Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Motive or Consequence?

People's opinions on what is an ethical decision can always be challenged and many times are. But good consequences always mean something good, right? Who can complain about that? Well, just like ethical decisions, what's good for one person may not be good for another. I think that no matter what, the motive behind an action always takes weight over the consequence. I'm sure people can think of plenty examples. A guy steals so his child doesn't die of starvation. Stealing is bad, but the man's intention, life for his child, can be nothing but good. However, maybe another guy collects food for hungry children on the streets before he decides to run for mayor. His actions may just be to look good. Feeding children is good, but doing it only to win an election could definitely be considered a bad motive.

In journalism, although some people may wish they had changed their actions because of bad consequences, I think motive still remains priority. I think that as long as the newspaper or whatever used a process to find different ways to publish (including not publish) information, their ethical decision as a whole should be considered. They should be able to explain to a possibly angry audience their motives for publication. In doing so, they show their priorities in publication and still allow viewers or readers to judge it themselves.

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