Reporters Flex Ethical Muscles

My friend RCAS sent me a link to this article on journalism ethics. Researchers at Louisiana State University, using the classic Defining Issues Test, found reporters to be more ethical than the average adult. Surprise, surprise: They're right up there on the ethical scale with doctors, medical students, seminarians and philosophers.

Obviously, unethical professionals, whether they are doctors, lawyers, politicians, priests or journalists, unfairly color people's perceptions of the profession as a whole. The vast majority of working journalists take great pride in their work and wouldn't knowingly do anything to damage their careers, their reputations, and their credibility. I believe that, just as I believe that not all cops are corrupt and abusive and not all lawyers are greedy and not all surgeons would leave their patient on the operating table to go cash their paycheck and buy some illegal drugs. These are the exceptions to the rule.

On the other hand, journalists as a group are pretty smart. They tend to know a little bit about a lot of things. Things like classic ethical scenarios, for example. I think it's likely that the typical journalists could take a scenario like this one and figure out the "right" answers. The same could be said for the seminarians and philosophers, who would of course be familiar with ethical scenarios, and who happened to score the highest of all groups.

What I'm saying is that I'm not surprised that the reporters* in this study can make ethical choices. The question is whether or not they do.

* (or anyone else)

1 comment:

Keely said...

I'm with you. I study journalism - and I do not trust my fellow students to make good ethical choices. In fact, a year ago, 6 students were thrown out of the school when they were caught downloading their final papers. They all submitted the same paper - - it was for the ethics class.