1st Edition

Making Hard Choices in Journalism Ethics Cases and Practice

By David E. Boeyink, Sandra L. Borden Copyright 2010
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book teaches students how to make the difficult ethical decisions that journalists routinely face. By taking a case-based approach, the authors argue that the best way to make an ethical decision is to look closely at a particular situation, rather than looking first to an abstract set of ethical theories or principles. This book goes beyond the traditional approaches of many other journalism textbooks by using cases as the starting point for building ethical practices. Casuistry, the technical name of such a method, develops provisional guidelines from the bottom up by reasoning analogically from an "easy" ethical case (the "paradigm") to "harder" ethical cases. Thoroughly grounded in actual experience, this method admits more nuanced judgments than most theoretical approaches.

    1. Hard Cases in Journalism Ethics

    2. The Role of Ethical Theory

    3. The Paradigm Case as Ethical Standard

    4. Using Case Comparisons to Make Ethical Choices

    5. Evaluating Ethical Judgments

    6. Causistry and Newsroom Policy

    7. The Janie Blacksburg Case: Casuistry in Action


    David E. Boeyink is Associate Professor of Journalism and Director of the Journalism Honors Program at Indiana University.  His research on the ethics of decision-making in the newsroom is published in Journalism Quarterly, the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and the Newspaper Research Journal.

    Sandra L. Borden is Professor of Communication and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan University.  She is author of Journalism as Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics and the Press (available in paperback from Routledge), winner of the 2008 Award for Top Book in Applied Ethics from the National Communication Association's Communication Ethics Division.

    "One shouldn't skim Making Hard Choices in Journalism Ethics ... there is too much that would be missed in that way. [...] The book helps "walk you through" a number of cases that will tie theory, practice and goals together in such a way as to allow the reader to become thoroughly familiar with a much wider variety of common (and some uncommon) journalistic ethical problems that one might expect from the size and weight of this book."

    --Media Ethics, Univ. of Illinois, Fall 2010 Volume 22, No.1