The technical term for making ethical decisions is moral decision making.
According to C. Edwin Baker, communication is coercive (and thus unethical) if it manifestly disrespects and attempts to undermine the other person's will and the integrity of the other person's mental processes.
According to Bivins, the media do not influence society, they only reflect it.
The media are prone to ethical dilemmas partly because their actions are very public, and they influence the public.
The sole goal of the media is to serve as an instrument of democracy.
The media exist in a complex and competitive environment and can't always afford to act in the best interest of their readers, listeners and viewers.
The SPJ code of ethics was made up by people who didn't understand the realities of real-life journalism
The moral imperatives to behave ethically in gathering the news far outweigh, in most newsrooms, the economic (efficiency) imperatives of news gathering
Responsibility refers to the bundle of obligations one has associated with the multiple facets of one's job or function
Accountability refers to blaming or crediting someone for an action associated with a recognized responsibility.
Moral buck passing is the exception rather than the rule in complex organizations.
The Bormann defense is the failure to assume accountability for our actions because of orders from above
We do not hold people strictly accountable for the results of their actions if the outcome could not reasonably have been predicted
Personal values often come in conflict with professional values.
The default position of a professional journalist is to provide information unless there is a good reason not to.
Newsweek should be held strictly accountable for the suicide of Admiral Boorda.
Are all obligated to moral claimants such as employers, clients, and receivers of their messages
Have a duty to truth telling
Have a duty to avoid harming others
All share the same primary goals and loyalties
The goal of the news media is to bring the public the information that they need, not that which they want
The primary goal of advertising is to provide information about available goods and services.
Public relations must adhere to the informational goals of journalism (as opposed to persuasion) in order to achieve legitimacy.
Client loyalty generally supersedes loyalty to third parties for both advertising and public relations
Egoism is manifest by acting in our own self-interest
Personal, professional, and societal moral obligations are interchangeable; decisions made using one automatically apply at the other levels.
We must learn how and when the standards of each level apply in a given situation.
Instrumental values lead to something of even more value; they lead to greater values
Organizational ideals include profit, efficiency, productivity, quality, and stability.
Codes are typically organization-specific
Principles are guidelines for ethical action.
Policies are organizationally-based standards that members of the organization use to guide their actions.
The key to moral decision-making is to act from a perspective of care for others, and from a sense of obligation to serve rather than to prevail.
The greatest single roadblock to ethical decision-making by the media is their appeal to their obligations rather than to their rights and freedoms.
Consistency in media decision-making is the norm in the media.
The media should not feel an obligation to the effects they have on others.
It has no professional organization.
It does not provide an important service to society.
Journalists do not work autonomously
People can be journalists even if they have not received training as journalists
Journalists have long wanted their occupation to be classified as a profession
PR practitioners have historically rejected the trappings of professionalism.
Professions generally provide services that are vital to the organized function of society.
Professions generally do not require intellectual training or credentialing like occupations do.
Developing standards of performance and some training in them
The development of professional organizations
Freedom from the need to be licensed, credentialed or certified
Core bodies of knowledge to intellectualize the field
One barrier to public relations becoming a profession is its lack of enforceable standards.
Because journalists value autonomy and the libertarian perspective, they would welcome licensing to establish their professional credibility
Advertising has many of the trappings of a profession, including organizations, codes of ethics, and college degrees.
One of the key features that differentiates a profession from an occupation is service to society as a whole, a feature of professionalism that advertising may not offer.
Its position is that objectivity and providing information are the proper role and product of the media.
It is based in notions of communitarianism, which emphasizes responsibility to community.
It encourages news outlets to become involved in solutions to community problems, not just to report on them.
It encourages news outlets to foster public discussion and debate about relevant issues.
One way to satisfy a professional's requirement to act in the public interest is to do pro bono work.
Professional pro bono advocacy involves taking on cases and advocating for clients despite one's personal beliefs; without favoring one side of the issue or the other.
When an advertiser takes on a client for free it does not necessarily qualify as pro bono work; advocating for a particular interest is not necessarily serving the public interest.
The work of the Advertising Council does not qualify as pro bono work.
Advertising and public relations both have clients (not customers).
Journalists have customers (not clients)
The product of journalism is the only one protected by the Constitution.
The relationship between the media and the American public can be viewed as contractual, because of the First Amendment and the "public's right to know."
Falls squarely under the Agency model because news outlets make most news decisions based on what the audience wants to see and know.
Falls squarely under the Paternalistic model because journalists independently make decisions concerning what to cover in the news, what to headline, and what the public needs to know.
Falls squarely in the Fiduciary model of the professional-client relationship.
Acts paternalistically, but also takes the desires of the public into account by entertaining them with what they want
Public relations and advertising are both advocacy-oriented practices.
Advocacy ideology requires professional neutrality (detached from the client's purposes, without regard to the advocate's feelings) and aggressive partisanship for the client
The Agency Model and Advocacy ideology is shown by Bivins to successfully absolve advertisers and public relations from ethical responsibility for their client-directed actions.
Serious moral concerns can arise from ignoring third parties.
In a Fiduciary relationship, the professional is the stronger party and the client is the weaker party
Bivins concludes about the Fiduciary model that it is not a good model for professional communicators.
The issue of multiple responsibilities (as in third-party obligations) is among the most difficult problems associated with loyalty.
The obligation of candor requires the professional to disclose all information the client needs in order to make a good judgment.
Being a professional, one assumes different (but not enhanced) ethical norms than societal norms
Codes establish expectations of the ideal character of professionals in the field.
The difference between paparazzi and photojournalists is professionalism.
Professional codes can serve as a defense against being asked by peers or employers to do something that goes against the code's provisions.
Here's an interesting quiz for you.