The Decision Made and the Reason Underlying It

The Decision Made and the Reason Underlying It

Journalism 305, Media Ethics – Final Paper

The assignment: As we’ve discussed various ethical dilemmas this semester, some of you have said, “That one’s complicated. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision.”

This time, you do.

This assignment asks you to analyze a case and write a paper explaining the decision you would make and the reasoning underlying it. I’m not looking for a “right” or “wrong” decision. I’m looking for a process of thoughtful ethical analysis that draws on what we’ve read and discussed this semester.

You may choose one of two cases, which are listed this way on our WebCampus electronic reserves link:

Day, Case 4-1: Undercover Advertising in the Public Square

Day, Case 4-3: Hidden Cameras and the Journalist as Social Conscience

The tasks: First, choose which case you want to write about.

If you chose case 4-1, you will assume the role of Lydia Mitchell, vice president for corporate communication and strategic planning for SolarLink Technologies. You must decide whether to approve Warren Douglas’s proposal to market your company’s new product.

If you choose case 4-3, you will assume the decision-making role of Manny Fernandez, news director for Channel 5. You must decide whether to authorize the use of hidden cameras to document the existence of sweatshops and the exploitation of illegal immigrants in your viewing area.

After reading your case several times, construct your framework for making the decision. . You may use the questions Bob Steele suggests in the Poynter Institute’s guide to ethical decision-making, construct a Potter Box that addresses similar issues, or come up with your own list of key questions.

The link to the Steele questions appears below and can also be found in the Web Links section of our class site, under the heading Frameworks for ethical decision-making.

The Potter Box is discussed on our textbook, pp. 100-102.


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