Who would I owe loyalty if I were a journalist? Journalist loyalty is not at all cut and dried, as I would have supposed a week or two ago. Evidence of this is seen in the newspapers daily – everything from the editorial banter about Muslim cartoons to Persian Peacock adds run in the Statesman.
Journalist loyalties that I feel are important listed roughly in order of significance:
The publisher – after all, that is who pays you. This is assuming that the publisher is being open-minded, honest, and fair.
The readers/viewers – there must be a loyalty to deliver the truth to them.
Public safety – much consideration and sometimes restraint must be used to insure that you are doing the best for the good of the public.
National Security – an interesting issue these days.
Innocent people – journalistic power can cause undue harm to people if caution is not exercised.
As for PR practitioners, I believe that the main loyalty must be to the employer. This can cause conflicts if the employer is doing something that is against your moral or ethical values, take cigarette advertising for example – something that many people would object to. In this case, if you cannot agree with what you are trying to sell, both you and your employer would be better off if you would get employment elsewhere.
PR people should also have loyalty to public safety – for example creating advertising that could encourage dangerous copycat behavior.
I have no plans to work in journalism or public relations, but some of these loyalties still apply to my as an engineer. After our class exercise last week, I found that I feel an intense loyalty to my employer. My customers within and without the company are also important.