Ethical Decisions

While deliberating on different problem-solving algorithms of ethical dilemmas, it is possible refer to different formulas and schemes proposed by Johnson. Specifically, there is Kidder’s ethical formula, SAD formula, and Nash’s twelve questions.

Although the structures of the proposed ethical solving scheme differ, there are tangible similarities among them. First, each algorithm has the problem determination point, which is differently described. Hence, Kidder’s ethical formula focuses on the problem identification as the primary task of the conflict resolution. In SAS formula, the attention has been given to the situational definition, which could be regarded as the problem identification. Finally, Nash’s first question focuses on a two-fold problem solving. Second, all the approaches involve the analysis of the situation and facts, paying attention to such concepts as accuracy, adequacy, and objectivity. The presence of actors is mentioned in Kidde’s ethical formula and Nash’s twelve questions, but SAD formula ignores this issue. Third, all the schemes include decision-making models that focus on different approaches, including the alternative ones, which would minimize the conflict and find the most appropriate solution.

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With regard to the above-presented commonality, it should be stressed that the common ethical model of problem solving should include four major components – problem identification, fact description, actor analysis, and decision making. All these elements shape the situation in which conflicts might occur. They can also foster the search for solutions and the most appropriate measures taken during the conflict. The process of the problem identification is not as easy as it might seem at a glance and, therefore, it is recognized in all three models proposed. Therefore, this step defines the success of the subsequent steps. When it comes to the fact description, it should relate to the problem, as well as to the background information about the actors. Finally, the decision making should be premised on values, accepted stereotypes, and principles, which should be the guiding ones irrespective of the context. Indeed, universality of the model should allow the participants to solve an ethical dilemma in the most effective way. In addition, it should be stressed that all the models introduce the analysis of individual background that marks the difference in value. In other words, different parties of the ethical conflict can have different views on ethical dilemmas. Therefore, the problem solving should be carried out as objectively as possible in case the problem is solved without interruption of the third party. The latter, however, is indispensable because it can allow the conflicting parties reach the most reasonable resolution of the problem.

Media Coverage: Flight 800 Tragedy

The case study under analysis reveals the way media cover news on the plane crash. It focuses on the people who died in the crash, portraying the grief of the families, as well as retelling background information about the injured people. However, the story that is composed of four moments interpreting the events differently reveals the ethical dilemma which makes the audience accuse the media of the fact distortion. It is a commonly accepted fact that media often focus on distorted images, stories, and exaggerated facts to make the impression on the audience and turn people’s grief and suffering into spectacle for the rest of the audience. In respect of this situation, the concept ‘pornography of grief’ is exactly the definition for the approaches chosen by media to render the tragedy. Following the formulas for analyzing ethical dilemmas, there are many situations, facts, and actors that can be accused of inappropriate exposition of events.

First of all, it should be stressed that the major problem of the case lies in the fact that media is never interested in delivering facts as they are. Objectivity is not the means by which they render the picture of events. Their purpose is to make sensation and make the audience be shocked and sympathizing. Therefore, the problem of this particular case is the lack of objectivity, accuracy, and tact. Media professionals failed to render the fact in a more adequate way. They interviewed the members of the family to make the video and create the news which could be consumed by the viewers. They were ignorant of their feelings and true facts. Placing wrong emphases and showing negligence against victim’s privacy, they often go beyond accepted ethics in the pursuit of bright and impressive news. Hence, media also take advantage of the emotional and psychological state of the witnesses and victim’s families to develop an incredible story.

Second, the story proves that journalists are reluctant to adhere to fact as they are. They need the fact that could make an interesting story. As the case shows, some of the background information described in the story fails to reveal true facts about the victims, for example the author’s niece who died in the crash. The families were under the pressure of media that demanded to provide those photos and home videos within an hour so that they could make the story in the shortest time possible, which created ethical concern.

Third, when it comes to the actor’s analysis, it should be stressed that media is the powerful tool, which makes people believe in the information delivered via TV channels and the Internet. People want to contemplate suffering and tragedy; they are not interested in the victims’ background or their families. This is the main disease of the contemporary community that is not able to sympathize with the victims. This generates ethical impulse for moral actions and for people to become more aware of the genuine purpose of perpetuating the memory about the victims of the crash.

Finally, the decision making includes the measures taken by those who realize the ethical problem and who have considered all the facts. The possibility to analyze the ethical conflict should also reconsider the case from the moral perspective. In this particular situation, the very necessity to recognize and identify the problem is the primary concern. Therefore, this stage should be decisive because it influences other decisions. Additionally, it should be stressed that defining the situation and analyzing the current values and morale should also be the privilege of ethical decision making. Finally, the ethical decision itself should become the major solution in the case under analysis. The choice of the decision can become a good experience for other related cases.

When it concerns the case of the crash and its distorted representation by the media, the emphasis should be placed on the way other people react to the exposition of the fact. If media fails to receive consent from the part of the victim’s family members, it could be considered as the violation of human rights and legal norms. Ethicality of the problem identification also refers to the process of the collection of all the materials. Journalists should have been more attentive and delicate while communicating with the families, and while taking materials and information from them. Finally, before releasing the video, the media actors should present the video to the victims’ relatives to make sure that the information is valid and adequate. In such a way, it would be possible to eliminate the ethical conflict. The moral dimension of the decision making process is the key to successful resolution, but mass media fail to take this fact into consideration.

Steps Taken for Improving Ethical Choices

Based on the material presented in the book, including the case study, it should be stressed that the problem of managing the information is closely connected with the choice of ethical decisions. The codes of ethics should be obeyed irrespective of the sphere of social activities. The failure to follow ethical decision making is closely associated with the legal consequences. More importantly, ethical choices in the sphere of mass media are difficult and create challenges for both parties concerned. In order to improve the ethical choices, the attention should be given to the analysis of the situation, as well as to the choice of effective ethical decision-making model.

While employing the decision-making model, the final decision should depend largely on the transparency and objectivity of the previous assessment. In this regard, the task of every individual is to make everything possible to change the situation and regain the trust of the public. Further, the problem identification is also the driving force leading to the problem solution. For example, the first step to the problem solving was to receive consent of the victims’ families for the materials and home videos.

Judging from the perspective of this model, it is possible to improve the transparency of the conflict consideration, as well as define the genuine problem to minimize further consequences. Additionally, the analysis of the formulas demonstrates the strict scheme by means of which the ethical choices could be narrowed down to achieve the maximum positive effect and resolve the ethical dilemma. All of the plans could be helpful in defining the actors, the problem, and the fact, which are foundational in ethical decision making. Adherence to universal moral codes can alleviate the problem in the most efficient way.