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Opinion Article and Advertisement Ethics

by on March 30, 2013

So after Thursdays class I realized that I struggled with the fact that I seemed to have conflicting views in terms of the ethics involving those who write advertisements and those who write opinion pieces. We started with the discussion of the ethics for advertisement writers. Now, clearly one should not lie about facts of the product. For example, one shouldn’t advertise soda as a healthy beverage choice, when in reality it is fairly unhealthy. Though, the issue seems to get more slippery when we start to think about whether or not it is ethical if a writer says “It’s the most delicious soda pop ever!” when in reality he/she thinks that it’s terrible. Initially I thought that this would be fine, for it’s an opinion being lied about, and not facts. Though, I realized that I had a change of heart when discussing writers of opinion articles. When the question was asked if it was okay to write controversial opinion pieces because you know that the article would get a lot of attention even though the opinions you express are not your own. I came to the conclusion that in opinion pieces the main ethical question should be “Are these opinions my own, or am I writing them for alternative reasons?” If the answer is yes, I think mostly anything you choose to do from there is ethical. If the answer is no, then it is an unethical decision. This brings me back to the previous issue regarding advertisements. While an ad writer and journalist surly have separate obligations, it is still the writers words and thoughts being printed. So I guess the question truly comes down to even though an ad writer has a duty to uphold to their employer, does this mean that it is ethical for them to lie? And does the ad writer have no responsibility to the people its advertising to?

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