What is a reporter to do?

By. R. Ammon Ayres

SALT LAKE CITY, “If you know the truth report it,” said Associate Professor of communication, Jim Fisher.

On Tuesday Fisher presented to University of Utah students the importance of how to and why to be ethical when writing as a journalist.

Fisher elaborated on a set code of ethics provided by the Society of Professional Journalists. The four ethical guidelines are: Seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable. He said that when journalists write they should consider if what is written is honest, true and necessary for the report.

When a journalist seeks the truth and finds someone has been lying to the press, what is to be done? Reporting the truth whether it is good or bad should be reported.

Fisher explained a story of how a fellow reporter recorded a story about a high school coach that inspired students. Among the story he discovered the coach was a fraud. Fisher helped out the coach by choosing a way to report the truth in a light that would minimize harm to the coach.

“Your gut feeling may be your best guide,” said Fisher. When it comes down to choosing between reporting good or bad news, reporters are encouraged to follow their gut9o and minimize harm.

Andrew Jones, a student said, “It’s hard to know how one could follow the arbitrary idea of ethics, one could argue either way.” When it comes down to making that choice, it isn’t black and white.

Professor gives a lesson on ethics and morals

By: Kristin Bingham

Associate professor and lecturer Jim Fisher illustrated the difference between morals and ethics through comical stories and examples for a news writing class Tuesday.

“I thought that ethics and morals were a little different but didn’t realize how different they really are-I thought they always overlapped,” said strategic communication major Ryly Larrinaga, who was present during his speech.

Fisher shared stories to help clarify where ethics is needed in reporting. One of the stories he shared was called Sunday, published for the Columbia Missourian Sunday Magazine. Sunday really touched on how to write a genuine story that could turn controversial when ethics aren’t considered.  The story is about John Hamilton who is a swimming coach at Hickman High School. The story discusses his success as a coach but also how he has touched hundreds of lives.

Among the different aspects of ethics that Fisher discussed, he really emphasized that gut feelings may be the best thing in determining what is ethical.

“Morals and morality seem to have conscience, religion and rules. Ethics is the process of making a choice, what is the best decision at the time,” said Fisher.

Overall Fisher’s lecture helped to clear up some of the confusion between morals and ethics. Ellen Lewis, a student among the news class who heard his speech, had this to say: “Fisher changed my point of view. Morals have a conscience-you can still be immoral and practice good ethics.”

Student Journalists Learn the Difference Between Morality and Ethics

Story by Marquis Newman

On Monday, Oct. 3 Jim Fisher, a professor at the University of Utah, gave a lecture to a group of students on the difference between ethics and morality in the context of journalism.

Fisher, a professor in the Department of Communication, is a former journalist and editor for Sunday Magazine, an insert for a Colombia, Mo. newspaper.

Monday’s lecture was to teach students and get them to think critically about the difference between morals and ethics.

“I thought Jim did a great job. He was very credible because he was editor for his own paper, and he opened my eyes to the difference between ethics and morals,” said Alex Goff, a student who attended the lecture.

According to Fisher, “Ethics is a process of making a decision.” Fisher presented different types of stories, scenarios and situations where the students had to make decisions that real journalists would have to make.

After the students made their decisions on each scenario, Fisher emphasized that no matter what the decision was, the student made an ethical decision because he “took the time to think about it.”

Fisher concluded the lecture by saying “The last thing to consider in an ethical argument is more-than likely loyalty.” He asked, what are journalists loyal to? Is it the paycheck, the ideal value of reporting facts and the truth, the community or anything else?
When asked about the lecture, freshman Rachel Maughan praised the “many good details” used and thought the stories made the lecture interesting.

Jim Fisher Gets Ethical

Story By: Kade Sybrowsky

Jim Fisher, associate professor lecturer in the Department of Communication, gave a lecture on media ethics to an Intro to News Writing class on Monday, Oct. 3.

Fisher initially asked the class “What the hell is the difference between morals and ethics?”
He explained that “morals are things that institutions set out as laws…ethics is a process of making decisions… The two are different.”

“He really opened my eyes about the difference between ethics and morals,” said Alex Goff, a student who attended the lecture.

Ethics involves people on a story getting together and asking the main question of running a story and the consequences of running it. Fisher explained thinking of what the viewers reaction will be is essential.

He explained that when running a story it is important to get more than just two sides to the argument. “Nine times out of ten, weak-ass journalism is the result of presenting only two sides of a story,” said Fisher.

Callie Mendenhall, a junior in the class said “I never realized how much there actually was to something so seemingly simple as ethics.”

Fisher also discussed the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics. The four main points include: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable.

“If you aren’t being accountable, then you aren’t doing journalism.” Fisher said.

Evaluating Ethics

Story by Lyndsay Frehner

Morals help to guide lives and ethical decisions.   In a recent lecture for the Introduction to Newswriting class, Jim Fisher, a professor in the Department of Communication, informed students on ethics and journalism.
“Ethics is a process of making decisions,” said Fisher.  When people get together to make decisions, the process is a continual circle of deciding which morals and ethics will get the best results.  Once that choice is made, the next step is to evaluate where to go with that decision.
Ethics help to govern the decisions that are made.  Student Kylee Mecham said, “I like the way he could show both sides of the story.  He makes you evaluate the whole situation by going full circle.”
As a part of the lecture, Fisher illustrated an anecdote about ethical journalism.  Journalism is full of interesting choices for reporting the news.  Fisher also stated, “If you aren’t accountable, then you aren’t doing journalism.”
To report the news, one must seek out the relevant information and account for it.  There will be a decision to post a fact or not depending upon the importance of the fact.  Pertaining to releasing the relevant facts, Fisher told students, “Everyone is willing to let things go until there is a victim involved.”
As the lecture drew to a close, student Megan Hulet said, “I liked the way he wasn’t afraid to lay out the way it is.”  Every situation that needs resolution depends on the ethics and morals that govern behavior; especially in journalism. (251)

Jim Fisher’s view of Morals and Ethics

Story by Kaitlyn Christensen
“Ethics is the process of making a decision and morals is what we have been told is right by our church and mothers,” said Jim Fisher, Associate Professor Lecturer in communication.
Oct. 03, 2011, Jim Fisher lectured a class of journalism students at the University of Utah about morals and ethics.
“Most of us are ethical people,” said Fisher, but would any one push that aside to get ahead and print the story of a journalist’s career?
Fisher wanted the students’ input in different scenarios and to see if it was right or wrong to send an article to the press that could potentially ruin the reputation of the people behind it.
These scenarios had students questioning what they would do in this situation.
Callie Mendenhall, a journalism student at the university, said, “His lecture was great; his talk about ethics made me question between what was right and what was wrong.”
Is it write to say something that could potentially hurt someone in the end?
“Community standards, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Fisher said about towards when considering one’s morals in a story.  The lecture opened another door for students when it comes to journalism.
Katie Andrus, a journalism student from the University of Utah said, “The lecture gave such great insight on what the difference was between ethics and morals.”