What is Ethical Consideration?
From a communications point of view, ethical consideration is the ability to provide to identify, analyze and evaluate an ethical dilemma as it relates to a communications scenario. Additionally, proven competency in ethical consideration is demonstrated when consideration a communications scholar can not only identify the dilemma, but also recommend a course of action.
What have I learned about ethical consideration? (So What?)
The course, COMM 616: Communicating Mindfully, provided a plethora of opportunity for us to explore communications ethics. The course book, Communications ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference, was one of my favorite texts in the program.
There are several assignments that stick out to me for evaluating communication ethics.
- The assignment that resonated the most in regards to communications ethics was our study of communication ethics in a movie. I studied the communication ethical dilemma in My Sister’s Keeper. This assignment had two parts:
I learned a lot from this assignment. I watched My Sister’s Keeper over and over again, at least twenty times, and I can quote parts of that movie by heart now. My daughter watched it with me and even she can remember almost every line! There were many complex communications ethical dilemmas in that movie, which made it interesting to study. The overarching plot of My Sister’s Keeper was centered on two sisters, Kate and Anna, whose relationship was defined by illness. Kate is diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. Her only hope for survival is a bone marrow transplant, but neither her parents nor her older brother are a match. At the recommendation of their oncologist, Kate’s parents conceive a child, Anna, for the sole purpose of donating blood marrow to save Kate’s life.
Throughout Anna’s life, she experiences almost as many medial procedures as her sister. Anna then seeks medical emancipation from her parents so she doesn’t have to donate her kidneys or participate in any medial treatment to save her sister’s life. But in the end, it turns out that Kate requested that Anna discontinue trying to save her life. This complex web of communication ethical dilemmas increase in scope and significance over time. While there are major ethical considerations in this scenario, I focused on the interpersonal communication ethics between the two sisters. Some of the most poignant lessons I learned through this research can be demonstrated by these four quotes from my paper:
- “Interpersonal responsibility calls for individuals to recognize that the ethical choice does not concern doing what is best for them or even what is best for the other person; rather, it’s about the ethical choice of doing what’s best for the good of the relationship (Arnett et al., 2009).” (Cacciatore, 2014, p. 7).
- “While one may think of ethical responsibility as doing what is “right” that’s not the case. The guiding key in relationships is our responsibility to the other, not our own, or their, hopes and wishes.” (Cacciatore, 2014, p. 20)
- “The key for the relationship is to not act on behalf of what “I” or the “Other” wants, but listen to what’s best for the relationship,” (Cacciatore, 2014, p. 9)
- “By acknowledging both our own, and the “Others”, ethical ground, we can establish the ethical narrative guide from which to negotiate,” (Cacciatore, 2014, p. 21).
- My post The Good Mother, was another great experience in understanding ethical communications. I wrote about my experience as a mother and the expectation to be a “good mother”. Arnett, Harden Fritz and Bell describe the good as “what is most important and held in the highest regard,”(Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell, 2009, p. 3). I hold being a mother at the highest regard. However, many mass communication outlets, including television shoes, movies and magazines communicate what it looks like to be a “good” mother. From the Psychology Today article that focused on the negative compass, to the Star magazine article “Star report card: Best and worst moms”, communication ethics are present in many publications, judging “good” moms.
- Finally my post protecting public discourse ethics examines public-decision making. Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell say that public discourse requires public accountability. I examined this concept, as it related to a recent story on CNN News in which public outcry changed the way a story was reported. However, the interesting component of this research was the study of Kenneth Anderson (2003) who was a key player in connecting public responsibility into the larger picture. Anderson (2003) stated that it’s important to protect the voice of the unknown and unseen. Not only is it important, but it is part of our commitment to public discourse ethics, (as cited in Arnett, Harden Fritz, and Bell, 2009, p. 105). An important component of communication ethics is to hear the voice of the unknown to ensure that those who are unable to let their voice be heard, still have a voice at the table.
The lessons I learned in on communications ethics will help me tremendously in my day-to-day life. One of the core values of my company is to act ethically. I ensure that with each action I take, I act ethically in my actions and words. I am also a Girl Scout leader, and I take great responsibility in ensuring that I lead by example for our girls. That means I evaluate the words that I say, and the actions I demonstrate, to ensure I’m reflecting a positive role model for the girls. My eyes were opened when I studied Kenneth Anderson (2003) and he explained that the voices that are unknown should still be heard. Anderson says that oftentimes, those who are not heard don’t have the privilege to choose. Many marginalized groups, including those who are differently abled, homeless or illiterate, don’t have the same opportunities to express their voice. As a communicator, it’s my responsibility to act ethically and ensure everyone has a voice, not just those who make their voice heard.
Reflections on Learning Outcomes
- Theoretical Literacy
- Research Literacy
- Digital and Media Literacy
- Writing Literacy
- Ethical Consideration
- Global Awareness
- Comprehensive Communications Project
Courses in my program
- COM 601 Communication Fluency
- COM 610 The Social Creation of Organizing
- COM 613 Constructing Messages and Audiences
- COM 616 Communicating Mindfully
- COM 624 Communication and Culture in a Networked Society
- COM 629 Leadership, Empowerment, and the Management of Meaning
- COM 638 Strategic Communication for Global Audiences
- COM 655 The Mediated Self and Changing Relationships
- COM 658 Creativity and Networks
- COM 664 Organizational Identity and Brand
- COM 680 Expanding Communication Boundaries
- COM 681 Launching Passion into Practice
Arnett, B.C., Harden Fritz, J.M.& Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
Cacciatore, S. (2014, April 25)). Interpersonal communication ethics in my sister’s keeper. Stacy Cacciatore’s Digital Project Portfolio. https://stacycacciatore.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/draft-2-interpersonal-communication-ethics-in-my-sisters-keeper/
Radar Staff (2012, June 18). Star report card: Best and worst moms. Radar Online. Retrieved from http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/06/celebrity-mom-report-cards/
Strep, P. (2013, Oct. 16). What makes a good mother anyways? Why what you don’t do matters more than what you do. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tech-support/201310/what-makes-good-mother-anyway