Slavery: What’s Your Ethical Duty?

Ask anyone if slavery is unethical and you’re almost sure to get a resounding yes. But the cold truth is that the practice continues in many forms and in many places, even here in the U.S. So a much more relevant question has to do with our ethical responsibility to do something about the problem: Do we have one and what exactly should we do?
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Long Overdue: A Sports Code of Ethics

I’ve been struggling with some ethical inconsistencies in the world of sports. Maybe you can help me think them through. Consider the following:

In golf, the honor code rules. Players routinely assess their own penalties if they accidentally move a ball or otherwise violate a rule. This doesn’t seem to happen in any other sport. Try to imagine a first baseman turning around to a baseball umpire after an “out” call and saying, “No, actually my foot slipped off the bag and he’s safe.” (No, I can’t imagine it, either.)
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Should Workers Know What Colleagues Earn?

There’s been a lot of debate lately over whether information on salaries should be shared with the staff. Those who favor making the names and numbers available to others at the firm argue that transparency is crucial to fairness and ethics. Employees need the information to conduct salary negotiations on a fair footing, and if two people are doing the same work and one is getting significantly more money, the boss should be forced to explain and justify the difference. In short, secrecy gives the boss an unfair advantage. If the pay scale is fair, no one has anything to hide.
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Book Review: New Ethics of Journalism

Back in 2002 I was tapped somewhat unexpectedly to teach a graduate level course in journalism ethics. On the first day, I was interrupted by a twenty-something student who attacked the syllabus, complaining that traditional journalism ethics had little relevance now that the Internet was taking over the media.

I was too dumbfounded to offer a good answer, but if I had kept the student’s name, I’d gladly send him a copy of The New Ethics of Journalism by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel, with contributions from many of the sharpest minds in journalism today.

This is a very important book about a very important subject, and just as journalism is no longer the provenance of professionals, this book ought to be studied by everyone who uses any form of social media to share or receive information.
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When a Thumbs Up Poses Problems

You hire a roofer. He shows up late and takes two days longer than expected. He does an adequate job but isn’t very good about cleaning up. As he leaves, he offers you a $50 rebate for any referrals who sign with him. Do your recommend him to your neighbors? If you do, do you tell the neighbors you’re getting a rebate? Do you split the rebate?
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Barring Anonymous Web Comments

On Aug. 1, the Eagle-Tribune, a daily newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts, took a courageous step. It stopped allowing users to comment anonymously on its Web site.

In a column announcing the decision, Executive Editor Al White said that while he understood that some people were unable to comment freely under their own names, allowing anonymity created bigger problems. “Too many used the feature to spew vitriol, bigotry, obscenity, cheap shots and juvenile taunts, no matter how hard we worked to keep the conversation civil.”
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Naming ‘Problem Drinkers’

The Janesville Gazette, a Wisconsin newspaper, set off quite a furor when it published a list of “problem drinkers” distributed by the Janesville police to bar owners with a warning that those named shouldn’t be served. The police did not intend for the list to be made public, and the newspaper’s decision prompted a debate about the ethics of the actions by both the police and the newspaper.
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