Media ethics. A conclusion. Ethics conclusion. In this class we’ve tried to touch on a variety of ethics problems media practitioners might face. We began by talking about whether we can rightfully learn ethics at all in a class Should ethical relativism be our guide?
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Media ethics A conclusion
Ethics conclusion • In this class we’ve tried to touch on a variety of ethics problems media practitioners might face. • We began by talking about whether we can rightfully learn ethics at all in a class • Should ethical relativism be our guide? • Most of us seemed to think it should not.
Ethics conclusion • Ethical relativism does not offer the possibility of critical scrutiny. • “Everybody has the right to his opinion.” But we have the responsibility to critically consider those opinions. • We decided, perhaps, instead that “Everybody’s opinion has the right to be heard.”
Ethics conclusion • The danger with believing that ethics is relative to a society’s standards, and that society’s differ from each other—is that you end up condoning such society’s as Nazi Germany or Pol Pot’s Cambodia. • Just because it’s a moral view of a society doesn’t mean it’s “equally correct.”
Ethics conclusion • Personal bias is the basis for ethical decisions of many. • But we as media practitioners have a greater responsibility to consider our prejudices more critically—because our decisions can affect thousands, perhaps millions.
Ethics conclusion • The goal of this class was to help us find ways to do that through critical analysis. • It was not designed to be indoctrination. Of the cases covered this semester, you probably don’t recall very often the instructor offering his opinion. • That’s because the instructor’s opinion on these cases doesn’t matter. What matters is the process you go through to make your own decision.
Ethics conclusion • How do we consider complicated factors in an organized way? • I hoped this class would give you some system of considering the evidence, your values, the alternatives, and the defense of your decision. • The ethics worksheet offers one way to do that.
Ethics conclusion • Having a decision-making system helps us really consider what’s at stake, who is involved, and what you believe. • The defense of your decision was emphasized, because media people often have to defend ethical decisions, and they often don’t do a very good job of that.
Ethics conclusion • You’ll hear many media people say they make decisions “on a case-by-case basis.” But guidance is available if you recognize it. • Every major media organization has a code of ethics designed to help us make decisions—but a lot of folks in the media don’t even realize they exist.
Ethics conclusion • Even if codes have their limits, as we discovered, they can help. • We also have to remember that media ethics is more than journalism—it applies to the entire spectrum of communication-related disciplines.
Ethics conclusion • So some final thoughts. In a world full of cynicism, people responsible for one of society’s most powerful forces, the media, need some sense of responsibility to consider the impact of their exercise of this power.
Ethics conclusion • Secondly, it seems we need to understand a little more about how ethical decisions that we and others make affect distribution of power in our society. • Power is distributed through distribution of information. • Those with the information have power to make decisions in a democracy.
Ethics conclusion • The media are in the information business, supplying and redistributing information to those who do not have it. And when they have it, they can take action. • The ability to take action is the definition of power.