As my final semester at Lindenwood University starts, I have been enrolled in a Seminar in Professional Practice and Ethics class discussing ethics in the certain fields of Communications. Today for the first class, we reviewed some case studies of sticky situations that Public Relations representatives have come into. One of which was an issue with a Pharmaceutical company that was launching a new herb supplement in their stores. While all gungho about their product, the PR practitioner found that if this supplement was mixed with over-the-counter medicines, it could produce the same effect stimulant as getting high. The ethical issue arose when you have to decide whether to tell the company, tell them and stand by while no warnings come about, or back away and say that you do not stand by this product.
This is weird when you think about how the world works. This reminds me of Murphey’s Law. It states that, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Now, I’m not looking at this in a political standpoint on the world is wrong and humanity is destroyed. But the way that people work, kind of have this behavior. For example, “Anything that can twerk, will twerk.”
Twerking hit the nation before I even knew what it was but it spread like wildfire. Not everyone did it, but it was enough to get the world’s attention. People searched for it daily, how to do it, who did it first, to the point where it even became an actual word in the dictionary.
Another example: “If you can find anything can get you high, you will.”
This isn’t a new concept. Whether a PR practitioner stands by a product or not that allows someone to make their own high, then it won’t matter. If it can happen, people will make it happen. It also goes hand in hand with how society has “glorified” this drug culture. It’s seen as Artistic, Individualism, and Beautiful. What was once thought of taboo, can now even be declared a symbol of status. So deciding a stand will not matter with you. It’s basically how you individually feel. Despite the fact that it can be used as a high stimulant, do you believe it helps people, its a good product, and can benefit you? If yes, then you should stand by it. People will find the faults eventually. The fact that you don’t address this to the public whether you knew prior or not, means that you do not associate your product with this outcome. I’s sure when people released Glue, White Out, and Spray Paint, they never intended to get people high. To this day their products are not associated with that even though that became an outcome.
Another scenario we discussed was if we were a producer for a News TV Show and a story came about with a fight in a school that is known for non-violence and a video was captured and put online, do you air the story? In this way also, I feel like society has a way of telling these things themselves. This reminded me of a recent trending viral video called “Sharkiesha.” In this video, a young girl punches her friend in the face repeatedly while her friend screams for her to stop. It spread like wildfire.. again.
People took it everywhere and made memes, video spoofs, parodies with her name, photoshopped pictures and the video went everywhere. The fact that it spread so fast made it newsworthy in itself. As my professor pointed out in class today, society’s obsession with violence could be an entirely different take to report on these types of stories. I basically learned that society today will reveal itself and what they deem “newsworthy.” I hear more about Justin Bieber’s arrest for a DUI than I hear about anything on the three school shootings that happened in 3 months. Its a personal judgement call on whether you want to join the crowd or pass. It sucks that this is the field I want to get into sometimes, but at the same time it could be a beautiful thing. And if you choose to pass on one news story, then another one is coming in 3..2…1… Grammy’s.
Here’s a funny video to leave you with: