Apr 17, 2020 in Research
Media Ethics

The Ethical Issue Presented

The present ethical problem was delineated from the case study when one reporter has published the story that humanizes the recent rise of Latino immigrants. This issue was based on the Journalist Code of Ethics that considers the published information on the private life of a person to be offensive and immoral. One has argued that publication of such information may damage an individual’s reputation since it is believed to be an invasion of privacy that could influence the moral character and worsen a person’s life. Similarly, the lives of the nearest family members and friends could be disrupted through the publication as all their daily activities would be exposed to the public.

Type of your assignment
Academic level

Facts that Have the most Bearing on the Choice of Ethical Decision

With that, the following points are the most essential one in determining the manner of publishing the story and the necessity of doing it if I choose to print it. They include:

  • My reputation as an editor before the editorial board members and the community as a whole;
  • Publication about private life of Latino immigrant is publicly important when dealing with the recent rise of Latino immigrants to the state;
  • Publishing the story would significantly impact third parties such as the person’s family members and friends;
  • The individual in question is a close friend and printing this type of information may seem like a betrayal to the bond of friendship;
  • It is business news, and as a journalist, I am obligated to increase the audience as much as possible for economic gain;
  • The reporter has given a fair warning about the consequences of publishing the personal information to the individual;
  • The society may view the publishing of personal information in media as an infringement on the person’s rights.

Claimants Who Have a Significant Influence on the Choice of Ethical Decision

The following petitioners have a great influence in determining the appropriate moral decision in regards to the predicament at hand.

  • Community members: the members of the society are entitled to know the truth about their environment; therefore, they would prefer to be informed about current events and issues that surround their daily activities. My duty of a journalist is to provide them with straightforward news about their lives. Thus, as a newspaper’s editor I have to highlight the most important and recent events that happened within the community..
  • The newspapers agency: I would be very interested in publishing the Latino immigrant’s story as it would bring an economic benefit to the news agency. My contract stipulates that I have to always remember about the interests of my company when doing my duties as an employee. Similarly, I owe the company lots of gratitude for offering me this editorial job; thus, publishing the story would be a way of showing an appreciation for the opportunity offered.
  • Editor: As an editor I am entitled to evaluate the story, so as to identify what is fair to publish and what is not. This conforms to my obligation of self-improvement whereby I gain the opportunity to preserve my integrity by determining the vital information for the public. Besides, evaluation of the information also helps me not to harm other persons unintentionally.
  • The immigrant: It would not be in the alien’s best interest to have his personal information published. Possibly, it would lead to his deportation by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Therefore, it would be unjust to him and his family to publish the personal information. Besides, I am obligated to help a person in need and posting the personal information would inflict harm on the individual.
  • The immigrant’s family members and friends: The immigrant’s family would not be happy to read some of their personal information that would disrupt their way of leaving and possibly lead to deportation from the country. As the editor, I am obliged to protect them from such consequences; thus, publishing their personal information would be unfair.
  • The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): The USCIS organization is obliged to deport undocumented workers from the country. As a result, it would support the publication of the immigrant’s personal information as it refers to the public interest. As an editor, I have to print all the information that relates to public interests.

The Most Probable Courses of Action in Solving the Ethical Dilemma

In this regard, there are three main courses of action that I would undertake to resolve the publication dilemma. First, I could choose not to publish the Latino immigrant’s personal information that includes details of his family, friends, and workplace. The best-case scenario would be when the immigrant, his/her family, friends are protected from harm and continue with their daily activities as expected. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario would include losing my editorial job in the newspaper agency. If I not publish the story, the community as a whole would not benefit from this as they did not get the truth about their surroundings. I would also suffer from this situation as I would fail to execute my responsibilities as expected. In this regard, honoring my professional and organizational models would automatically invalidate this choice of action. I would also disregard the central corporate goal of gaining the profit and as the agency’s employee I should act in a manner that conforms to the company’s preferences. Furthermore, various laws and principles also invalidate this alternative action. They include people’s right on truthful information which requires a journalist to present an objective picture of reality and to respect public interests as journalist’s professional standards and actions have to be consistent with such interests.

Second, I could choose to publish the Latino immigrant’s story as presented by the reporter. The best-case scenario would be to make people aware about recent growth of Latino population in the state. The worst-case scenario would initiate the harm to the immigrant, his family, and friends. Such news would disrupt their lives by attracting attention not only from the public but also from the S Citizenship and Immigration Services. Integrating this action would psychologically hurt the immigrant and his family as they would face the criticism and possible deportation from the state. They would be perceived by the community as lawbreakers despite the fact that the immigrant earned a living by a hard work. Honoring my personal ideals of compassion, loyalty, fairness, and respect for persons would inevitably invalidate this course of action. This happens due to being unjust to the immigrant and his family who lived a peaceful life in the state. Thus, publishing the story would be the wrong decision because of the compassion and respect for people. Besides, laws and principles such as the journalist’s professional integrity, respect for people’s privacy, dignity, and journalist’s social responsibility would automatically invalidate this course of action.

Third, I could chose to publish the story but use imaginative details instead of the real particulars of the Latino immigrant in the state including his family, friends, and workplace. The best-case scenario here is that the story would mobilize awareness of the community about the recent increase in the number of Latino immigrants in the state and protect the immigrant, his family, and friends from media critics at the same time. The worst-case scenario would happen to the newspaper agency who would lose popularity for printing deceptive information in the press. The story itself could also lose the intended impact as it would be softened via editing. The newspaper agency’s reputation would be harmed as it would violate its mandate to present truthful information to the public at all times. The Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) would also be hurt as they would receive misleading information, thereby making their work difficult than it should naturally be. Nevertheless, the professional ideals such as quality and efficiency would automatically dismiss the course of action as the printed information would be dishonest. Such rules and principles as journalism professional integrity and eliminating great wrongdoings in the community will help the action be automatically invalidated because publishing of deceptive information would not have any significant impact on the recent rise of Latino immigrants.

The Ethical Theories’ Stand on the Course of Action

  1. Mill’s Harm Principle. The Mill’s Harm principle states that an action should be prevented if it inflicts harm on the others. Therefore, it recognizes the rights and interests of all the subjects affected by a particular action so as to avoid limiting their freedom. In this relation, the Mill’s Harm principle rejects all the alternatives on the basis that each action is likely to cause harm to some particular parties involved to a certain extent. For instance, the first choice of not publishing the story inflicts the harm to the community by invading their right to the truth; and the second choice of posting the story as presented inflicts losses to the immigrant, his family, and friends. The third choice of publishing the story using innovative details inflicts damage to the newspaper agency by violating its liberty to present accurate news to the public.
  2. Machiavellian Ethics/Egoism. As per egoism ethical theory, an individual’s action and goal should be motivated by one’s own interest and desires. Thus, people should promote their own interests above other values as a guide to their behavior and actions. As a result, egoism rejects my first course of action on the basis that it would lead to my unemployment, which I am not interested in. Nevertheless, the theory also rejects the third choice since it does not conform to my interests. However, it supports the second alternative as it would promote the organization as a business which would be beneficial to my career as the editor of the story.
  3. Mill’s Utilitarianism. Consequently, Mill’s utilitarianism ethical theory is based on the morality of consequences of choosing a particular deed. The outcome of an action should be built in terms of benefits or harms whereby they should do more good to the greatest number of people. In this regard, the utilitarianism would reject my first course of action as the deed would cause harm to the community, which contains a significant number of persons compared to the immigrant’s family and friends. Similarly, the theory also rejects the second course of action on the basis that the action does not ensure the least amount of harm done as the immigrant, his family, and friends would be hurt. Nevertheless, the theory supports the third choice as it presents greater benefits to the largest number of people which include the immigrant’s family, his friends, and the community as a whole compared to the newspaper’s agency and the INS.
  4. Aristotle’s Golden Mean. The Aristotle’s golden mean states that morality of an action lies between two extreme pleasures which include doing too much or too little. Therefore, the theory views morality of an action as the ability to avoid overdoing or underdoing a deed. The golden mean rejects my first alternative action as disappearing completely from the printed story, which could be regarded as vice of underdoing. Likewise, it rejects the second alternative as publishing the story would refer to overdoing. Nevertheless, it supports the third choice as it is the means between the two extremes of publishing and not publishing the story.
  5. Virtual Ethics. Consequently, virtual ethics evaluates morality of an action based on character rather than on the sense of duty or consequences of an action. As a result, the morality of an action is evaluated through virtues and practical wisdom. Virtual ethics rejects my first and second alternatives based on the fact that they undermine my personal ideals of compassion, loyalty, fairness, and respect for people. However, it supports my third alternative action based on the fact that it allows me to help someone in need, which is the fact that can be interpreted as compassionate.

Non-Consequential Ethical Theories’ Stand on the Choices of Action

  1. Kant’s Categorical Imperative. Additionally, Kant’s categorical imperative judges the morality of an action based on whether the deed is right or wrong rather than the act’s consequences. As a result, the morality of an action is derived from reasoning and logic, whereby taking action of free will is morally acceptable regardless of the consequences. In this line, Kant’s categorical imperative supports my first and third choices based on the fact that they were developed out of my good will as an editor in terms of helping the immigrant, his family, and his friends. On the contrary, it rejects my second course of action as it was developed out of the sense of duty and not of my free will.
  2. Rawl’s Veil of Ignorance. Consequently, Rawl’s veil of ignorance evaluates the morality of an action based on two basic principles of justice which include: offering equal shares to different liberties ignoring their original situation and arranging the inequalities within the society in a manner that helps the less fortunate individuals. In this line, Rawl’s veil of ignorance rejects my first course of action as it does not offer equal chances of liberty to all the parties involved. Similarly, it also denies my second alternative based on the fact that the deed itself does not help the less fortunate ones in the society, which refers to the immigrant and his family. Nevertheless, it supports my third choice as the deed rearranges the community inequalities in a manner that achieves the maximum power.
  3. Social Responsibility. However, social responsibility states that all actions are morally acceptable if they are directed to the benefit of the society as a whole. As a result, social responsibility rejects my first course of action as it advocated for not publishing the story, which does not benefit the community. However, it supports my second and third choices as both actions are directed towards the community’s good.

The Best Course of Action Based on Analysis

In this regard, I will publish the story that humanizes the recent rise of Latino immigrants in my state as presented by the reporter. However, instead of using the exact personal details of the 21-year-old man, his family’s and friends’ particulars, I will use innovative names to protect their real identities from the public.

Defense of the Decision to the Most Adamant Detractor

Your position to remain adamant to my decision is based mainly on economic benefits, sense of duty, and responsibility to protect the community as a whole from any harm. Therefore, it seems reasonable to you for me to publish the immigrant’s story as presented by the reporter including the immigrant’s personal details, the ones of his family and his friends. Your arguments are mainly centered on egoism ethical which prompts you to put your desires and interests above all other variants in evaluating the best course of action. Similarly, your choice is also driven by the Mill’s harm theory which strives for minimizing damage as much as possible, thereby directing that all the measures that create harm are avoided. In this regard, publishing the immigrant’s story would be the most acceptable alternative for you.

However, promoting one’s interests and desires should also be reasonable whereby a person should also appeal to other virtues other than the emotionally driven instincts alone. This concerns the fact that we live in a democratic society where different people are granted different desires and interests. Your desires and interests may not be another person’s desires. Therefore it is important for people to define the medium that conforms to everyone’s desires equally manner. As a result, the minority’s interests and desires should also be put into consideration when deriving the most likely course of action in terms of publishing the story. Apart from the relevance to the sense of duty and responsibility of protecting the society from harm, it is crucial to evaluate the degree to which the individual can harm the society. This can be mainly achieved through virtual ethics moral theory so as to evaluate an action based on the individual’s character. The immigrant in question earns an honest living by going to work and has even made friends in the community; thus, it would be prima facie wrong for you to perceive him as a threat that could harm the community. In this regard, it would be morally acceptable to hide the immigrant’s personal details while publishing the story.


Related essays