There will always be a need for ethics
By Elizabeth Webb
People are angry with Brian Williams, a trusted journalist, who lied about an incident he incorrectly reported citing that he acted unethically. The truth always has a way of coming out, and regardless, Williams lie was unethical. It is important to remember that in the media and in business ethics is important, and that there is always a need for Ethics.
Dictionary.com defines Ethics as “the body of moral principles or values governing or distinctive of a particular culture or group.” I feel that ethics are important for the media, especially journalists, PR, and Advertising, because these professions have a responsibility of delivering the truth and gaining the publics trust. It really is a shame that such people as Williams can manage to cause distrust. His story regarding the military helicopter and the RPG has sparked such a rage that his other stories are being investigated. The Knox Student, the non-daily student newspaper, reported that they were investigating one of William’s coverage on Hurricane Katrina.
In every job there is a standard and a code to follow. They are there for a reason. Ethics help distinguish between right and wrong, what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Ethics in media emphasizes being truthful and delivering that truth to the viewers and consumers of the media.
On Facebook, I’ve seen comments from people that say Williams should just be left alone while others want him removed from the Journalism field. He has been put on suspension for six months without pay. In my opinion, Williams acted unethically. He should be stripped of his awards and job. His credibility has been tarnished with his lies. Other journalists like Stephen Glass have lied and they’re careers were ruined because of the falseness of their stories.
It is incidents like these that journalism professionals need to face consequences when they break the code of Ethics. As stated by the Society of Professional Journalists, “ethical journalism should be accurate ad fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.” Williams’s punishment needs to be more extensive. His career in journalism needs to be over. The code of ethics is in place for a reason and in honesty, Williams didn’t tell the truth and he wasn’t fair or accurate in his reporting. Six months without pay is not a fair punishment for the price of his crime.
Brian Williams is only one strong reason why ethics is important and necessary. I hope that over time Williams will realize he should just put in his notice. However, I’m starting to think that such things like faking and lying about events that didn’t really take place happen for a reason. It serves as an educational tool for Journalism majors and journalists in general. It’s a good reminder that the public does pay attention and will focus on your mistakes as a reporter, writer, and photographer, whatever the case may be.
Shifting gears to ethics in advertising, since I am an ad major, I definitely think it is important to have a strong background in ethics. The last thing I would ever want to do is produce an ad that is unethical or misleading to anyone. It’s common knowledge and even awareness that we are exposed to thousands of advertisements every single day. To quote Chris Moor of Ogilvy & Mather, “People in advertising spend a lot of their time dealing with ethical choices, and those choices are almost never black and white. They’re subtle, shades-of-gray choices, juicy enough for a Philosophy major.” I really like how he says that choices are never black and white. I think that rings true for just about any situation within journalism. There are some shades of gray but for the most part, it really is black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. In advertising, creative teams may be presenting a product or service before a consumer’s eyes, hoping to pull them in to buy or try said product and service. It is still their job to deliver the truth. Advertising professionals are in the business of presenting a message, and it should always be a truthful and honest message, same with all journalism professions.
Straying off the journalism prospective of ethics, I was thinking of how ethics could relate to my future major in Higher Education Student Affairs. I have a strong passion for wanting to work with students. I want to be a mentor to them and guide them through their college journey through involvement and being successful in and outside the classroom. I’ve been thinking about the type of Student Affairs professional that I want to be and what qualities I need to have.
Being ethical is one of those qualities. I want to be someone the students can trust, come to when they need guidance and present a good moral front. I don’t want to be someone like Brian Williams who fabricates lies and gets caught. I don’t want to be someone that tells students one thing and then waits for the truth to come out before admitting to his faults. Ethics are a good strong foundation for whatever career. They are one hundred percent necessary.