Debating Ethical Approaches

Making ethical decisions are never easy, in fact, they are extremely complicated. We are faced with certain situations and we chose to go about them in a certain way. For someone who is making decisions on what to communicate and how to do it to a mass audience, it’s vital to find a balance between, “Can I push the boundaries?” or “Should I be more restrictive?” It’s important to ensure the action(s) you opt to employ are those in which you feel your audience will appeal to.

Reporter's notebookIt’s important to note that ethics are not laws and there is that level of transparency as to what is deemed appropriate v. inappropriate. An example that can be brought up is whether or not a journalist is crossing the line if he/she contacts a friend of a murder-victim with his/her personal profile without identifying who they are. As stated before, there is no “exact” right or wrong answer; I would find this type of reporting as somewhat unethical, based on a few different scenarios.

If the journalist allows ample time to the family and friends to grieve over the loss of a loved one, then I see that as a more ethical approach. The one negative to this is if you allow that time gap between the interviews, then the story could lose relativeness based on time. The audience today wants breaking news, and the story that dominated headlines today, could take a back seat tomorrow.


I think timeliness plays a huge role in this example, not so much about someone identifying himself or herself on Facebook. Again, it really depends on what ethical position you want to take. If your duty is to get the story and quotes from people who were actively involved in it, then you have to adjust your approach.

As a journalist though, I would be very respectful to someone who lost a loved one. I understand the value of getting the story, but I also understand people’s emotions and how they need their space sometime. If I had to get the story the day of the incident, then I would look to take other measures to make sure the story was accurate, valuable and publishable.

Ethical instances, such as this one, are a commonality when it comes to getting source information. You want to dig as deep as possible into the story, but it depends on whom the person is in relation to how far they are willing to go. It might have something to do with pressure from your employer or your ego that needs to get the story. I think care ethics is intrinsic to maintain a positive reputation. When you specifically keep the person in mind and you opt to build a relationship with them, you are then able to be trusted more by the source. And in turn, you are able to trust the source even more.


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