ERIC Number: ED179989
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Press, the Government, and the Ethics Vacuum.
Merrill, John C.
Immanuel Kant's idea of a will to do the right thing--to be ethical--is essentially a dead concept with both press and government. The reasons for this "ethics vacuum" are two-fold: the foundations of ethics in both circles are vague, confusing, and beset by relativism and pragmatism so that no system of ethics ever really coalesces; and neither group holds any real desire for a coherent and unified system of ethics. Journalists and government officials as a rule want ethical questions to remain unresolved. This way they never have to feel guilty or to have a definite verdict of unethical practice attached to them. Many persons in the press see themselves as serving as a check on government, while there is the evident belief among some government people that they must restrain the press from irresponsible and harmful actions. If an ethical vacuum exists in the United States, it is because that is what journalists and government officials desire. The ethical person is not really the successful person in journalism or government, and those persons who seriously want to be ethical had best stay out of both fields unless they are satisfied to live in frustrated silence. (FL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (65th, San Antonio, TX, November 10-13, 1979)