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.”

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.”