Ethics: Walking the Fine Line

In my multimedia journalism class on Monday, we discussed the ethics of journalism. Ethics in journalism can be very hard to define and very hard to practice depending on the story and the situation. When it comes down to it…I have to ask myself, as do many other journalists, “would you publish this? Would you deal with the consequences of social media? Would you deal with the possibility of getting fired?” Many questions come to mind.

So, when it comes to making a choice, it is a very hard thing to do. You can either publish something legendary and make yourself known, or lose credibility in your work, lose your job or even be banned from the industry completely. It is honestly a personal choice. You make the call, that’s why it is your ethical decision.

In class, our professor used this picture as an example:

Image

Would you as a journalist allow a famished child to lay there as it is prey for a vulture? The food chain is backwards and it is an incredibly moving and honest photo that captures the ideas of how many people are dying from starvation around the world. But still, as a human being, would you allow another human to be eaten by an animal? That is where I would personally draw the line.

In agriculture, there are new laws in progress to protect farms, CAFOs and different large operations from outside media that could be used against the industry. Critics call them “Ag-gag” bills. One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”

These undercover videos have caused immense damage to our industry over the past 5 years and will continue to be produced. However, as an agriculturalist, it makes us seem like we have something to hide.

This is where ethics plays in! On our farms and ranches, we do everything for a reason. There are many practices and jargon we use that the common public doesn’t understand and can be hard for them to take unless they know the purpose behind it. I feel like if consumers can’t come out to our farms, we should bring our farms to them. Then they would feel more comfortable with why and how we do things. Through video, we can be completely honest about these practices instead of making laws to stop others from coming in and manipulating farmers and ranchers’ situation.

I completely understand why these are in the process! We need to protect our farmers and ranchers from media which can tear down our industry. However, I feel through honesty and ethical actions we can be openly honest about why and how we do things in agriculture.

For more information about making the taping of farm cruelty a crime visit: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/taping-farm-cruelty-becoming-crime-1B9251810

-TAL

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