaker when he started. 

Everyone wanted to press charges of his use of their “photos” as he shared them on his blog.  Little by little, these people realized the old adage “there is no bad publicity” and the attention they grew from his opinions started to give him a valid (as much as it can be in Hollywood) voice.  So, whose ethics changed?  Was it Perez’s ethics?  Was it the celebrities?  How about the readers and followers of his messages?  Was what he did just breaking a new mold and the internet realized that this was a new norm.  This method was a new “gossip mag” format that they just needed to accept?  More and more celebrities are taking the shock out of it and just posting such “scandal” themselves (Hello, Kardashians) to get the attention first. 

So without the filters, the people deciding what we follow, watch or find “newsworthy” how do you define ethics in journalism. Because, how do you define journalism?  We can’t blame the networks when we’re offended anymore because we’re going to see it or hear about it on social media.  If you can’t figure out how to use social media correctly, then how you can blame it when it shows you something unethical.  I hear time and time again people are made at something that comes up on their Facebook wall.  Well if you knew how to manage your wall, follow, list, categorize and operate all of the functions available to you, then maybe those “unethical” images/videos/posts would not appear.  You can’t complain about a FREE social media service and then turn around and gripe about it when you’re not using it correctly!  Take a class, read a tutorial, ask a friend…but don’t rant about how it operates when you’re not operating correctly. 

People have almost limitless choices for journalism today. Traditional mediums are still around (maybe temporarily…it’s yet to be the end of the newspaper) and ethics in all mediums are still very important.  But the way ethics is defined has also changed.  People are more “tolerant” (for lack of a better word) towards what is acceptable because we want to KNOW everything immediately.  We will follow a story and repost it ourselves, without checking facts. We want to be the FIRST one to share it.  Heck, we’ll just go check later to see if it was a “real” story.  So has our requirement for ethics softened?  Are we going to tune into MSNBC and watch Brian Williams for the news or to see how he handles being back on the air? How does our attitude towards journalism define our own ethics as a consumer of media?  Maybe that’s the better question to ask since we are truly in control of our journalistic behavior.