The career field that I have chosen is public relations which also has a focus in journalism. Since journalism is often known as the 4th government branch because it watches over the actions of the other branches there are many controversial issues involved which required applied ethics to work through. Business ethics can be seen very strongly in public relations and journalism because there are often conflicts between advertisers which is here the largest amount of revenue comes from and editorial.
For example, an article may be getting ready to run about how someone was killed by a person who illegally obtained a gun. The article may spark some gun control arguments and opinions. In the same issue of the paper there might be a firearm store placing a large display advertisement for a sale they are having. There is a dilemma there that will need applied business ethics to decide what to do. Do they run both anyways, or stick with the advertiser and trim down the details of the article so there is not as much focus on gun control?
There are legal rights issues that required applied ethics reasoning also associated with public relations and journalism. There are certain details and name and things that can only be printed based on specific things such as a person being certain age and circumstances. Some areas consider it illegal to print in the obituaries that someone committed suicide. Sometimes though if it is a public matter that many people witnessed it is had to avoid printing that a suicide occurred without people know there is information being with held.
In addition to this there is also always the possibility of sources being incorrect and the information you print being libelous to someone. Finally there is computer and information ethics in applied ethics. This category can be seen in public relations and journalism in much the same way as legal issues with being slanderous or libelous to someone or a company. Depending on what sources one use there may be false information coming from the computer and information. A professional in public relations of journalism has to take the responsibility to fact check and check the credentials of the sources they are using.
The responsibility to check facts does not lay with the source, but with the journalist. If they received incorrect information that could have been spotted if fact checking was done they are negligent and can face very serious consequences. Fact checking cannot only hurt the legally, but also ethically. The people, businesses and other things that are written about are affected deeply. Sometimes there has to be a choice made as to whether a story is worthy of printing if it is going to harm someone or someone’s family members.
Most of the time the ethical choices that have to be made in public relations and journalism stem from not which side of a topic to be on, but what to put out to the public on topics. For example, even if a reporter feels that abortion is completely wrong they cannot express this opinion. They have to write for both sides just giving the facts to what things each side says. They could be thinking abut writing to persuade people on why abortion is wrong, but the ethical decision is to step back and understand where both sides of the argument are coming from.
Courtney from Study Moose
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