Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Cases

All Cases

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 mayors 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 reporters 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.

Leaked Movie Trailer and A Confidentiality Agreement
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Confidentiality agreements prevent film industry employees from releasing information about upcoming releases.

Deceitful Movie Trailers or Good Advertising?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A producer must create an appealing trailer for a terrible movie.

To Exploit or Commemorate: Film and The Challenge of 9/11
Jessica Silliman
Focus: How soon is too soon in making movies about disasters?

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

Reporting Inflated Numbers
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A companys internal communications representative is asked to report inflated profit numbers.

Controversial Radio Advertising
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A sales intern for a radio station is pressured to mislead advertisers.

Bad Business Ethics or Acceptable Promotional Perks?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A radio station inflates the number of on-air giveaways they ask companies to provide and then offers the excess as perks to station employees.

A Right or Wrong Way to Sell?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A contract sales rep is asked to circumvent the industrys chain-of-custody arrangements.

Effects of Ethics Policies: A Positive Story
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Doing the right thing brings praise.

Homeless at the Door: A Nonprofit Challenge
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Should a homeless help center have strict hours?

Aggressive Sales Quotas or Unfair Business Practice?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: An online directory chooses customer service over inflated advertising packages.

Public Relations: Is The Customer Always Right?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A client rigs a talent competition/publicity event.

Balancing Nonprofit Interests
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Should an HIV/AIDS program focus on prevention or treatment?

Deceitful Spammer or Marketing Genius?
Jessica Silliman
Focus: Is impersonation a viable marketing approach?

Client Obligations and Handling Your Boss
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A boss forwards a draft e-mail to a client.

Trust During The Dot-Com Boom
Jessica Silliman
Focus: A company woos a new employee under false pretenses.

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?