The connections between press, politics, and communications sometimes may appear as a three-legged stool. But the ethical seat you sit on depends on what role you play and how you handle the information you provide.
Consider a relatively recent example: Former Phoenix Fox 10 news anchor Kari Lake is now the GOP nominee for governor of Arizona. She went from delivering news as a TV anchor to badmouthing news people as a candidate.
Other transplants from journalism left behind their traditional journalistic independence to serve the public by: running for office, working in public relations, providing advertising, or communicating in other ways.
Different fields often come with their own codes of ethics, which can be complicated and confusing.
How might a journalist’s ethical concerns and rules change if they leave a newsroom and work for the public interest in another way?
Here are some questions to ponder:
- What do you see as your current ethical responsibilities as a journalist?
- What ethical constraints do you face?
- How would that change depending on the new field you enter, such as PR, advertising, or communications?
- What ethics would you be leaving behind? What ethical guidance would you be seeking?
- What deep reflection have you engaged in regarding your journalistic ethics and how might those reflections differ in your new environment?
- How do you anticipate explaining such a transition ethically?
- How would the mantra “minimize harm” change?
Aly Colón is the Knight Professor of Media Ethics in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University.