Blog

One Year Down

One year ago today I was sitting at dinner in St. Thomas with my parents and college roommate when we got a phone call. Next thing I knew I received a text…a text that turned my world upside down. After reading that text I had to tell my mom that her best friend was gone. That is something I prayed I never had to do. The next two weeks were a blur that I still don’t fully remember. What I do know is people came together to comfort my family and the Boobar and Bigham families like I had never seen before.

Flash forward one year…it is still hard to believe that Kathy Boobar and Karen Bigham are gone. However, it is comforting to know that while it has been a year since they left us…it has also been a year since they went home TOGETHER to see Jesus. It has been one year of sometimes just getting through the day. A year of of laughter and tears. A year of clinging to God to get us through. A year of triumphs and success. A year that I am very thankful for.

ON Year

To commemorate this year I wanted to make something special. I started working on this project a month ago and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted it to turn into…I just knew I wanted to make something special. I wanted to create something that would hopefully bring joy to the ones who are hurting so bad today. These pictures are from before and after Kathy and Karen went to be with Jesus. They are full of joy and love. These pictures are from Israel, prom, graduations, birthday parties, Christmas parties and family trips. As I worked on this project I couldn’t help but smile at all of the memories I was looking at. I wanted to create something for Carly and Tim and the Bigham family specifically that I felt like they would cherish. Something that was different than the normal “I am thinking of you.” A gesture that I feel like Kathy and Karen would love because I know they would be mad if I let myself be sad.

I think everyone who knew Kathy and Karen would agree that their lives were an inspiration. They lived every day to the fullest and because of that I plan on doing the same. Everyone make sure to hug your loved ones a little tighter today and tell them how much you love them because you never know when that might be the last time.

 

I love and miss you both forever and always,

Libby Collins

 

Advertisements

Reflection

As I looked back on this semester in Ethics and Issues in Mass Communication I realized how much I have learned and enjoyed this class.  It was a challenging class but that made it much more enjoyable.

Before taking this class I had no idea that there was a process that you could use to make ethical decisions.  I honestly thought that there was either a right decision or a wrong decision.  The Potter Box enlightened me on a whole new way to get a perspective on making ethical decisions.  It made me realize that there are multiple decisions that are “right” but there are things about those decisions that could cause harm.  It has also taught me that making ethical decisions is not black and white like I thought.

The first step in the Potter Box is to define the situation/case.  Then you move to the values section and define the values you see as important in the situation.  Third, you state what ethical principles apply to the case.  Finally, you state your loyalties that you have in regards to the case.

I think going through this process is important because it protects you from making rash and uneducated decisions that you could regret.  Going through this process allows you to take time to think through things and make the best decision possible.

In whatever profession I choose, whether it be copywriting, public relations or anything in those departments, I think it is important to go through this process.  Going through this process allows you to make the most ethical decision for you and those you are representing.  It can help you handle a crisis situation in the best way possible and help keep a good reputation.

I will for sure use this method and what I have learned in this class in my career and day to day life.  I think what I have learned is extremely important and that everyone should take a class that teaches them about this process.

I really enjoyed this class and I am glad that I took it!

United Airlines Bad PR

United Airlines’ recent actions have created a social media uproar.  In mid-April, a man was forcefully removed from a United Airlines by the police.  The flight was overbooked and no one would volunteer to give up their seat.  The airline had a lottery and a man was chosen to be removed from the flight.  This man refused to leave the plan and the police were called.  They proceeded to drag this man off of the flight against his will.

The ethical principles that apply to this are; Judeo Christian Persons as Ends, Kant’s Categorical Imperative and Islam’s Divine Command. I believe that Judeo Christian and Islam’s Divine Command conflict with parts of Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

According to Kan’t Categorical Imperative, United Airlines has a duty to their organization to make sure that the flights have the correct number of people on them.  When they removed the man from the flight they were acting in regards to that duty.  However, the way they acted was in violation of Islam’s Divine Command and the Judeo Christian Persons as Ends.

Islam’s Divine Command emphasizes respecting human dignity and forcefully dragging a man off of the flight was in no way respects his dignity. Judeo Christian Persons as Ends emphasizes treating others the way you would want to be treated and loving others like God loves you.  United Airlines did not treat this man with the respect he deserves and did not act in a way that shows the love God has for us.

I do believe that the idea of having people taken off the flight so everyone fit in the plane was right, I do not think that United Airlines’ actions were right or can be justified.  They acted in an unprofessional way.  I think they can improve on the way they treat people, making sure they do not overbook flights when people buy tickets and make sure they are respectful when asking people to get off the airplane.

This tweet from United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz is a perfect example of what other companies can take from this situation. Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.05.08 AM

Other companies should read this and learn that they do not want to take any actions that would require an apology for being unprofessional.  They should strive to maintain the highest degree of professionalism.  Coming from a public relations standpoint, companies need to think about how their actions come across to customers and how one lapse of judgment can destroy their reputation, sometimes (like United Airlines) actions can destroy reputation to the point that it will be next to impossible to repair their image.

It is important for companies to maintain good relationships with the media and their clients.  The way United Airlines acted shows other companies how to not act if they want to maintain that good relationship.  PR professionals can only do so much for their companies and it is up to the company itself to not make the PR professionals’ job impossible to do.

Security Breach

If I was on staff at Data-Time Inc. and one of my employee’s company issued laptops was stolen I would have to take my following action into serious consideration to make sure I act professionally and ethically.  I would come up with a few options of things I could do then make a pros and cons list for each to decipher which is my best option.  Some of my options will clearly not be the one to choose, but in order to fairly choose my decision I feel that all options need to be stated.

My first option would be to blatantly ignore what happened and continue business as normal.  This would not be a top choice because it is not professional to ignore a theft that could potentially ruin these people’s lives even more.

My second option would be to work hard to contact those whose personal information is on the laptops.  I would let them know that there has been a security issue and their personal information could potentially be used against them.  I would make it seem like a panicked situation and make sure they are terrified.  This would not work because striking fear in people is not the professional means to handle a situation.  The people whose identities are potentially about to be stolen are most likely to be panicked so there is no reason to strike more panic and fear in them.

My third option and the one I choose would be to question all my employees. I would especially question the one whose laptop was stolen to make sure it was truly stolen by someone outside of my company and not taken by the employee for personal gain.  After establishing that it was stolen by someone outside of the company I would use a laptop that was not stolen to find out as much information as I can to contact the homeless people whose information is on the laptops.  Because of how much personal information is on the laptops there has to be a way to get in touch with the individuals.  Then I would find these individuals and warn them about what has happened.

After doing this I would work on changing my system to a password based system that you have to log into to access the information.  I think that giving laptops to your employees that automatically has the information about people on it is too high risk of an incident like the one in this case.  Having a means to keep it even more private will protect people more.

Like I said, I would recommend a change in the system.  Possibly a new password based system where the password would change weekly to keep it more protected.  Something that would make a stolen laptop not as big of a deal.

I would also recommend sending out a formal and sincere apology somehow to these people.  Since they are homeless maybe having a casual dinner reception to tell them what has happened and explain how you plan to fix the issue.

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: http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/MEDICAL_ETHICS_TEXT/Chapter_2_Ethical_Traditions/Categorical_Imperative.htm

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.

DEFINITION:

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

VALUES:

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.

PRINCIPLES:

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.

LOYALTIES:

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.