Monday, September 12, 2016

Journalist: Can't Live With Them Can't Live Without Them

Natalie Chatterton

Every day, we make decisions that will affect our daily lives... what we are going to wear, what we want to eat, and so many other decisions. Along with decisions making comes dilemmas. According to the reading titled Dilemmas and Moral Questions: The Heart of Ethical Decision Making by James E. Lukaszewski, dilemmas are “situations where we must choose between two equally repugnant choices.” This quote is very valuable when it comes to journalism and ethical decision making because it is very important to understand the dilemma you are in and the consequences that follow with the decision you chose to make.
When something bad happens to an individual, they are put into a dilemma with decisions to make. Decisions have consequences attached to them; otherwise they would not be referenced as a dilemma in the first place. It is important for individuals and their organizations to understand the pros and cons of each decision and decide which decision will benefit the brand in a more positive way.

In the reading, Lukaszewski discusses a list of questions journalists should review to promote appropriate ethical behavior. Among this list where questions like: What did they know? When did they know it? Are our actions open, honest and truthful? With this in mind, Lukaszewski states “failure to ask questions can be considered ethical failure by omission.”

Within the past few years, we can look at several ethical lapses that occurred to journalists and caused uproar and debate in the journalism industry.
News organizations' policies ask their journalist to keep a somewhat biased opinion when covering political parties, to focus on getting the news and facts out to the public about a particular candidate or political movement. According to Christine Tatum who wrote the article The bad and the ugly: An examination of ethical lapses in the past year “140 journalists contributed to political parties, movements or candidates, and Ten Florida journalists accepted payment from the federal government in exchange for their contributions to television and radio stations that work to undermine Cuban President Fidel Castro’s regime." This is an ethical dilemma because the journalist did not think they did anything wrong when they completely disregarded their news organization's policy and went against the SPJ’s ethics code.

Another example of an ethical dilemma in the Journalism industry was when anchor woman Mirthala Salinas reported on Los Angles mayor Antonino Villaraigosa separating from his wife after twenty years of marriage. Salinas reported that “the rumors where true,” and introduced the story as a “political scandal.”  According to the LA Times article titled Mayor reveals romantic link with TV newscaster by Duke Helfand and Steve Hymon, “What Salinas, 35, did not say in the newscast was that she was the other woman. She and Villaraigosa, 54, had been in a relationship, even though she had previously been the political reporter assigned to cover local politics and the mayor.” Salinas refused to report the truth of this issue to the public in order to save her public image; she disregarded any ethical reasoning and was romantically involved in a candidate she covered.
These examples of ethical issues in journalism show that their decisions were not for the greater good of journalism, and it shows the consequences that happen when you do not question moral reasoning and ethical issues in journalism.

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