Needed: Everyone to think about ethics

By · Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Nurse Foofie has approved this message, adding that ethical thinking is good for the mind and benefits everyone.

For roughly the past 30 days, we have taken our own advice, which we wrote in our last blog post: It’s acceptable to have an unexpressed thought.

We have not posted to this blog since that entry.

During that time, we thought each day about what we might write. But, we also were well aware that there sure is a lot of information blogging around the universe.

So why start expressing now?

You can tell a lot about strangers just by the way they drive. And you can tell a lot about people by the way they handle situations involving ethics.

Ethics was today’s topic in my editing class.

Can you guess how some of those drivers out there would answer these ethical questions?

Decisions about ethics should be made carefully and thoughtfully, with benefit of the wisdom of others and of past experiences. We learn from our own mistakes and our own small victories. We pass it along.

Or, do we? Picture the new newsroom model that’s been coming into view. Layoffs and let-gos of years – in some cases decades – of institutional knowledge. The unraveling of a system of checks and balances that traditionally put information through layers of fact-checking and editing. Elimination of time to think, to polish, to question, to proofread, to ask the all-important question, “What’s the story?” Or, even to ask, “Is this really news?”

Is anyone out there even available to discuss an ethical question, situation, dilemma that arises? Do content creators have a system for handling ethical issues?

Does anyone even care?

Based on the answers I heard in class today, yes. People do care. And they are the up-and-coming next generation of thinkers who will work as journalists in redesigned newsrooms, in reconfigured roles, and with reconstructed sets of tools and technology. No different in many ways from previous evolutions of journalists through the years. Except for one thing: fellow journalists.

As more newsrooms adopt the back-pack journalist model, the all-in-one content producer and the leaner one-person layer that gathers and publishes, someone had better keep careful watch over the ethics of it all. If these high-tech, fast-paced times lead to inattentiveness to right and wrong, a moral compass, and gut instinct, then we will all be living in a state of deep regret – if, that is, anyone remains who passed all of that along.

Emilie Davis

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