Using Multiple Sources

After reading the article and thinking about what it takes to have a credible story, I believe that no, it is not ethical to break a story using just one source.  Using just once source means you are using only one side of a story.  In order to be completely accurate and unbiased in a story it is crucial to use sources with information on both sides of the story.  It is hard to remain neutral, which is one of the responsibilities of a professional in this profession, if only one source is used.

The SPJ Code of Ethics states, “test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.”  That being said, if you only have one source you cannot test the accuracy and check for errors if there is nothing to compare to.

Next, finding evidence of the story on social media is not enough to run with a story that has only one source.  Social media posts are more times than not fueled by emotion and passion. That being said, information and evidence that is most likely created with emotion is not credible.  Emotions often times contribute to irrational choices or posts.  To be completely neutral, all emotions have to be set aside.

Breaking a story through a letter to the editor is not ethical. Letters to the editor are used to voice concerns on different issues.  A breaking story about something that occurred is not a piece of information that should be told through a letter to the editor.  This goes back to the emotion and passion issue.  People who are writing letters to the editor are typically upset about an issue; therefore, they are writing letters that are influenced by emotions.

The ethical principle that I believe applies to this is, Kant’s Categorical Imperative.  I chose this principle because by not using multiple sources, part of the truth is being hidden.  Hiding part of the truth is deceptive and that is one of the things that Kant says is always wrong.

Kant’s says that we need to act the way toward others that you would want them to act toward you. That being said, we would want people to objectively report a story to us so we know both sides.

Ultimately, using social media, just one source and reporting story in a letter to the editor are not things that are in my opinion ethical means of breaking a story.  We need to be fair and neutral in our reporting.  Using as many sources as possible will allow that to be achieved.


This website was used for extra information on Kant’s Categorical Imperative:


Facebook Prematurely Ending Relationships

After reading this article I think that it is not ethical for Facebook to post signs that someone’s relationship is about to end. It is also unethical for Facebook to allow this information to be used by companies to target their advertising.  Companies often use Facebook activity to determine what they advertise and where. But what Facebook is doing, in my opinion, is something on a completely different level.

As a person who is in a relationship where my boyfriend and I posted pictures together when we first started dating, then stopped because we decided our relationship wasn’t anyone else’s business. I don’t think it is right for Facebook to post signals that relationships are ending. Facebook could easily believe that my relationship is about to end based off the lack of posting. Just because a relationship isn’t broadcasted on social media frequently doesn’t mean it is ending.  Some people like the idea of posting about their relationship, and some like the idea of privacy so they don’t post about it.  Just because people are private about their relationship doesn’t it’s on a path to ending soon.

This article found that those who have gone through a breakup are 40% more likely to accept event invitations about 60 days post break up.  Facebook is also using key words like, “detoxing,” “binge-watching,””drowning sorrows,” and “healing” to determine that people have just ended a relationship.  People who are happily in a relationship often use these words in every day life, they don’t necessarily signal heart break.

In my opinion, Facebook is doing something different than what other companies are doing.  They are snooping for key words and then once they suspect a break up they are informing another company and allowing them to place advertisements.  This is different because companies usually notice what you are searching then advertise based off those searches.  They don’t share the information.

What Facebook is doing violates numerous ethical principles.  The two I feel it violates the most are; rights and common good.  I believe it violates rights because it is violating people’s right to privacy.  When someone enables privacy settings on Facebook that is them saying they would like a certain amount of privacy on their page. Even though they are subjecting themselves to their information being broadcasted when they post it online, people do have the right to privacy.  Common good is another principle I believe Facebook’s actions violate. The Utilitarian principle wants to bring the most good for the greatest number.  Discretely alerting someone that their relationship is about to end doesn’t bring about the common good for anyone.  People are happy when they are in a relationship and alerting them of its ending doesn’t bring happiness.

Another issue I see with Facebook doing this is it could cause a relationship to end that wasn’t going to.  Posting things about the “single life” can subconsciously influence people, resulting in a break up.  Doing this also violates Utilitarianism because it isn’t bringing good or happiness to anyone.

Even though Facebook might think what it is doing is helpful, I believe that it is extremely unethical.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has come up with a new immigration plan.  Last Friday, he signed the executive order that suspended refugees from certain countries from relocation and entry into the United States. This executive order suspended refugee resettlement into the U.S. for four months and suspended Syrian refugees indefinitely. A three-month suspension was put on any citizen from seven mostly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

So, why did he do this? President Trump states that action was needed to protect the nation from the potential for terrorists that could sneak into the U.S.  Many people are outraged by Trump’s actions, but I believe it is important to look at and understand both sides of the issue.

We can morally justify this action using the Potter Box.  First, the definition of the issue: President Trump is working to protect the country he now leads from potential terrorist attacks.

Next, what do Trump’s actions show about his values?  His actions show that he truly values the safety and human interest of his country.  He will do whatever he can to keep his people safe. He is using prior knowledge of terrorist attacks when he makes the decision in regards to safety.

After reading several articles I decided that for the principles portion of the Potter Box President Trump is using Mill’s Principle of Utility.  The main idea for this is that you must consider what action will bring the best results for the welfare of the people.  It also states that the good end must be promoted and the bad end must be restrained.  Trump is doing just this.  The good end, preventing terrorism, must be promoted in his mind.  The bad end, a terrorist attack, must be restrained (or kept out of the country).

The fourth part of the Potter Box is loyalties.  There is no question where Trump’s loyalties lie. His loyalties lie with the people of the country he now leads.

On the opposite side, this action is not morally justified.

The opposing view most likely defines what President Trump is doing differently.  The definition might be: President Trump is now building a wall and not allowing the refugees in who are trying to flee to a safer country than their own.

In this instance, Trump’s actions don’t really show that he values much more than self-interest. He doesn’t care what the motive is, anyone from the above list of countries cannot come into the U.S.

In my opinion, the principle President Trump is not following is Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance.  This states that fairness equals justice and that who you are and what you have shouldn’t determine the things you get in life.  He is paying close attention to who these people are and where they are from and using that in his decision-making, which is not fair at all.

Again, President Trump’s loyalties lie with his people and he is working to protect them.  However, there are much better ways of going about protecting them.

After writing about both sides of the issue I find myself leaning toward agreeing with Trump.  Here is why: He is the President of the United States now.  He is responsible for the safety and progress of this country for the next four years.  Whenever there is a terrorist attack on the United States the President is always the one to blame.  People always say they hate that President because they didn’t do a good enough job protecting us.  Trump is trying to be proactive and prevent terrorist attacks as best as he can. He doesn’t want to be gifted the blame of an attack on the United States.  If he can do something to prevent any harm to this country, then he has every right to do it.

Journalists Remain Neutral

After reading the article about media participation in marches and protests I believe that the media should avoid the participation in protests and rallies.  They need to remain observant.

The article writes that NPR uses a case by case judgment on the nature of each event.  In doing this, they are deciding which events they think their journalists are okay to participate in.  I don’t necessarily believe this is a wise idea.  This decision is subjective and even if NPR thinks it is okay for their journalists to protest or march, it might not look good from a professional standpoint.

My first reason for journalists needing to remain observers only is that journalists are to keep a certain level of professionalism.  Journalists are to remain neutral in their reporting. They are to be objective.  If journalists start to participate in rallies, marches or protests they are in turn showing their bias to one particular side.

Participation and showing bias will then cause those who are reading their work to question if they are writing objectively.  They could be writing in favor of one particular side. Favoring one side in what is published or broadcasted takes away from the media’s credibility.  The viewers don’t know if what they are seeing is the whole unbiased truth.

My second reason is that participating in these protests is an act of emotion.  When people are emotional they don’t typically think as clearly as they normally would.

The article writes “Journalists are advised to ‘refrain from advocating for political or other polarizing issues online.’” This means that they are to refrain from expressing their political and personal views.

The first step of the Potter Box is definition. When I am talking about protests, I am defining them as any event that is in opposition to a current political action, or social topic.  Whether it be protesting something the Supreme Court recently passed or the Women’s March that recently happened.

The next step is values.  I looked at the NPR’s code of ethics and the one value they emphasized the most was impartiality.  That being said, the media needs to remain neutral when they are reporting. If they are involved in the protests they are reporting on, then they are not maintaining the level of neutrality they need.

The third step in the Potter Box is principles. One principle I decided to use to justify my reasoning is Aristotle’s Mean.  It states that “moral virtue is a middle state determined by practical wisdom.” The four cardinal virtues are; temperance, justice, courage and wisdom.  Aristotle emphasizes avoiding extremes in this principle. I chose to look at wisdom and justice when thinking about journalists not participating in protests.  The two extremes for wisdom are caution and spontaneity.  I interpreted caution as not even observing or reporting a story about a protest or march.  The opposite extreme, spontaneity, seemed to be the sudden decision to participate in the protests. The happy medium is wisdom.  This is using discernment and knowledge to know that being professional and neutral in reporting requires observance only.

Justice is the next virtue that I feel helps me justify my belief.  Indifference and indulgence are the two extremes for justice.  Indifference to me is not even caring about the event enough to observe it.  The opposite, indulgence, is over involvement in the event.  Participation and allowing emotions to control you will not allow you to report from a neutral voice.

Finally, step four of the Potter Box is loyalties.  The media’s loyalties lie with the viewers.  They trust the media to report neutral and unbiased work at all times.  Unbiased work is typically the most accurate work.  In order to remain loyal to these viewers the media and journalists must work to not participate and only observe, as to not destroy their credibility.

Source Reviews

Before I read this article I was torn on whether or not I thought journalist should allow sources to review their work.  Now that I have read this article, I think that journalists should show their work to their sources before published; however, they should have stipulations on what the source can change. The source shouldn’t be able to change the tone or the angle of the story, just the facts.

I think the stipulations should include:

  • Telling the source that only you and your editor can make official changes to the article.
  • Reviewing the article is for checking accuracy ONLY.
  • All quotes are set in stone, once they are said they cannot be changed.
  • Only let them review the pieces of the article that the journalist picks.

The benefit of letting sources review work is avoiding any false and misleading articles.  Journalists can lose their credibility if their articles are filled with false information.  An example of this is the Stolen Voice Mail case.  The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article with false allegations about Chiquita Brands International and it led to a serious of unfortunate events for the Enquirer.

If the article is about policies of a company, then having a source review it is ideal.  Journalists don’t want to misrepresent the company they are writing about.  Companies work hard to build their image and establish policies, the least journalists can do is make sure to accurately portray this information.

When the article is about a confusing topic making sure you understand the topic is important, you don’t want to misinterpret the topic and the information not be accurate.

The Potter Box can be used to defend this idea.


Journalists should let their sources read their work before they publish it.  This will be a way to avoid false and misleading statements.


The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists are to; seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, be accountable and transparent.  My values also include, honesty, accuracy and fairness.  Allowing sources to read their work provides a way for journalists to increase truth and accuracy in their writing.


Aristotle’s Mean emphasizes finding the middle state between two extremes.  In this case, the extremes are: completely disregarding the sources and letting the source completely change what has been written.  The middle state is allowing them to review the article with the previously stated stipulations.  Confucius’ Golden Mean can also be applied to this situation in the same way. Islam’s Divine Command emphasizes truth, justice and human dignity.  Allowing the sources to read the article guarantees truth and justice in the writing, as well as allowing them to maintain their dignity.


Journalists owe their loyalties to not only their readers, but also their sources.  Their sources go out on a limb to tell them the information they do and they owe it to them to report honestly and accurately.  If journalists twist words or write false statements they are ruining their credibility with these sources, along with their chances of further help from the sources.

Doctor’s Right to Help

The ethical dilemma I chose involves the decisions of medical professionals.  If they act in a way that they feel is best for the patient, but appears to be unethical, can it be ethical?

Doctors are known as the most trusted professionals.  Doctors are actually permitted to do harm to the patient if they feel it will do good for the patient. Some treatment of doctors might cause suffering to the patient, but the end result will help and bring good to them.  Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation bring harm to patients to help them get better.

One case this article points out is a doctor who was performing surgery on a woman for a certain issue.  He sees that pregnancy would be dangerous to her health and so would a second operation, so he ties her fallopian tubes.  While he did this without permission and lost the malpractice lawsuit that the woman filed, the doctor was acting in her best interest.  He acted in order to save her life.

Another issue that was brought up by JO Tan was medical treatment for women who have eating disorders.  Some women refuse to accept medical treatment for the disorders that doctors see as life threatening. These women ultimately know that what they are doing is harming them, but they have mixed feelings on whether or not they wanted to receive treatment. It is generally frowned upon for doctors to force treatment.  If your child was suffering from an eating disorder wouldn’t you want them to receive help, even if it is forced upon them?

Personally, if I was in surgery and a doctor saw something that was potentially life threatening I would want them to act in any way they could to help me.  I would be thankful that they were so observant and acted so selflessly to help.

I used the Potter Box to justify these doctors acting to save a person’s life…even if they don’t have permission.

DEFINITION: These doctors find or know that there is a certain treatment or action that can and will save the life of an individual, but they don’t have permission to act.   Acting on this knowledge could cause them to lose their license or lead to a lawsuit.  But not acting could result in the death of a patient.

VALUES: I found a doctor’s code of ethics online and it listed the values; compassion, service, altruism and trustworthiness.  The one that stuck out most to me was altruism. in the medical field altruism is seen as acting selflessly and with regard to the patient.  If a doctor sees an issue that they feel they can prevent.  I used altruism to defend the doctors when they act in these situations.  When we agree to have surgery or undergo treatment we are exercising putting our full trust in the doctors and their abilities.  We have to trust that they have our best interest at heart and they only do what they do to help.

PRINCIPLES: There are multiple ethical principles that can be applied here.  First, Judeo-Christian Persons as Ends.  In this principle we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Treat others how we would want to be treated.  We are also to love other because we are all created in the image of God.  That being said, these doctors are truly treating their patients like they would want to be treated.  They would want someone to act in a way that would save their lives. That is showing the love that God has for us to others.

The second ethical principle that can apply is Mill’s Principle of Utility.  This principle states that your actions should bring the greatest good for the greatest number.  If a doctor can do something that will save the largest number of people possible, they will do it.  Doctors cannot justify saving lives for the life of another, but things like flu shots will bring the greatest good (preventing the flu) to the greatest number of people.

The third principle is Kant’s Categorical Imperative.  This principle ultimately states that we are morally obligated to do certain things.  Doctors are morally obligated to do what they can to save lives.  While doing something without permission is risky, for doctors it is ultimately worth it to save someone’s life. Some might argue that acting without permission is deception, but the doctors didn’t go into their work planning on acting without permission.  They went into it with the mentality of saving or helping a life and doing whatever is necessary.

LOYALTIES: A doctor’s loyalty lies with the patients.  They are being trusted with their patients’ lives. Patients expect to be treated and helped in order to stay healthy.  No doctor wants to say that their patient lost their life because they didn’t do everything they could to help.  When you are trusted with someone’s life you are not going to do anything to harm that person.

SOLUTION: My solution to the problem is to sign a waiver saying that if a doctor finds something wrong other than the initial issue, they have the right to fix it if they believe it will save a life.

Importance of Ethical Reasoning

Ethical reasoning is extremely important for mass communication professionals.  These professionals have the ability to influence large numbers of people with the choices they make and if what they are doing isn’t ethical then they are going to negatively impact a large number of people.

In the introduction chapter we learned about several different professional values.  They include; proximity, firstness, impact/magnitude, recency, conflict, human interest, entertainment, novelty, toughness, thoroughness, immediacy, independence, no prior restraint, public’s right to know and watch dog.

These examples can be applied to the 2011 Norway Attack case. Values for journalists, mass media and reporters include; proximity, immediacy and humanness in handling the images of the dead, to name a few.  Specifically, humanness in handling the images of the dead is important for the mass communication professionals.

They need to use ethical decision making to decide if it is really worth it and if it is okay to publish images of people who died in the attack. The media who might decide to publish these pictures might end up being the first ones to tell a family their loved one has been killed.  Out of respect, the mass media owe it to families to allow them to be informed before anything is published.

Another reason ethical reasoning is important is when advertisers runs ads.  They need to ask themselves if their ads are going to be highly controversial.  If they are going to be, should they publish it? They need to consider if the ad is going to cause more harm than good.

There are five categories of obligation; duty to ourselves, clients/subscribers/supporters, organization/firm, professional colleagues and society.  Mass communication professionals owe it to all five of these groups to make ethical decisions when they publish anything.  What they do will affect anyone they work with or near.  Making unethical decisions can also ruin the professionals reputation and credibility.

In my opinion, the most important reason for ethical reasoning is that in whatever these mass communication professionals do they have the power to impact a large number.  Following Mill’s Principle of Utility, professionals should want to bring the greatest good to the greatest number.  One of the only ways to do this is to go through the ethical reasoning process to make sure what they are doing is ethical.

Any person who is a professional has to use ethical reasoning in their actions.  However, mass communication professionals’ work is seen by a wide audience.  In my opinion, the bigger the audience, the more important it is to use ethical reasoning because you don’t know who will see your work.