Ethic Case Project
Case name: Seeking the truth Prepared by: Maha Jasim 200816089
Section 1: Introduction In this case, it was mostly about journalism ethics. For Helmbreck who is a journalist, she should know from the SPJ ethic code that journalist should minimize harm. By publishing the whole story, it may cause problems. By the problem I mean, when she write the article and the golf ladies players read it, they will be offended. Then they will not join the event again. That will lead to people will not come because their will be no players. When will be no one there, the whole event will be canceled. And as a small town that seeks anything to rise in the news, it will lose everything. All that will happens if the article publishes. However, if she wanted the news to be published, she should record to proof her news. Because the news that she want to publish is catchy and everyone will want to read it. And for Wright he will deny saying the comments for his reputation, especially if he knew that she did not record for evidence. Another ethical problem was Wright reaction and statement about the comments. He did not say the truth and deny the comments. As a sport journalist, he totally ignores the SPJ code of ethics. Moreover, the acting of other newspaper, radio and television station consider unethical because they were not accurate and did not deliver the truth. However, Ben Wright was the most unethical person between all of these ethical dilemmas.
Section 2: Facts of the case This case happened in Wilmington May 1995. An important sport event was held “the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour”. It was one of the popular spring events that people like to gather and meet other people. The case began when Valerie Helmbreck, who is a reporter in the News Journal newspaper, went to cover the event as feature news. Helmbreck interviewed Ben Wright, who is the CBS golf commentator. In the interview Wright start making a bad comment on the ladies who play golf. The main issue began when
the newspaper and CBS officials started investigating about the validity of these comments. The interviewer Ben Wright denies saying these comments and accused Helmbreck as liar. Then both Wright and CBS issued a denial against Helmbreck. Then the News Journal newspaper asked Helmbreck to not respond to questions from other reporters. This action started causing problems in Helmbreck social life. Other newspapers start accusing her for being homosexual. Which make no sense, because it has nothing to do with the original news story.
Section 3: How the case was resolved After 8 months of accusing Helmbreck as a liar and rumoring about her life, the truth came. In December 1995, Sports Illustrated magazine published an article saying that Wright has changed his story. They provide a witness, who is a tour caddie that heard the conversation. Wright told his friend that he did said the comments, but he thought it would npt be published. After that the CBS official fired Ben Wright for his unethical behavior.
Section 4: A credible alternative outcome The News Journal newspaper should trust her reporter and should have done the right decision. If the newspaper only published the article without the comments it would not fall in all this issue. Also, they could investigate more about Ben Wright background maybe he had an old accident of lying or changing stories. Then they will be able to prove that their reporter Valerie Helmbreck was accurate. In addition, Valerie Helmbreck could sue both Ben Wright and the other newspapers and media that published bad things about her life, which is totally not true. The other newspapers, radio and television stations should be punished for publishing wrong and inaccurate news about Helmbreck life. Furthermore, it is unethical to publish Â
something that can cause harm to the person epically if it was not true. Moreover, even if she is a lesbian, it has nothing to do with the sport news or the comments that Wright states. Like who care about that, the news must stay about seeking the truth of that comments. Another alternative outcome could be that Wright can apologize to Helmbreck and said that he was just joking and did not mean what he said. Also, the other newspapers and media could apologize to Helmbreck and write it in their front pages or broadcast it.
Section 5: Your assessment of the outcome If I map both Helmbreck and Wright in the three dimensions, this is what I will get. For Valerie Helmbreck, she is a means person. For her means justify what every happen in the end. She is a journalist. Helmbreck was just doing her job. Her duty is to deliver news and saying the truth, no matter what will happen. Also, she is an Altruism person. She did not care about herself. Helmbreck cared about the public interest to know the news. Additionally, Helmbreck is objective person. She was doing what any journalist or reporter will do based on SPJ codes. However, for Ben Wright he is an end person. He doing care about his action or behavior as long it will make him reach what he wants. He is willing to do anything for his reputation. Moreover, Wright is an egocentric person. He only cares about his reputation, although of his true personality. In addition, Wright is a subjective person. He just does what he think is right. I think if the reporter Valerie Helmbreck used a recorder when she did the interview or did not add the comments in the article. Not of these was going to happen. As a journalist that follows the SPJ code of ethic she should be aware of that. Especially if she going to put a statement that for sure she will have issue with, she should have a proof. And for Ben Wright, if he did not say the bad comment in the interview, he will be fine. Wright was in an
interview and knew that he is being interviewed, he should watch for what he says. Also, as a professional he should not lie and act ethically in that situation. Besides that, the other newspapers, radio and television stations should be more professional and act in ethical way. How they publish something that they only hear and have to prove on it. They should be more carful especially when they publishing something that can harm someone reputation. For the ethical response based on the philosophers we have studied is the following. Valerie Helmbreck is deontology person. As a journalist, she was just doing her job and duty. Which is delivering news to the public. She believes that the means justify the end. In another words, she do whatever is the thing because it is her duty, no matter what the result will be. On the other hand, we have Ben Wright, who is a teleology person. For him the end justify the means. In another words, reaching his goal is essential no matter what he has to do. He does not care about the way he use, as long it make him be what he wants.
References: Society of Professional Journalists. (1996). Society of Professional Journalists: SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp