Mixed Media: Moral Distinctions in Advertising, Public Relations, and Journalism

By Thomas H. Bivins | Go to book overview

APPENDIX:
Media Codes of Ethics

Professional codes of ethics are generally guidelines for those working in a particular occupation considered by its members or by others to be a profession. Remember from chapters 1 and 3 that there are often differences among professional ethics and personal or societal ethics, and these differences need to be not only recognized but also understood. No one can perform a job without an understanding of how that job affects others. We also need to understand how others will view us if we seem to violate the codes of our society, codes by which everyone else lives.

It is, therefore, important for us to explore exactly what the various professional codes say and to try to understand why they say it. Keep in mind, while you read through these codes, the various purposes codes can be put to. Also remember that codes can often be self-serving. Try to recognize those instances in which they are, and ask yourself why you think this is so. If it is not for the good of all of society, then your action is usually for the good of only a few and that may or may not be sufficient rationale for ethical decision making.

Following are a number of codes developed for various media industries or specific portions of those industries. Note the differences. Like all professional codes, these reflect the intricacies of the professions they represent and should respond to the specific ethical needs of those professions.

Keep in mind, also, that for every industry-wide code there will be dozens, maybe hundreds, of individual codes that are drafted by individual advertising agencies, PR firms, and news-gathering operations around the country. They will sometimes differ from industry-wide codes, but more of

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