Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Cases

Journalism Ethics Cases

Stealth Journalism
Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus, Robert Boyd Skip
Focus: Undercover reporting on school security raises ethical questions.

Embellishing The Details
Jake Teeny
Focus: A student journalist considers whether to fabricate to make a point.

Catchy Title or Needless Deception?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A journalist must decide when a promotion for a story is misleading.

Filtering and Pressure from Media Conglomerates
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Pressure from above creates a pseudo-controversy.

Wrestling, Weight Loss and Exposing A Flawed System
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Should a reporter include details in a story about how athletes exploit loopholes in a testing program?

Misplaced Funds Cloud Reputation: Is it worth it?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Reporting ruins the reputation of a respected local coach.

News and a Profit-Driven Turn to Advertising
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Should news content be aligned with ad revenue?

Exploitive Tactics or Good Journalism?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: How close up and personal should a reporter get to the scene of a tragedy?

Radio News: When to use a name?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A student makes a false allegation to police. Should the campus radio station reveal the students name?

Getting Personal: Private Lives and Public Figures
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Is the mayor's impending divorce a fit subject for a news story during a campaign?

Exposing The Pay of Public Safety Officials
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Does the public have the right to know the salaries of police and firefighters?

Questionable Content: Editors and The Pressure of Falling Ad Revenue
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A magazine editors job comes to include creating free advertisements for luxury products.

Breaking a StoryAnd a Relationship
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Full reporting on a case of steroid abuse would have disastrous consequences for the reporters source.

Fair Play or Damaging The Reputation of Youth?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: The father of a Little League player misstates his age so that he can play in the World Series. What is the reporter's responsibility considering the boys youth?

To Use Photos or Not: Damaging Photos in An Online Age
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Undergraduates put racist photos of themselves on Facebook. Should the student newspaper reprint them?

Creativity and The Race for Syndication
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Economics of the TV industry mitigate against creative programming.

Using Borrowed Material
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Using photographs published online creates ethical questions about copyright.

The decision to pursue and publish the Megan's Law story
David Yarnold and Susan Goldberg
Focus: What accountability was the newspaper willing to accept if the named sex offenders lost their jobs-or worse-as a result of publishing their names?

The decision to give Armand Tiano's victims a voice
David Yarnold and Susan Goldberg
Focus: Should a newspaper print the names of victims of a sex offender at their request?

The decision to stop printing the name and photo of the 9-year-old kidnapping victim
David Yarnold and Susan Goldberg
Focus: In a child abduction case, should a newspaper assume that the child is being sexually assaulted and not use a name or photograph?

A Case for Truth
Kirk O. Hanson
Focus: A public relations professional is asked to counsel the local Roman Catholic Archdiocese on how to respond to the sex abuse crisis.

Henry's Publick House
Thomas Shanks
Focus: What are the ethical questions involved when the media broadcasts hostile situations live?