Do Ethics Exist in Journalism?

Story by Mitch Waite

“I have a feeling that by the end of my talk, you’ll decide that no one is ethical,” said Jim Fisher, a professor in the Department of Communication.

Fisher gave a lecture to a class on Monday about moral and ethics in journalism and guidelines to follow when writing a story.

Fisher also stated “ethics is a process of making decisions.”  Sean Gustafson, a student who was present during the lecture, said, “It got me to think about what ethics really is. I’ve taken some philosophy classes so it was a good reminder of what really is ethics and morality.”  Aside from ethics, Fisher explained the purpose of a journalist.

Fisher further said, “journalism says that this is where I got the information, now you decide.”  He further stated that purpose of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  Also, Fisher emphasized the importance of the full story and getting the accurate truth.

Fisher explained that, “Nine times out of ten, weak-ass journalism is the result of presenting only two sides of a story.”  He stressed the importance of seeking the truth and properly gathering and reporting the right information.

Students who heard the lecture, such as Megan Hulet, felt that the overall goal of the lecture was to teach proper ethical journalism.  Fisher gave a guideline sheet to each student for their future story writing.

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.”