Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Well, it's the end of the year... I'm about to graduate -- after 7 years of going to school and working the whole time... I can honestly say that I am extremely glad to be done with school - at least for a while. I love school and class and learning and listening to different viewpoints, but I am so ready to have my own time and pursue what I want and learn everything I'm interested in. Getting a degree involves taking classes you may not have been interested in - just so you get a taste of different ways of thinking - and that's good. This has been one of those classes for me. My major is photojournalism -- I wasn't really interested in journalism as a major -- I'm more of an art girl, and I love photography -- I thought a journalism degree would help me land more jobs, so I went with photo J. This class has probably been one of the most helpful classes I've taken - ethics is important in any field whether it's journalism or not. I've enjoyed listening to our class discussions (and sometimes arguments), but most of all, I've enjoyed Jacqui's enthusiasm and passion for the subject. I'll remember it, and what I've learned in this class is something I will use for the rest of my life. :)

I wasn't really surprised that this type of thing goes on - after reading this article. Companies act as a lot of people do -- they do the best they can to paint a pretty picture to get their way. Companies do it to gain a financial benefit while people do it for that - and other selfish reasons. It makes me mad how companies are willing to put other people's lives in danger (by misleading them). The line that sums up this article is "balancing the need to raise money with core matters of conscience." If the conscience is ignored, chances are the company will do the wrong thing. The ADA's relationship with pharmaceutical companies is hypocritical - much like MAAD's comingling with alcohol companies. How can an organization properly get their message across when they are doing things that confuse the public as to what their intents and motives are? Are they really concerned with making a positive impact on the community by standing against "bad" things? Or are they mainly interested in the money they can raise for their "cause"? I think they probably are concerned with a little of both.

Plunkitt of Tammany Hall
What is "honest graft" and "dishonest graft"? George Washington Tammany was said to have become rich by way of an honest graft. There is a large difference between getting rich through and honest graft and by getting rich through a dishonest graft. Tammany made his money in politics, but he did not do it dishonestly. He honestly made his money by seizing opportunities for investment as they came about. He did not cheat, steal or gamble. After reading that article, I really came to like Mr. Plunkitt. He's honest and likeable. He did philanthropic work for the cause of philanthropy, but also so he could get votes. He wanted the common good. He had a saving truth - his saving truth was to take the opportunities as they come -- but do it honestly.

Monday, December 04, 2006

13 conservative groups asked the FBI to investigate pornography offered in hotels according to a CNN report. The groups named two distributors of hotel room porno: OnCommand and Liberty Media. The hotels have pornography that automatically starts up when ANYONE walks into a room.

Here is a quote from the article:

"These are places that you take your family -- these are respectable institutions," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Anything that brings porn into the mainstream is a concern. It just desensitizes people."

This was suprising to me -- I thought it might be a bit of an ordeal (and embarrassing) to order a pornographic film while at a hotel.

Saving truth...
What is saving truth? Why do people believe that there truly is a saving truth for anything?
People fight and die for their saving truth. Religions claim to have a saving truth. Non-religious claim to say there is no saving truth - or that it is impossible to know the saving truth.
Jacquie said her saving truth is " only this: that money should never be the reason that we make important decisions, and that accepting money despite conflict of interest is a hypocritical and self-interested choice." I whole-heartedly agree. I think my saving truth -- for my whole life -- and not just ethical decision making for my job is a little more broad. My saving truth for ethical decision making in general is that decisions should not be made for selfish reasons that negatively effect other people - whether money is involved or not. This covers a lot of area. Where a husband or wife are concerned... a spouse should not cheat on the other because it negatively effects the innocent spouse. Students should not cheat on school work because it negatively effects other students who spent time studying. Lying, stealing, etc are all good examples... but saving truth can mean something more. Saving truth is the one truth out there that is the complete set of honest rules to live by. I believe there is an ultimate truth, but cultures and all different people live by different rules, morals and values -- all of their truths differ and sometimes clash. Why do I think my saving truth is the best? I have not been in the mind of another.

The view that all human beings belong to a single community that should be cultivated is cosmopolitanism. We are a part of the same community in a global sense... Although each person in each area of the world is different, we all share the same similarities. In class, we were asked to interview another classmate. The guy I interviewed couldn't have been more different than me, but our differences mirrored each other, and the fact that we were so different is what made us a bit similiar. The categories of our differences are what we identified with. I come from a large family of 10 children - he comes from a small family of 3. He is the youngest - I am the oldest. Although these are opposite, we still identified because his uncle has a large family, and my uncle has a small family. We talked about the differences of our roles in the family (oldest vs youngest) and how that has shaped us. He comes from a pretty wealthy family, whereas my family struggled... He is 20 and speeding through school, and I am 25 and have been forced to take my time. He's never had a girlfriend... I've been married for 7 years and just got divorced. He's from Texas; I'm from Florida. He's never been out of the United States -- I've lived a lot of places overseas.

I read this story about slave labor in Brazil:

The article about slave labor in the Amazon area of Brazil. People work in horrible conditions with no pay. The conditions he lives in are horrible, and he cannot get out of his situation, because he has no means or funds to leave. There are about 1 millions slaves in the area - and there labor goes to produce goods used in the United States. One of the companies that found out about the slave labor, Ford Motor Company, decided to stop buying those products and find other means when it found out. Another company, Nucor Corp, continues to buy. Kohler and Whirlpool make statements about how slavery is wrong, but they do not take any action. GM does. They hault trading with Interment when the company didn't answer questions fast enough. That is the ethical thing to do. Taking action is what changes the world for the better. Some companies claim they didn't know about the slave labor -- or that it was hard to find out about. That is a cop-out. Companies need to find out about this kind of thing, and when it is brought to light, they need to not make cheap excuses. PR professionals need to be ethical in their decision making by making sure companies do this. There should be zero tolerance as far as things like slave labor is concerned. Just because it isn't happening in our own backyard does not mean it is ok. Companies should definitely seek out manufacturers that have ethical backgrounds. Making ethical decisions - despite the consequences financially is the hard, but right thing to do.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron executive, is still staying he's innocent! He was sentenced to serve 24 years and 4 months in prison on 19 counts of fraud and conspiracy. He was one of the men to dream up deceitful accounting tricks to hide the financial problems Enron was going through. Most people believe that the sentencing for white collar crimes is too harsh, and that may be the case in a lot of instances, but I don't believe his sentencing is too harsh. His purposeful unethical acts and lies caused pain to many families, and I think he deserves everything he's getting. Not only did Skilling's actions cause people to lose their jobs, but what he did effected so many people's futures and their families futures. If he wins and appeal...... aye yi yi.

Here's a brief summary of the Enron film we watched:

The film is based on the book by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. It takes a look at probably the biggest corporate scandal in American history. It traces the events leading up to the company walking away with more than a billion dollars - which robbed employees and investors blind. The documentary is a interwoven mass of video footage, audio and interviews that lay out the story. It was pretty interesting... and humorous at some points.

We've been watching the Enron DVD this last week - which has been fascinating. It's almost impossible to believe that people can be so unethical. The film makes me wonder if the people behind the scandal actually just got in over there heads when they saw dollar signs -- or if they actually were, in fact, just bad people at their core.

What is the relationship between financial analysts and practitioners of financial public relations? I found that in the post-Enron marketplace, people expect complete and full disclosure on a company's financial standings. Public relations professionals are expected to communicate a company's investor relations in areas such as merger/acquisitions, IPO communications, quarterly earnings, investor conferences, financial media relations, annual report assistance, online investor relations opportunities, research and analyis. PR pro's should also be aware of communicating financial media relations, and financial analyst relations.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Here is the link to the news story:

On March 16, 2006, the SEC announced the enforcement action it plans to take against the companies: Bear, Stearns and Co and Bear, Stearns Securities Corp. Bear Stearns is being charged with securities fraud due to late insider trading of mutual funds by it's customers and new brokers. Bear has to pay a significant amount in fees for it's actions, and it is being forced to meet compliance standards within the company.

SEC rule 10b5-1 says that a person my be subject to insider trading if transactions take place when the trader is aware of information not known to the public...and then the trader makes a decision to trade based on the inside information she has received.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Utilitarianism is defined as the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It treats society as a whole - like it would treat one person. It's main objective is the end result, and the means by which getting to that end result are deemed as ethical, usually, as long as the outcome is seen as ethical. Communitarianism is defined as the idea that what is good for the communities and society is good for corporations. It is more about focussing on individuals. The PRSA code of ethics has PR professionals agree to work for the public needs and interests. It seems the code is more about communitarianism rather than utilitarianism. The interests of the community public are at the heart of the PRSA code. The PR professional disseminates information to the public community through community outlets such as the media in the most fair and accurate way possible. The two-way symmetrical model allows for the PR professional to communicate and build relationships with their publics in the community as well. The PRSA condones communication between the organization and groups or individuals in the community. While utilitarianism is a component of the ethics style the PRSA is concerned with, their main style is communitarianism.

Test Review:

PR professionals serve as ethical advocates by using their positions to make sure that ethical standards are upheld by corporations. PR professionals should represent corporations honestly and openly while still balancing the sensitivity of subject material to the public. Standards of ethics a PR pro uses differ between cultures, but ultimately, a PR pro should not do anything on behalf of a corporation that he or she is ethically uncomfortable with.

Utilitarianism is the idea that the ethical choice is the one that does the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Communitarianism is the idea that whatever is good for a community is what is good for a corporation. Ethically, these styles of thinking are vague because the idea of what is "good" is not defined, but whatever is beneficial for the masses is understood to be ethically "good." These eithical concepts try to maintain a sense of "fairness" between large groups and /or communitites of people.

The two-way symmetrical model deals with communication between pr professionals and the community.

Corporate speech is the speech on behalf of a corporation that is political in nature. Commercial speech is intended for commerical purposes of advertising products. The first amendment does not dictate certain types of people that have speech protection - just important certain types of speech. Political speech is deemed as more important speech than advertising or commercial speech. Commerical speech is that speech which is unallowed if it is deceptive to a consumer.

FTC (federal trade commission), FDA (food and drug administration), and the SEC (securities and exchange commission)

IPR - Institute of Public Relations
integrity - competence - confidentiality - spreading awareness

IABC - International Association of Business Communicators
human rights - rule of law - sensitivity to cultural norms
communications - legal, ethical, good taste
sensitive, accurate, fair
honest, accurate, prompt, support free speech, law abiding, no gifts

PRSA - Public Relations Society of America
performance, professionalism, ethical conduct
enforcement eliminated

These codes of ethics seem to be somewhat similiar. They deal with the PR professional practicing ethical honesty, professionalism and fairness in good taste with society and cultural norms. The main difference is that the prsa does not have an actual enforcement policy which makes it hard to determine the line between what is ethical PR practices and what is not.