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.

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.