Ethics are very gray. The word means different things to different people. Ethics is not the law and there’s no magical right answer when faced with a decision on what to do or not do in a situation.
Case in point, when I was thinking about what I would do in regards to the case study discussed in our lecture, I had a gut reaction but started doubting myself. If I was a journalist having to report on a murder case, would I try become friends on Facebook with the alleged murderer’s friend? My initial reaction is yes. I would ask to be the person’s friend without making it known I was a journalist. My gut reaction stemmed from the desire to get noticed, make my boss happy, and/or receive a promotion or a new job. My duty at first lied with what was best for myself and my career.
As the lecture went on and other scenarios were pointed out, I started to question myself. As it was pointed out that it could be bad for my name, my paper or industry, I was more hesitant than I initially was. But my reaction was always self-centered relating to the egoism theory. My decision was based on how it would affect me and not the victim receiving the friend request on Facebook.
My stance on the person getting the the friend request is that person has to look out for themselves. They have the power to accept or deny me as a friend. They should do their due diligence and investigate prior to accepting.
Do I feel unethical taking that stance? Yes a little. But I also feel that as a journalist it is part of the job to investigate the story.
I think it is extremely helpful to break ethical decision making down into three steps. We each will have a gut reaction but that isn’t always the best decision. Thinking things through and using a process will help us come up with the best solution for ourselves. Again the decision might not resonate well with everyone but we have to decide where our duties lie.