Friday, March 31, 2006

Who's a journalist these days?

Do Journalists Belong in the Media?

As if dictates from governments, media owners and advertisers weren't enough. Now journalists face a new enemy - those pesky mobile phone carrying people, with their instant reports and commentaries. Where are journalists going to go?


...Blood pours from his scalp as he reaches into his hip pocket, just above his trapped legs. Grabbing his handphone, he clicks on the quick-dial button, giving him a direct connection to a blog server. He clicks on "video" and starts pumping live action online.

"This is Nakasuri Hirito, trapped in the train that has just derailed in Amagasaki, Osaka, Japan. There are bodies all over," he says, as he pans over the inside of the wreckage.

Within seconds, JapanTV gets a sms to check out The picture of the tragedy unfolding shocks them.

"We are receiving news of a train disaster in Amagasaki, Osaka," says the newscaster, as she interrupts the news bulletin. Within minutes, the blurry picture being generated by Nakasuri's 3G video handphone, is broadcasted live. Controls rooms in Atlanta, London and Kuala Lumpur, pick up the newsbreak and buy the broadcast.

Moments later, CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera switch over. The world holds its breath as the unknown Nakasuri Hirito beams the inside story of the battle to stay alive in carriage number 3.

The world has changed...

Former journalist Premesh Chandran says journalists must find ways of working with, instead of competing against, citizens reporting the news through their video/mobile phone cameras and blogs.

MORE here

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lying as psychological warfare

Our own JCOM grad in US Army fatigues, Leon D'Souza, has a frank take on the government's PR ethics here:
Infoganda: The Politics of Make-Believe News.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This should help clear up any confusion about the real Dith Pran and the actor who played his part in The Killing Fields. (Thanks, Unca Google!)


The portrayal of Dith Pran in "The Killing Fields" won an Oscar for fellow Cambodian Haing Ngor, who had also escaped the violence of the Khmer Rouge. But Ngor escaped the genocide in Cambodia only to be shot to death in this country. He was killed on a street in Los Angeles. Now Dith Pran, who's working in New York as a photographer for The New York Times, wants to make sure people never forget the genocide in Cambodia. He has compiled a collection of personal essays by survivors of the killing fields.

-- from (transcript of an MSNBC-TV interview with the real Dith Pran)


Dith Pran (born September 27, 1942 ) is a photojournalist best known as a refugee and Cambodian Holocaust survivor and was the subject of the Academy Award-winning film The Killing Fields. (He was portrayed in the movie by first time actor Haing S. Ngor, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance.)

In 1975, Pran and New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg stayed behind in Cambodia to cover the fall of the capital Phnom Penh to the communist Khmer Rouge forces. Schanberg and other foreign reporters were allowed to leave, but Pran was not permitted to leave the country. When Cambodians were forced to work in forced labor camps, Pran had to endure four years of starvation and torture, before finally escaping to Thailand.

He has been a photojournalist with the New York Times in the United States since 1980. Pran has worked for recognition of the Cambodian Holocaust victims. He received an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1998 and is founder and president of The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project, Inc.



Dr. Haing S. Ngor ( March 22, 1940 –February 25, 1996 ) was a Cambodian American physician and actor who is best known for winning a 1985 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the movie The Killing Fields, in which he portrayed journalist and refugee Dith Pran in 1970s Cambodia, under the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

Ngor himself lived through the Cambodian holocaust, and survived by hiding the fact that he was an obstetrician and gynecologist. As an educated person and a professional, he would have been killed under the harsh regime and purges of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Ngor worked as a doctor in a refugee camp inside Thailand, and left for the United States on August 30, 1980.

In 1988, he wrote Haing Ngor: A Cambodian Odyssey, detailing his life under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In the second edition Survival in the Killing Fields, Roger Warner, Ngor's co-author, adds an epilogue telling the story of Ngor's life after winning the Academy Award.

On February 25, 1996 , Ngor was shot to death outside his apartment in Los Angeles, California, by members of a street gang who demanded the locket around his neck. The locket contained a picture of his late wife; none of the money in his wallet (reportedly a few hundred dollars in cash) was stolen. There was some speculation at the time that the gang members were acting at the behest of Khmer Rouge sympathizers in the U.S., but this was never proven.

Three 19-year-old members of the Oriental Lazy Boyz street gang were arrested and charged with Ngor's murder. They were separately tried and convicted in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. Tak Sun Tan was sentenced to 56 years to life; Indra Lim to 26 years to life; Jason Chan to life without parole. In 2004, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted Tak Sun Tan's habeas corpus petition, finding that prosecutors had manipulated the jury's sympathy by presenting false evidence. This decision was reversed and the conviction was ultimately upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in July 2005 .

Ngor survived incredible dangers during his life in Cambodia only to die violently in his adopted homeland, but he told a New York Times reporter after the release of The Killing Fields, "If I die from now on, OK! This film will go on for a hundred years."


Mixed Signals

Did you know that NPR has an official blog site?

It's called Mixed Signals.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You Risk & Iraq

Initially I'm inclined to say that reporters don't have the right to ask people to risk anything at all, because Kant would say that is using people as a means to an end.

But on second thought, I don't think that I actually feel that way. I mean, we are only asking someone to take risks. They have the full freedom to refuse. It's only a request, not a demand. I would like to think that any reporter would communicate risks to an individual that they were asking a favor of; that a reporter would not knowingly send someone somewhere without informing that person of the risks. That would be wrong and immoral. Additionally, if someone does not want to take a risk, well... everyone has a price and I'm sure that a reporter could find someone with whom they could work out a reasonable deal.

I think that the most important things are that anyone who is asked to take a risk understands the risks and dangers at hand, and that they have the ability to decline the offer. Provided that those conditions are met, I see nothing wrong with asking an individual to take a risk.

As for the media coverage in the Middle East, I'd give them a C-. They do provide quite accurate information on factual events. When, where, who, and what are usually covered pretty well. If a suicide bomber blows something up, I have complete confidence that the media will tell me all about it with haste. However, I'm quite displeased with the not-so factual facets of the Middle East conflict. That is, how to the people over there feel about us? Sure, we know that at least part of the population hates us, but what about everyone else? Do they all hate us, or are some of them thankful for what we're doing? This war is not only a war of militaries, but of the hearts and minds of people. The media does a fair job on the militaristic facts, but what about the hearts and minds? We've won the war militarily for sure, but how about the war for the people and for their support?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Its all relative

Just like almost everything else we've talked about in this class I feel the question 'how much risk should a reporter ask of their source for story' is relative.

What is the story? There is a big difference between a big story and an important story. Is the reporter asking the source to put themselves for some sensational story that's main function is to sell more papers and further the journalist's career. If the story is important, such as misdeeds of the government, it would be more ethical to ask the source to put themselves in harms way.

As far as giving a grade to the U.S.'s coverage of the east I give them a D. I have rarely seen interviews with individuals. Most of the time it is coverage of them screaming and burning Bush in effigy. I feel like I don't get a personal perspective of the situation. I get it all the time in favor of the American agenda but not an average Eastern man or woman talking about how they are deeply troubled about America's actions. I know they are, but all I see are screaming malcontents in the street.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

risky stories.

How much can a journalist ask someone to risk to get a story??
We have all seen stories that risk people's families, reputations, jobs, relationships, and sometimes even their lives. So does being a journalist give us the right to ask people to risk any part of their lives for a story?
As a reporter you have to be able to "cut to the quick" and dig deep. If that means asking for details that could potentally ruin a persons personal or professional life do you scrap the story?... no, even if those questions you might ask could hurt the person in the end, I think you push the 'source' to the limit. Once you get the information you want and if you notice some of the information or details challenge your ethics you then have the choice of what you want to intail in the story.
I know that it will be different in different situations, but journalism is risky. One person's defintion of risky could be totally different to another. If you are too scared to risk someones feelings (for example) how are you ever going to get the story you're looking for?
Coverage of Eastern culture by the western media gets a 'C+' from me. I do believe some have tried really hard to show eastern culture, but they haven't done a very good job. I see the media showing eastern culture as a backward thinking people, with little or nothing to offer, and an enemy to western society in gerneral. I know that a lot of this is due to the war in Iraq and politics, but that doesn't change the fact that we don't see their real culture and people living there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Public Relations and Journalism are symbiotic because they both have a valuable resource that the other needs. PR has news and information that the news media may not have gotten itself, and the news media has the audience that the PR people need. So they are willing to work together.
It is strained because they both have different goals and intentions, and different ideas about what is important news. As the book says, journalists view news as some sort of change in the status quo, while PR thinks that it is good news when things are going good and steady. That is just one of the few differences that causes the relationships to be strained.

Now, what I really want to say.... This strained relationship is a good thing. They keep each other honest. If newspapers always wrote about everything the PR guys gave them, never questioning or getting the other side, the PR people would get away with whatever they want, and they'd probably DO whatever they wanted. And we'd end up with crap in the news. It keeps the PR people looking for real, honest, and newsworthy things to report.

On the other hand, if PR people weren't always presenting things to the news media, there would be a lot of information and news that the public would miss out on...information that they may have needed. It keeps the news media out of one little bubble, and keeps them looking at the variety of stories surrounding them.

So, frustrating as it may be, the tension and conflict is a good thing... As long as they still work together.

Symbiotic: A Good Name for an Organic Food Brand

The relationship between journalism and public relations is both symbiotic and strained because although they rely on each other, they also step on each other's toes. Information that PR practitioners provide is important to journalists, and journalism is a great source of advertising for PR. I think the biggest source of contention between journalists and PR practitioners is probably when journalists are trying to expose or get a shocking "scoop", and PR practitioners are covering up with spin or trying to protect their company's interests. These conflicting interests and resposibilities may lead to contention, but I think that ultimately, they shape both professions and the media in positive ways.

Public Relations and Journalism

Like the book and other bloggers have mentioned PR practitioners and reporters need each other in order to complete a full days work. It's like a guy, you can't live with him, but you can't live without him. Although they need each other, they both have their separate agenda that they need to accomplish and it is easy for them to get into each others way.

Their relationship is symbolic because they can not "function" without each other. Each area as their own duty. PR is to the companies they work for, to make them look good and put them into the spot light when possible. It works in their advantage to use the media as a means of getting their information/story to the public. In terms PR uses the media for their audience. Journalists have a duty to report to the public and report stories that the public has an interest in knowing. The reporters would not be able to collect and cover all of the day's news if they did not have PR practitioners to write press releases, that contribute to the publics knowledge of business topics, entertainment, and travel. By having press releases, it frees the media to cover other stories.

Although it seems like they benefit well from each other, there is still tension that exists between the two. Sometimes the information that PR wants to report is not exactly what journalists want to report. They like the stories that involve dirt and scandals, stories that most of the audience will read about. Because it is the duty of a PR to protect and company and make them look good this causes a conflict.

Journalism & Public Relations

Journalists use Public Relations as if it were a tool, yes; but PR also uses the media as if it were a tool as well.

Journalism wants to inform the public. In some instances, their only source is the PR of a company. For journalists, the PR is a well of information; a resource, a gold vein, meant to be tapped. PR is one of the Media's information gathering tools.

However, PR often uses the Media as its own tool. If a company wants the world to know something, then they have a few different options. One would be advertising, or using some form of mass communication. This is usually a little expensive. Another would be the internet. However, when it comes to what everybody pays attention to, the news, not every company has all the resources. That is, not too many companies have their own television channel, broadcasting equipment, studio, etc.... So what's cheaper than buying or creating your own news corporation? Hiring a few PR guys. PR uses the media in place of having their own stuff. PR uses journalism for their cameras, recorders, newspapers, and audience. Journalism is one of a corporation’s tools for distributing information about them selves. Through a PR guy, all a corporation has to do is put the information out there and hope that journalists pick it up.

That's how Journalism and PR are symbiotic. The relationship, however, is a love-hate one. The information that journalists want and the information that PR representatives provide are not always the same. The media often wants the dirt, the scandals, and the bad news. No (good) PR rep is going to provide all the details about a company’s scandals.

Journalism and PR need each other, but they don't always want the same thing. They each use the other as if it's a tool, but unfortunately (from the view of the operator) the tool always seems to have a little resistance.

Monday, March 20, 2006

We Need Each Other

Public Relations sources are a necessity to journalists who could never compile all the news in a given day on their own. On the other hand, the media provide the Public Relations institution the audience that they require. Each scratch the back of the other.
Patterson and Wilkins indicate that the way these two define what news is, plays a role in why their relationship is strained at times. In PR.....the lack of breaking news is newsworthy. To a journalist, news is something out of the ordinary that breaks away from the status quo. These differences rock the boat. PR tries to push a "good news" story but the media makes the choice to run the "disruptive story". These two institutions will always be at odds.


The main difference between PR and journalism is the stance each one takes on objectivity.

It seems that PR practitioners are not objective. The public expects that. If someone comes out and makes a statement for or about a given company or individual, we expect that information to be swayed. The opposite side of the story isn't given any light because that isn't why the PR person has a job.

Journalism at least claims to be more objective. It may not be and can be in fact more skewed but they at least make it a point to act like it is objective. Both sides of the story are to be presented for a good journalism piece.

I had a professor say once that if people were thinking about going into either journalism or PR, 'go into journalism. It's easier to get into PR after being in journalism that trying to get into journalism after practicing PR.' I thought that made sense because if you are making a point to be objective it would be hard to hire a person that made a career out of the opposite.

It's all about the public...

If you look at public relations and journalism there is one thing in common... the public. Both fields are trying to inform the public in some way or another. It just so happens that PR people are informing from their client's perspective while journalists are supposed to be unbiased or "watchdogs" for the public. In truth each could not successfully complete their jobs without one another.
Journalists have to cover so many different beats that sometimes things are passed up. That is where PR people jump in. They help inform journalists when certain events are happening for their companies or organizations. That way if the press wants to attend they can.
The real conflict between PR and journalists comes in how and what the public learns. Journalists want all of the story while PR may want to spin it to the advantage of their client. It just comes down to where a person's loyalties are. PRp people have a loyalty to their clients while journalists have it to the public. Although PR may want to inform the public, they are not the first priority. The loyalty difference creates tension between the two. This tension will probably never disappear but journalists and PR people will always have to work together. They may not want to but they need to to successfully complete their jobs. This need for one another will keep journalists and PR people cooperating while they may hate one another.

Journalism vs. Public Relations: why can't we be friends?

For me, the roles of journalists and PR professionals are on opposite ends of the spectrum. PR people work for a client. All their actions are meant to benefit that client. Journalists work for the people. All our actions are for the benefit of truth, thus aiding the greater good.

I have nothing against PR people. I think it is an important job. Somebody should be protecting the interests of companies and such as far as their media coverage goes. But for journalists, PR is simply a tool we use to get the information we need, and like any good tool sometimes it malfunctions. This happens mostly when PR practitioners are dishonest and sneaky with the media. Their clients do something stupid and rather than coming clean and owning up to whatever fiasco has arisen, the company’s public relations department decides to sweep things under the rug. They forget—journalists love dirty laundry.

Now, let’s be fair. Even though it is clear I am on the journalism side on this one, I have to say the status of the relationship between PR and journalists is just as much journalism’s fault as it is PR’s. For some reason, journalists like to make mountains out of molehills. Some of the so called fiascos wouldn’t be such if the media coverage was a little more careful. But still, journalism is just a tool to PR departments, just like PR is a tool for journalists. They need reporters to get their information into the public eye. But then they whine when we start printing the stories. Is it the journalists’ fault if they don’t like what we have to say? As long as the information is true and accurate, I say not at all.

The battle between PR and journalists is a delicate balance. The truth is we both need each other to do our jobs, yet at the same time there is a certain level of enmity brewing under the surface. Reporters look at PR as the hookers of journalism, selling themselves to the highest bidder. And the PR people, well they think the reporters are playing the martyr. We enjoy our penniless existence as long as we have our ethics to keep us warm at night.

Okay, that might be a little over the top. But I think it gets the point across. Journalism and PR are going to peaceable exist probably forever, but not because we want to. It’s because we have to.

News Media vs New Media

There are now an estimated 30 million blogs in the burgeoning blogosphere, and new ones are appearing at the rate of 100,000 new blogs a day.

At the same time, traditional main stream media is losing ground and consolidating.

Alan Saracevic muses on this upheaval in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Can't the media all get along?

It's no secret the media is in the midst of a grand revolution.

As with any major quake, the resulting damage has been severe. In the past weeks, months and years, the tension between what has come to be known as the mainstream media, or MSM, and its digital counterparts has become thick.

Newspapers are suffering and music publishers are litigating. Advertising dollars are floating from place to place, looking for safe harbor. And media consumers are drowning in a sea of information, unsure of what's trustworthy and what's false ... unsure of how to process all the data.

No one said revolutions were pretty.

Monday, March 13, 2006


selling my ethical values??
This is a hard topic because we never really know what we are going to be faced with in the future that could change our ethical stand point or comprimise our ethics.
I think I will have to take each situation as it comes to me. There are key ethical principals that will not be moved for most people including myself, but there are a lot of areas that can sway back and forth depending on the story/ problem. I don't know if anyone could say for certain that they would or would not to somthing always.
If we are talking money here I don't think I can be bought if it comes to that. I am pretty strong in my beliefs and if I am conviced of somthing it would be hard for somone to change my ethical convictions.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Choose your words wisely

My opinions on PR and journalism? Are they symbiotic? I suppose they would have to be. After all, PR is an emphasis under the JOURNALISM major. I actually don't know about the PR emphasis. Let's see. Press releases are part of it. I suppose in that aspect they have to depend on their skills as journalists to avoid libelous statements.

But when it comes to being directly symbiotic, I would argue that they are not. I would say, even though I have a feeling I'm wrong, that the two fields could operate independently from each other, for the most part. At least journalism could operate independently of PR. PR, on the other hand, might need journalists to get their information to the public. But I think that's about the extent of it.

Is their relationship strained? Mmm............debating.............I don't think so. Let's see. I imagine that one could get on the other's nerves now and again. Noone likes a nag. But I think, for the most part, that their relationsihp is pretty stagnant.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Selling my Ethics?

I would like to say that for the most part, I am a honest person and I always try to be fair. I value my ethics and would hope that I would never have to sell them. But like some of the other blogs I read, I think that my integrity would be the first to go. Which is kind of funny to me, because without honesty I do not think that most people can trust you or respect you.

I think that a lot of people would do stupid things for money... like sell your integrity. I agree with another post about that exactly being honest with your friend. I mean I would never tell my friend she had kankles either. I think that sometimes it is easy for myself to be deceitful and I am not doing it for money... So I would hate to see what I would do for money. However I am not sure I know the price.. hopefully it would be a lot!

Selling Ethics?

I would have to say that anybody who would sell their proclaimed ethics isn't really proclaiming the correct ethics for thier character. If somebody's ethics are that situational, then are they really the deep convictions that the ethical philosopher's we have studied have made them out to be? I would say that nobody can really sell their true ethics, or rather ethical foundation. Somebody who is willing to sell what might be termed ethical etiquette in a certain circumstance isn't really selling their ethics at all, because they don't believe enough in them to stand behind them. That's not to say that somebody's ethical standpoint can't change, but I believe that requires a more momentous experience than a simple exchange of money. Events, life, a change in the character of the individual may change thier ethical standpoint, but that doesn't mean they sold it out. If somebody sells "ethics," they aren't really selling much more than situational propriety, not their ethics.


I know I am a little late responding but here it is anyway...

Is deception by the media ever justified? Well I would like to say no, but there are some cases that I believe deception should be applicable. I mean, of course I would like to know the truth about what is happening in the nation, but due to the safety of the nation, sometimes things need to be withheld.

I believe that the NY Times was in the right to hold the NSA wiretapping story for a year. When the President decided to wire phone lines, he knew that it was not just an internal problem. By wiretapping the government was able to find information that was connected to the terrorist attack. If the NY times would have printed the story, then the source of the information would have been out. I think that for the safety of the country and for the need that the nation had for the information they were receiving the story could not have been printed.

No one likes to be decieved, but sometimes it is the best for the greater good.

Ethics for sale

Would I sell my ethical standards? That is a tough question. I would like to say absolutely not, never in a million years, but I can't. That would be the ideal, but the realistic answer. There are always times when a person must compromise an ethical value that they hold, whether it be to protect themselves or other people, or that the other option may be worse. It is never a clear cut and dry yes or no, right or wrong. Because we ARE dealing with the gray area, none of the issues are easy, so the question of "selling" ethical standards aren't easy either.

So my answer is that yes, sometimes I sell my ethical standards. Sometimes against my will...but it does happen.


For the Media Ethics midterm (March 21), you should know:

– the ethical philosophies of Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Ross, Royce, Rawls, Gilligan; and the basics of communitarianism as an ethical philosophy
– Kant's Categorical Imperative
– difference between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism
– what the Potter Box is and how to use it
– what cognitive dissonance is and how it’s used in advertising and public relations
– all the ethical values of journalism
– Sissela Bok’s principles for ethical decision-making
– the difference between law and ethics, and between ethics and morals
– how to make an ethical justification of a decision you make
– what journalism’s responsibility is to society
– what the major problems with Royce’s definition of loyalty are
– the history of thinking about truth, from Plato to the present
– what credibility is
– what the SPJ code of ethics says about journalism’s duties
– ethical problems with advertising
– what the TARES test is
– the balance and cognitive dissonance theories of persuasion
– advertising’s ethical problems with regard to vulnerable audiences
– how public relations professionals help journalists function
– why there is tension between PR and journalism
– what advocacy is and how it can be used as an ethical justification for public relations
– what constitutes a justifiable lie (and how to justify it ethically)

Be able to answer the questions in boldface at the beginning of the chapters 1-5 of Patterson and Wilkins, and be prepared to work out ethical justifications for problems raised by the three films we’ve viewed thus far.

Let's Compromise...

Would I ever sell my ethics? Well, who says I would even need money for them? Not to say I'm some dirty no-ethics kind of girl, but there are definitely situations where ethics can be, how do I say it, compromised. Here's just a small example, and don't pretend you haven't done it too! So your best friend gets dumped because she has, let's say, cankles. I have no idea how to spell that, but you know what I mean. Well, I would definitely not plan on telling her that her legs don't thin down enough before they reach her foot. She can't help it, so telling her she has cankles can only make her self-conscious. I could either say nothing at all or feed her some bull like most people do- "He' s probably just not ready for a relationship," "You're too good for him anyway,"... So, my friend's is important to me, but did I just give away my value of honesty? I don't think so. Sometimes other people's needs are more important than being the horrible, yet honest, friend.

However, small lies like this can lead to bigger ones, and I can only hope that I would never be willing to sell or give my ethics for anything outside of these tiny unimportant things. If it was necessary to save a person or my family, once again, compromise is the key word.

Ethics & The Black Market

Are my ethics for sale? Yup. I'll come right out and say that I'm sure there's a price. Though I'm not exactly sure where it is. My price would have to depend on my situation. For example, right now, I'm getting pretty dang sick of Raman noodles. I don't have a lot of dough to spare, so Raman it is! But aside from that, I'm not hurtin' financially too badly. So right now my ethics are pretty expensive. But if for some reason I found myself in a cardboard box on the corner of some street in New York City, then the price of my ethics would drop considerably.

Even in the cardboard box scenario, I would like to PRETEND that they'd still be reasonably expensive. However, if I had a family to support, and I was desperate for money or other support for them, then my ethics would become quite reasonably priced.

If I'm single, then my integrity means a lot to me. But if I were to have a family in need of support, I'll sacrifice my integrity quite early in the game.

As for which ethics I would compromise.... that's actually a lot harder to answer than whether or not I would compromise any. I think that pretty much any of them would equally dent my sense of integrity and self-respect.

The price would, however, depend on the extent of the ethics violation. For example, am I lying to just some random dude that asks me about "Big Joe", or am I lying to the Judge about "Big Joe"? Am I walking into an unlocked house to steal the $10 that someone knows their friend keeps under their pillow, or robbing a convenience store at gunpoint for a lot more money....and some skittles? The seriousness of the ethics-violation would determine the price.

But that's how selling my ethics would go. Anyone care to make any bids?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Can't be bought

"A job worth doing, is worth doing well." Doing my job (or anything else) to the best of my ability, so that I can advance with credibility and support my family is vital to me. An honest work ethic is crucial.

If my ethics are for sale then I risk losing everything that I have worked hard for. If I were to deceive others for my personal gain, sooner or later, someone will eventualy catch on that they have been decieved and it would be difficult to earn their trust back. And I would feel crappy!

Later on I must be able to look back at my life choices and know that my actions have been dignified and honest. I must be able to look the people that I've interacted with in the eye and know that I've dealt with them fairly. Fortunately I have not been in a situation where I was seriously tempted to compromise my values....and I hope I never am. However, no one is completely immune. Temptation and greed are a fact of life. As for today.... I can't be bought.

Ethics for sale?

At first thought: Hell no, I won’t sell my ethics.

Second thought: You know, that Michael Moore? He sure has sold his ethics out with his one-sided journalism. How found a huge market for his personal thoughts – sort of presented as fact without scientific review or rebuttal. And we are paying him money to view his opinions. How dare he make money off us in such an unethical manner?

Third thought: Hey, wait a minute, maybe I do the same thing. Every day I communicate to others. Do I tell my boss about the failures I had at work? Do I confess how much time I wasted in non-productive activity? If I were a car salesman, would I tell a customer that he ought to look elsewhere because I don’t have the right vehicle for him to buy?

I think that we compromise our ethics on a daily basis. At what price? Well, how much of my paycheck did I not earn? How much money did I make on that car I sold – the one that was ill suited for the customer?

Going once, going twice...

The first ethic I would sell would obviously be my loyalty to my friends. Man, they suck. Just kidding. Copyright infringements. That would be my thing. I'm already burning cds, so I might as well start plagiarizing and stealing stuff from the Internet. I'm not kidding, either. Well, to a certain extent. I probably wouldn't plagiarize stuff too much. But I would download stuff I'm not supposed to. And all that Jazz. I've already gone halfway, anyway, I might as well do the full thing.

At what price? At what price would I participate in a somewhat illegal activity that is probably one of the most commited crimes in America? I don't know, a couple hundred dollars to be a full-time Internet thief.

Get'em While They're Hot!

I don't think I really have any ethics that are for sale. For me, if something matters enough to take a side, determine a loyalty, I would hope that was it. There is no going back.

But ethics aren't really something we use to replace our values. As I understand it, our code of ethics is what comes into play when values conflict. I think that means there are times one of my values could come up on the auction block--if it challages something that's more important to me. I still don't think that means it's for sale. Selling your ethics means you chuck it all for money or something that isn't of as much value. It has an insider-trading sound to it. It safe to say, this isn't a good thing.

I don't have many moments in my history that I remember my values coming in conflict. Perhaps that means I made the right choice. Instead of selling my ethics, I traded up and picked the things that mattered most. But for those who do sell their ethics, the effect is about the same as not telling the truth. The reporter loses all their credibility if their loyalties aren't where they should be. Part of journalism credibility comes from the idea that journalists are bound by the truth and their loyalty to the people to tell it.

Ethics For Sale

When I read our blog topic, "Which of your ethics might be for sale? At what price?" my first reaction was a shocked and defensive "NONE". But after some further thought...

I believe in being honest, and in being honest no matter what the consequences. That means that I believe in obeying the law and paying my taxes honestly, even if I think The Man is robbing me blind. I think it's obvious by now that I'm conservative. I don't believe in a large government machine, or a lot of government granted benefits. The idea of an extensive government scares me; it's not something I want to pay to support. BUT- no matter what I believe, I am a citizen and I feel ethically bound to uphold the law, even if the law sucks.

Despite all this, I have to admit, if I knew I could never be caught, I would be sorely, sorely tempted never to pay taxes again. SORELY tempted. I could probably think of myself as a sort of modern day Robin Hood, and donate my tax money to charities and feel pretty wonderful, knowing my money was actually being put to good use, actually helping someone. The idea itself, of cheating the government and getting away with it, has, I must admit, a sort of outlaw appeal, and I don't think I'm alone in believing this. Don't we all want, just a little bit, to stick it to The Man? It's a classic American refrain, after all.

Would I cheat the government if I could get away with it?... for possible future legal reasons, ABSOLOUTELY NOT. But if anyone has figured out how to avoid taxes without detection, just slip me a note in class and I'll swear the blood oath or whatever.

The New York Crimes

Is deception by the news media ever justified? I think that first we have to decide what counts as deception. What about deception by omission? Is not printing a story because of outside issues, anything from national security to lack of reader interest, an act of deception? I think that depends on why the story was withheld. If the editors or authors of an article or story are deliberately trying to cover up or manipulate or control, however slightly, the information or facts, then they are deceiving their readers. The more inane, daily reasons for omission probably count as innocent; the larger, much more serious omissions because of national security and restrictions on media coverage during war don't count as deception, either.

What about deception through claimed objectivity? I think the media does this a lot. I especially notice this when they present "the two sides" of a story. A very liberal individual will give an account of the facts as they see it, followed by a moderate conservative, or vice-versa. Our assumption as consumers is that the truth lies somewhere between these two opposing opinions, but this creates a vision of the truth skewed towards a liberal interpretation. Dr. Williams compared the journalistic effort to be objective with daily trying to be perfect. You won't be, but you'll be a better person, and it's a good thing to do. I respectfully disagree. Not only do I think that objective journalism is impossible, I think that media that claims objectivity or tries to be objective but fails (as I believe is inevitable)is deceptive. If journalists wrote what they thought, subjectively and claiming subjectivity, and newspapers printed a truly representative range of opinion, I think we'd have a much more accurate media portrayal of facts.

Okay, so back to the original question... is deception ever justified? I don't think it is, especially in a media that presents itself, or has traditionally been presented as an objective source of truth. Our government is for, of and by the people, so the people need to be informed, and informed truthfully. Democracy necessitates a media that is not deceitful. I don't want to rag too much on the media in general. Despite my beliefs about objectivity, I still think we probably have the best, fairest, most ethical media in the world.

As for the NY Times holding the NSA wiretapping story for a year, I think it's interesting that they waited until the eve of the patriot act's revision to print. I also think it's interesting that the story broke shortly before the release of the author of the article's book about, among other things, wartime "spying".

Get your ethics here!

I know its wrong but its true when people say that every person has their price. I am no exception.

It pains me to say it, but if enough money was presented to me, I might do what I was asked and essentially turn my back on my ethics.

That is the great thing about people though is that they can justify ANYTHING. When someone 'sells' their ethics they are usually not thinking that they did a bad thing.

In their (my) mind they would be thinking there is some good reason for doing so. There probably isn't but they (I) are good making something up to at least feel good about it.

So yes, I daresay I am in danger someday of giving up my ethics for something of monetary value. But luckily my ethics will change just then to make that okay.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ethics for sale!...?

Those that sell their ethics turn out to be the Enron-type people in our society. They look great from the outside, everything they do seems perfect and then one day everything is revealed. People who sell their ethics get caught sooner or later and then loose all credibility.

I think lying and deceiving can be an addicting habbit. Most people who sell their ethics probably start out selling for a very cheap price and then down the road they get caught when they start to sell for higher prices, when more is at stake.

I would never sell my ethics it isn't worth it, there isn't any price I would sell my ethics for.

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog
why is the relationshop between journalism and P.R. both symbiotic and strained?
I never realized the strained relationship between P.R and Journalism.
The agendas between the two are definate contributers to the tension.
One of the main rocks on the road of a happy relationship is what the media is valuing. We saw on, Bowling for Columbine that the news will go where the blood is, the gun in that case. I think that it is sad that the possitive news is fighting to get on the air and any kind of 'bad' news is automatically thrust in the pubics face.
I am not saying that it is the journalist at fault. We already know that sex, death, and drama of any kind sells. With out the sells there would be no P.R. and none of us would have a job.
Looking at the P.R. side they have a lot of their 'happy' stories only because they are trying to 'spin' a story for their employers.
Both areas are doing what they need to for the paper and they both help each other out.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

MySpace: The Story of the Month

from Kelly McBride's Everyday Ethics blog:

MySpace is all over the news. It's dangerous. It's mysterious. It's menacing. It's a source of teenage hijinks, bad judgment, and even criminal behavior.

Yet it's here to stay. Like the school cafeteria, the bus stop, the mall and after school at the home of working parents, it's one more place where children and teens go to experiment with their identity and their world, away from the prying eyes of parents.

In the last month most MySpace stories come in three categories: Advice for hapless parents, criminal behavior and danger. Former Poynter Naughton Fellow Matt Thompson (now a deputy editor for interactive media at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis) was doing a radio interview on the MySpace phenomenon last week. No sooner had he finished than he found a story about the 16-year-old Colorado kid arrested after posting photos of guns.

Matt was the one who pointed out to me that current narrative is one of fear. A Canadian blogger, the Fine Young Journalist, has documented the coverage. Matt passed along the name Danah Boyd, youth culture researcher with some real information and observations.

A few of the recent MySpace stories have a more thoughtful approach. Steve Israel of The Times Herald-Record in New York wrote this story. We spent a long time talking about what makes MySpace different than hiding in the basement with your friends, sneaking cigarettes and finding your dad's old Playboy Magazines.

Are there other stories about MySpace that go beyond alarmism and fear?

Does this hook in with what Michael Moore said in Bowling for Columbine about America's culture of fear? What do YOU think?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bowling for misleading information

First off I did like the movie and agreed with much of what Michael Moore had to say.

I do have one criticism. Moore said several times that the United States has this huge crime rate. I don't recall at any time during the movie him ever giving the RATE. He gave hard data but that is meaningless unless it is plugged into the larger context.

He said Canada had, oh what was it, we'll say 65 killlings a year compared to our 12,000. That seems outrageous but Canada has only 32 million compared to the U.S.'s almost 400 million. So murders by guns in the U.S. account for .003 of a percent of the population. Canada calculated to .00020 of a percent, roughly.

This shows that Michael Moore was right. We do have a higher crime rate. But it is a more accurate representation. The way Moore presented it, Americans all run around killing 185 times more people than Canada. When the reality is when you compare our populations the U.S. kills 15 times more people by guns. This number is still outreageously high but it is much better than what origionally appeared to be 185 times higher.

If he is going to go on a rant about higher crime RATES I think he should at least give the rate. It would have remained true that we have a much higher crime rate just not as high as the other numbers showed.

Statistics can be a big problem in journalism. Depending on how they are framed a journalist can slant the stats however they want and people will buy it. Moore's numbers were correct, but did they paint the real picture?