Friday, June 18, 2010

What's the harm?

Should I or shouldn’t I? That seems to be a constant question weighing on the minds of journalism teachers everywhere. Ethical decision-making is not easy, which was reinforced by my group’s failure to reach a consensus during our ethics discussion activity. We had to determine if it was ethical for our newspaper to accept tickets to a sold-out sporting event, which seems like such an easy question. What’s the harm in accepting a few free tickets to an event? I know my students LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the free stuff that comes our way each month in the mail.

We had to decide: where do you draw the line? Even after evaluating SPJ’s Code of Ethics, our conundrum fell right into that uncomfortable and confusing grey area. My group mates and I basically came down to the conclusion that sports coverage is the most difficult section of the media to maintain strict ethical guidelines. How are you going to cover an event if you don’t have access? Even after our discussion, we weren’t exactly sure where to stand on the issue. Successful discussion, no solution.

The real dilemma, I realized, is where do we draw the line for students in our own class? Or perhaps not where WE as teachers draw the line, but how do we show students that there is even a line and get them to draw their own judgments based on the line of right and wrong? Even just thinking through the situation, discussing with my group and listening to how other groups handled their various ethical dilemmas helped me begin to establish a framework for ethical decision making in my classroom. My students probably won't be happy about refusing all of the sweet loot we get.

Jessica Kahlfeldt

Turner High School

Kansas City, Kan.

1 comment:

  1. Great illustration. I could have used that Friday night!