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Archive for May 5th, 2005

Me? Ethical? Nahh …

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A recent study by two academics (at least one a former journalist) says that only doctors, seminarians and medical students outrank journalists in following ethical guidelines in their professional lives.

(Read the E&P story.)

That comes as no surprise to me (disclaimer: I teach media ethics). I know — and have trained — a great many journalists, and their ethical behavior meets professional standards. The few bad apples, of course, get the ink and taint the rest of them.

The big ethical dilemmas — and failures to get them right — get the most play in the press and the movies. What doesn’t make the headlines are the dozens of small decisions and judgments that journalists must make every day.

That’s what my colleagues and I at my university talk about in ethics classes — the continuum from “big” ethical issues to “little” issues — and that each issue, large or small, requires the same methodical attention to journalistic completeness of a story as well as appropriate ethical guidelines.

But buried in the story is the real troubling news.

Here’s what the story says (emphasis added):

“Nurses, orthopedic surgeons, and members of the Navy are among the groups that trailed journalists. Junior high school students scored lowest, with 20.0, just below prison inmates, with 23.7.”

Below prison inmates? Sheesh.

Yes, they’re young. And yes, their brains are not fully developed. But I find this worrisome.

Do you?


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 5, 2005 at 11:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized