The Seven Deadly Sins of Ethics MC3306 11.13.13
#1. Plagiarism • What is plagiarism? • “Passing off someone else’s work as your own.” • Plagiarism includes straight copy and paste and even slightly reworking someone else’s work. • It is the most shameful of the seven deadly sins, and often leads to the end of your career.
Example of Plagiarism • “Walk down St. Paul’s steps and make a right turn onto the first busy main road. Suddenly you’ll be immersed in a series of narrow streets full of shops selling clothing, Chinese art and artifacts, herbal medicines, jewelry, crafts and utensils.” -Robert Selwitz, 1997 • “Upon leaving, walk down St. Paul’s steps and make a right turn onto the first main thoroughfare. Suddenly you’ll be immersed in a series of narrow streets full of shops selling clothing, Chinese art and artifacts, herbal medicines, jewelry, crafts and household utensils.” -Stephen Dunphy, Seattle Times, 2004
How to Avoid Plagiarism • Rethink • Attribute • To repeat, plagiarism at the school level gets you kicked out of the program. At the professional level, it often ends your career.
#2. Fabrication • What is fabrication? • “Manufacturing quotes or imaginary sources, or writing anything you know to be untrue.” • We deal with facts in journalism. • We deal with facts that must be verified.
#3. Deception • What is deception? • “Lying or misrepresenting yourself to obtain information.” • It is typically unethical for reporters to disguise their identities. • Exceptions: Restaurant reviewers, undercover investigations
#4. Conflict of Interest • What is conflict of interest? • “Accepting gifts or favors from sources or promoting social/political causes.” • There are different levels of bribery: • Free tickets to a show • Free alcohol • Free dinners • Stock market tips
#4. Conflict of Interest • There there are things like: • Bumper stickers • Signs on your desk • Appearing in rallies/marches • You must work as hard as possible to maintain your objectivity as a journalist.
#5. Bias • What is bias? • “Slanting a story by manipulating facts to sway readers’ opinions.” • These days, it seems like everyone in journalism is taking sides. But reporters don’t. Leave that to pundits and columnists. • If you have an agenda, become a politician.
#6. Theft • What is theft? • “Obtaining information unlawfully or without a source’s permission.” • Theft isn’t just unethical – it’s illegal. • My old station learned this the hard way. Lawsuits, settlements, firings, etc.
#7. Burning a Source • What is burning a source? • “Deceiving or betraying the confidence of those who provide information for a story.” • Mellow cases of burning a source lead to hurt feelings or mistrust. Extreme cases of burning a source could lead to the source being fired or arrested.