Conflict of interest?

The Potter Box is a an ethical decision-making model that can help you make an ethical choice when you are thrown in a “sticky situation” so to speak. The model is broken down into four steps: Understanding facts, outlining values, applying principles, articulating loyalties.

I read the case 4-B that involved the relationship at work. It was a relationship that developed between a woman journalist in a small town, and her male source. I applied the Potter Test and personally I decided it “passed.”

First off, the facts were that the relationship developed over time after working together for an extensive amount of time, not out of nowhere to where it could seem like there was a motive. 

I outlined the values involved in this situation and basically integrity really was the only thing I saw as something other people would consider lacking or not. To add to the facts, after the couple came out with their relationship the community was surprisingly supportive.

This leads me to applying the principles: basically what matters may not be journalism unwritten code of ethics, but how that particular group will react…which ended up positive.

Lastly, I applied the idea of articulating the loyalties. Where did this woman’s loyalties lie? Obviously, to her newspaper and to the community to get the write information. His loyalties lied at the station he worked at. He did benefit from the situation, but that was not an original motive.

With this being said, I see this situation as something to be handled with care and poise. But I see it as something that is very natural to happen, and I believe it should have the freedom to happen.

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