(1) The most important ethical lessons I've learned in this course
This course has really opened my eyes to a variety of ethical lessons, but two stuck out to me the most. The first is the issue of fabrication and plagiarism. Watching Shattered Glass astounded me. Before this class, I knew plagiarism existed. In high school, we always had to submit our papers to an online site. The site searched your paper and then compared it with sites found all over the web, to see if there was any overlap. But I had never really thought about plagiarism in the newsroom. To me, that was just something that you would never do. Watching the movie about Stephen Glass opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes these things do happen. Sometimes a person just completely abuses power and trust and can get away with it for a long time. I'm a candidate for The Daily Collegian this semester, am taking six classes, and have a genetic condition that causes me pain the majority of the time. There are times when I have a paper due, a sore back, and I'm fifteen minutes away from my deadline, and still haven't had a source call me back. It's so frustrating, and of course, it would be easier to just type something up that would fit perfectly with my story, attribute it to a random John Smith, and call it a day. But I could never imagine actually doing that. It's incredible to me that people like Stephen Glass exist, and this class really opened my eyes and taught me to be aware and careful.
The second lesson I learned was the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest. Our case study focused on sources and what happens when interests can become murky. Our case study was about two sources that originally were just helping each other. Their relationship quickly progressed, and they started a romantic affair while still working with each other on a reporter-source basis. The two faced serious consequences from their action. The woman stepped down from her job at her paper, and the man was removed from the running for a political position. As a reporter, the way you get your story is through sources. It's important to have good, trusting relationships with sources, in order to have the best story you can have. But you can have a strong work relationship with a source without letting it get out of hand.
(2) The course's impact on my future career and life
I want to be a broadcast journalist. I want to travel and report and be a trusting source of information. This class taught me that as a journalist, my number one priority is to the audience and the truth. I want to be on CNN. But even if I am at a small town news station getting people coffee and somehow end up on air reporting on a silly insignificant story, I'm still going to be true to the facts. I'm going to always put the audience and truth first, ahead of any and all personal feelings. This course really helped me see that and cement it in my mind for my future.
(3) When I first started in this course, I was wary. It was at nine in the morning on a Monday, and to me, learning about ethics did not seem like the most thrilling subject - there's right and there's wrong - what more do I need to learn? But as this course progressed, I realized that it's not that simple. There are ins and outs and judgment calls to be made, and things were definitely not as black and white as I thought them to be. However, while the course material proved to be more interesting than expected, my favorite part of this course had to have been you, Dr. Z. You are a wonderful professor who appears to genuinely care about his students. We all could have easily just been random faces in a classroom to you, but you took the time and effort with us. You know our names and you know things about our lives. You pushed us positively, rewarded us when deserved, and constructively criticized us when it was necessary. I really enjoyed this course and you as a professor, and genuinely hope to have you again in the future. Thanks for everything!