Today, everyone is so confused about ethics because of the commercial interests. Ethics can be best understood as the interplay between ethical values and interests. The lack of consideration of interests has similarly confused our understanding of ethics. The concern with ethics has been couched not in these terms but in terms of the contradiction between the democratic function in media and their control by commercial interests.
This discussion started with Martin Moore’s blog about the debate sponsored by PR Week that ‘PR has a duty to tell the truth‘, over 260 public relations executives voted against the motion to only 124 voting for. The discussion about lying and ethics was picked by many blogs like up by Strumpette , BuzzMachine, India PR, Hill & Knowlton and StriveNotes.
In justification among things was that the journalists are to be blamed. I agree a bit to what the PR Week panel’s justification mentioned in Martin Moore’s Blog
This leads me to a lecture I attended yesterday, by Tony Harcup, Author of the book “The Ethical Journalist” who was talking about his book. It was nice to hear him say things like, What is happening to the News today? This is not journalism. Journalists these days have become “Churnalist,” They just Churn news.
I spoke to him about Journalist cases where they run sting operations(catch people on hidden camera’s and expose it to Indian publics) whether it is ethical or not? He quite clearly agreed with me and stated that if it is for the greater good of society to know, then yes, of course, but if it is for creating some Gossip news or doesn’t concern the society, then of course, not.
I think we in India have seen this distinction in the past, where the bribing of the defence ministry was shown to the public, but the face of the film actress prostitute was not shown (as it would have ruined her career).
As long as we take the ethical values and interests interplay into consideration, I think everyone would understand the Ethical issues more clearly.
And clearly if someone asks me the question “Are PR people supposed to Lie? or Do you Lie?” I would answer, “If you asking me that I am ethical? … Yes, I am an ethical practitioner, and PR practitioners are ethical.” And leave it there.