Ethics means distinguishing what is right and what is wrong when dealing with moral conflict. In today’s world people have so much information coming from multiple sources that it is impossible to escape from it. Information is available to everyone, for those who want it and also for those who do not want it. This information can be right for some people and offensive for others. Journalists have the freedom to publish any news or advertisement they like or they feel right to publish because they have a freedom of press. Although, many publishers do tend to publish a story in a very biased or non transparent way. There should a code of conduct which should be followed when is comes to publishing new articles or advertisement. Some of the things publishers should consider is if they are being transparent on the information they are providing, is the information being biased towards certain group of people or if the information is relative to the readers or not. The code of ethics is not enforced by law, but it is a form of self regulation and should be adopted by the journalists themselves. Journalists should construct their own ethical principles. There are many cases which shows that ethics and journalism go hand in hand. Ethics help us to focus on morally relevant concerns and provide justifiable decision or solution.
Taking the class of Media Law and Ethics have opened up my eyes in multiple ways and also makes me wonder on my personal code of ethics that I believe in. One of the field that I am interested in is the field of advertisement. Advertisement is on all the platform an individual can reach out to. The field of advisement can really have an ethical dilemma that may put one in a situation of choosing what is right or wrong. To encounter these situations one need to apply their own personal code of ethics. In many situations we have seen that some advertisements can really be misleading. Many of the companies run these misleading advertisement to run their business, either to gather more customer or supporting their business model. However, some companies do not realize that these misleading information or wrong facts does cost them millions of dollars either in fines or by losing its customers and also affect their company reputation. One article that I came across is written by Julien Rath, and the article is named 18 false advertising scandals that lost some brand millions. In this article, Rath talks about companies like Uber, Activia yogurt, fanduel and many more. After doing the research and self realization, I realized that some important component of my personal code of ethics are being truthful and transparent.
One of my first component is being truthful, after taking the class of media law and ethics, and from my professional experience working in sales and marketing I have realized that it is important first to make sure the information that is being put out there is true. Many companies run fake news, or fake advertisement just to attract customers towards their company or their products. One of the example was Uber, to support its business model they needed more and more drivers, and to attract more Uber drivers they created misleading advertisement on how much Uber drivers can make. This attracted many drivers to join Uber. However, after that many Uber drivers realized that it was not true and started leaving Uber company. To reach the roots of this, FTC did investigate the company to the bottom truth line, and it cost the company $20 millions in fines. This did not only make the company lose a lot of money, but also hurt their reputation in the market. That is why it is really important for the company to be truthful on the information that they are giving out.
Another component in my code of ethics is being transparent. Transparency and being truthful are similar in a way, but transparency can also have much more meaning in depth such as stating out all the facts, and not manipulating the facts in a way in which customers are attracted to. Many companies tend to not being transparent enough, and one of the major example is the disclaimer on their advertisements. Companies usually write or publish an advertisement which is attractive but has disclaimers at the very bottom and usually in very small prints. According to me, that is not being transparent because essentially it is just showing the customers what looks attractive or good but not what the requirements are. One of the examples are cell phone providing companies such as AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile or Sprint. These companies run advertisement showing customers the attractive deals such as, cut your bill in half with sprint, get 3 lines for $120 with roll over plans, and many more. However, they do not mention things such as cutting your bill in half only covers your monthly charges on the services, or getting 3 lines for $120 does not cover the phones that you have to buy. In fact, Sprint’s CFO Joe Enteneur accepted that Sprint’s cut your bill in half plan will probably get a 20% net savings. This according to me is wrong because these companies are not being transparent by hiding some of the requirements or facts.
These are some of the components that I realized should be the part of my personal code of ethics, and I was only able to build my personal ethics through the information that was provided in the media law and ethics class, and my personal experience.
Rath, Julien. 18 False Advertising Scandals That Cost Some Brands Millions. Business Insider, Business Insider, 27 Feb. 2017, www.businessinsider.com/false-advertising-scandals-2017-2.
Yelizarov, Kirlash. Mel’nikova, Kulish. Ethics in Advertising. Kryvyi Rih National University.
What mobile carriers are really saying in their ads Truthinadvertising.org. https://www.truthinadvertising.org/mobile-carriers-really-saying-ads/