Some students of mine are doing a thesis that examines how journalism ethics is being taught in other schools around Luzon. It bothers me that in most cases the subject is taught much like an after thought and not given real importance. Also, the findings show that ethics is often reduced to a set of do’s and don’ts or limited to the Code of Ethics.
What many do not realize is that the Code of Ethics is just one criterion of being truly ethical. In fact, most of the time it is inadequate because it makes a lot of fuss about the small stuff and misses out on the bigger ethical issues. For me, there are five points in determining if an action is ethical or not:
1. An act is said to be good or bad if it is deemed a crime or fault in the laws of the country;
2. An act is good or bad depending on what the majority believes (e.g. Code of Ethics);
3. The goodness or the badness of an act is determined by one’s conscience;
4. Human nature determines the morality of an act;
5. An act is said to be good or bad according to what God has pointed out in revealing Himself (10 commandments, the Koran..)
These points are not mutually exclusive nor are they the only criteria, but its safe to say that if it passes this five-point test then one is on the right track. Now, if my students in Journ 110 explained these, they are likely to pass the final exam. 😉