presentation to government communications officers pigg s peak 5 march 2013 n.
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Presentation to Government Communications Officers, Pigg’s Peak 5 March 2013. “Ethics of Reporting on HIV and AIDS Stories”. What is ethics. Sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people, "What does ethics mean to you?" Among their replies were the following:

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what is ethics
What is ethics
  • Sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people, "What does ethics mean to you?" Among their replies were the following:
  • "Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong.""Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs.""Being ethical is doing what the law requires.""Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts.""I don't know what the word means."
the meaning of ethics
The meaning of ethics
  • These replies might be typical of our own. The meaning of "ethics" is hard to pin down, and the views many people have about ethics are shaky.
  • Many people tend to equate ethics with their feelings. But being ethical is clearly not a matter of following one's feelings. A person following his or her feelings may recoil from doing what is right. In fact, feelings frequently deviate from what is ethical.
ethics and religious standards
Ethics and religious standards
  • Nor should one identify ethics with religion. Most religions, of course, advocate high ethical standards. Yet if ethics were confined to religion, then ethics would apply only to religious people. But ethics applies as much to the behavior of the atheist as to that of the devout religious person. Religion can set high ethical standards and can provide intense motivations for ethical behavior. Ethics, however, cannot be confined to religion nor is it the same as religion.
ethics not the law
Ethics not the law
  • Being ethical is also not the same as following the law. The law often incorporates ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe. But laws, like feelings, can deviate from what is ethical. Apartheid laws in South Africa are obvious examples of laws that deviate from what is ethical.
  • Finally, being ethical is not the same as doing "whatever society accepts." In any society, most people accept standards that are, in fact, ethical. But standards of behavior in society can deviate from what is ethical. An entire society can become ethically corrupt. Nazi Germany is a good example of a morally corrupt society.
ethics not societal standards
Ethics not societal standards
  • Moreover, if being ethical were doing "whatever society accepts," then to find out what is ethical, one would have to find out what society accepts. To decide what I should think about abortion, for example, I would have to take a survey of Swaziland society and then conform my beliefs to whatever society accepts.
  • The lack of social consensus on many issues makes it impossible to equate ethics with whatever society accepts. Some people accept abortion but many others do not.
what ethics is
What ethics is

What, then, is ethics? Ethics is two things.

  • First, ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud. Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well-founded reasons.
the constitution freedom of expression and the press
The constitution, freedom of expression and the press
  • Chapter III of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland 2005 provides for the Protection and Promotion of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms.
  • Article 14 (a) provides the human rights to freedom of conscience, of opinion and of expression including the media.
  • Human rights also speak to the dignity of the person
  • The media is therefore a rights holder and duty bearer
ethics a field of study
Ethics a field of study
  • Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards.
  • Feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.
  • Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based.
swaziland news media and ethics
Swaziland news media and Ethics
  • News media ethics are universal
  • Various efforts undertaken to develop and adopt a code with various results
  • Current code is the Swaziland Journalists Code of Ethics developed adapted from a SADC framework and adopted at Simunye in 2006
  • Developed in collaboration with NERCHA
  • Incorporates the generic issues on news media
  • HIV&AIDS stigma and discrimination issues
  • Protection of women and girls
  • Brings on board Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill
  • Input from DPP
ethics apply to everyone
Ethics apply to everyone
  • Each of us has a moral obligation to be ethical in our practice – whatever our area of practice
  • Government communications officers must also observe a code of ethics
  • The news media in Swaziland has codified ethics relating to their profession
  • News media code has an enforcement mechanism
code of ethics swaziland
CODE OF ETHICS – Swaziland

Code has 19 articles

  • Truth
  • Social responsibility
  • Professional integrity
  • Plagiarism
  • Privacy and human dignity
  • National and ethnic values
  • Confidential sources
  • Suppression of news
  • Corrections
  • Rejoinders

11. Obtaining information

12. Separating comment from facts

13. Hate speech

14. Respecting embargoes

15. Survivors of sexual violence

16. Dealing with minors

17. Personal grief

18. News headlines and sensationalism

19. Ethical guidelines in reporting on HIV&AIDS