The Moral Dilemma

“Human beings are good by nature” said French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Hey yall! we’re back at it again with the traditions… no I’m not finished yet lol.

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When people think about ethics, I think it’s safe to say that these questions come to mind – “what is right?” “what is wrong?” “Good or bad”.
However, the answers to these questions solely depend on the individual and where their moral compass is pointing. The Ethical Tradition plays into this a bit by following a set of principles. Learning about this Ethical tradition takes me right back to my days of being a mass communication student. I’ll tell you why in just a bit but first, let’s just take a look at what the Ethical Tradition is. In this tradition communication is seen as people of character interacting in just and beneficial ways. It comes out of the National Communication Association (NCA) which identifies three specific guidelines similar to that of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

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1) The communicator advocates truthfulness, accuracy, honesty and reason

2) The communicator has to accept any responsibility for short term and long term consequences of communication

3) Strives to understand and respect other communicators before evaluating and responding to their messages

On the other hand, the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Code of Ethics show similarities

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1) Seek Truth and Report it

2) Minimize Harm

3) Be Accountable

For me, I believe that journalists would find this tradition so relatable. Since the two associations both have 3 principles, I will break it down piece by piece and compare the ones that relate to each other.

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The first one of each deals with truthfulness. An audience is relying on the information coming from the communicator so for this very reason the communicator must be truthful, accurate, honest and reasonable. On the other hand, journalists are reporting to a mass audience so they should recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. They  and also, give voice to the voiceless.

In Communication Studies the second point states that communicator has to accept any responsibility for short term and long term consequences of communication. In journalism, this means that should always take responsibility for the accuracy of the work that they produce.

Finally, the last one states that it strives to understand and respect other communicators before evaluating and responding to their messages. This just simply means to listen before you speak. Take into consideration the what the other person is saying, try to understand where they are coming from, then seek to give your response. Meanwhile in the SPJ Code of ethics journalists should balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. In essence – weigh out the pros and cons before publishing an article that may or may not be offensive.

After all that discussion, you will see that this tradition definitely takes a humanistic approach without a shadow of a doubt and I definitely stand on this side. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter which theoretical standpoint you take, you should strive to follow the set of principles that are given by the NCA.

Well there you have it! Until next time guys!

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