Whistleblowers are individuals or groups who expose sensitive and illegal information revolving around wrongdoings, frauds or violation to company’s policies to the outside world. Information can either be transferred to integral or external sources to make the outside world aware of such wrongdoings within the company structure. Normal media ethics relates to the ethical principles and policies, which are strictly maintained within broadcast media, film, arts or any subgroup under the media umbrella. Essentially, whistle blowing is considered unethical since it damages the inter-personal relationships between the whistleblower and his staff. Although the accusation is bound to suffer, the accuser can also face unappealing behavior from his colleagues due to apparent breaking of the ethical veil.
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Studies reveal that whistle blowing employees face the constant dilemma of ignoring an issue or reporting/exposing it to the outside world. From an ethical perspective, ignoring unethical actions can also turn out to be unethical. Ethics without morality is absurd and unthinkable. Practices within a media organization are sometimes bound to disrupt normal functioning.
However, whistleblowers risk the incidence of been seen unethical themselves. Post whistle blowing period might be advantageous to the employee operations, but might damage the whistleblower’s reputation and communication with his/seniors and co-workers. From an ideological paradigm, whistle blowing is considered a form of civil disobedience for protecting the rights of workers (Booet al 2016). However, some regard whistle blowing as blasphemous and unethical especially in workplaces dealing with sensitive client information. Thus, workers may carry out sensitive discussions within themselves, but it is considered ethical to ‘leak’ it beyond.
While whistleblowers are regarded as selfless martyrs’, their approach to flashing the organizational fissures and faults might be unethical to some. Whistleblowers are often accused of exposing sensitive information for personal well being or attaining fame and glory. This creates a psychological impact on whistleblower’s actions who otherwise expect respect from a virtuous ethical perspective.
Experts believe that organizations want their employees to engage in a symmetric information transfer that shows their commitments and welcomes information brought to management’s attention. It is crucial to recognize worker’s contribution and reflection of wrongdoings within the company. The probability of whistle blowing and company’s welcomed approach to it helps create or restore peace and company reputation. Sometimes workers feel uncomfortable to open up in spite of grave misconduct (e.g. sexual offences or fraudulent activities) for the fear of being looked down upon. Thus, it is quintessential for an organization to avoid circumstances of whistle blowing by creating an aura of support and cultural assemblage. So employees might feel that their act of blowing the whistle’ might result in no actions taken against offenders or they may be passed on as rumors (Long, 2016).
From a professional discourse, organizations should indulge in training and supporting their worker to avoid disparity. This call for regular mentoring, advice and other support systems that will help infuse effective communication. Organizations should deal with whistle blowing professionally and ensure that whistle blowers do not face potential threats. Ethically, it is the organization’s responsibility to ensure that employees are given proper attention and the fact that whistleblowers respond more promptly when they feel that they are listened to. Organizations should be ready to receive feedback from its employees regarding any acts of misconduct or while dealing with sensitive information. Ideally, trade unions (if any) may further encourage protection of worker’s rights through acts of whistle blowing.
The standard whistle blowing policy varies with the modus operandi of media organizations and their perspective of safeguarding whistle blowers from an ethical point of view. Large organizations often allow employees to communicate with their immediate managers for handling whistle blowing disclosures. However, the dilemma of restoring enough belief in whistle blowers thereafter is questionable. Whistle blowing laws and principles direct employees on their commitment, which should be handled consistently and fairly. Unless otherwise stated, organizations must protect the identity and confidentiality of the whistle blowers unless they break laws pertaining to this subject (Keil et al 2018).
Normally, whistle blowers suffer disapprovals everywhere around him/her. Studies show that media houses suffer from asymmetric information particularly arising from coworkers change in perception and behavior with whistle blowers. Breaking the dilemma of organizational and personal ethics, whistle blowers choose to expose sensitive and potentially harmful information but possibly risking their communication with everyone around. Notably, co-workers may think that whistle blowers are aiming to gain attention or receive promotion, which is exactly why employees often prefer maintaining loyalty by staying away from whistle blowing.
Whistle blowing affects the reactionary behavior that he/she receives from the management post whistle blowing. Often, instances of alienation may cause discomfort and the whistle blowers may feel that they have been instrumental in scarring the balance. While instances of wrongdoings definitely call for being known beyond organization’s boundary, workers may suffer from ‘minding their own business’ syndrome which poses potential threats. Whistle blowing technically challenges trust and calls for retaliation from the organization or affected employees in case of wrongdoings (Bashshur, and Oc, 2015). Companies want their employees to follow internal communication systems in case of incidences of disturbance. Although this gives enough time for internal mending, this may create disparities and might not be effective enough. Empirically, whistle blowing in media environment breaks chain of command whereby managers are skeptical on continuing a smooth information flow with them. To avoid this, some organizations inspire their leaders to create a culture that encourages employees to speak up against concerns internally to avoid potential degradation of management. However, that might not be too effective since from an individual ethical point of view, employees may feel deceived.
Particularly when company executives are themselves involved in illegal activities, whistle blowing may cause victims to face legal claims or public backlash. This typically represents an autocratic situation whereby speaking up against the wrongdoing activities may result in potential disparities with possible threats to life or property.
It also raises the question of maintaining ethics within the media industry primarily due to their responsibility of dealing with valued information that might spark revolts. From a legislative perspective, whistleblowers should believe that whistleblowers should disclose past, present or future wrongdoings, which are either criminal, failure to oblige with, company’s policies or injustices, etc. This paper deals with the ethical liabilities of employees indulging in whistle blowing. Moreover, it deals with their adherence to the Employment Rights Act and the ethical dilemmas that they face post whistle blowing.
Whistle blowing is tremendously looked down upon in all sorts of media organizations and are particularly dealt with seriousness that may include termination of employment, demotion or even discrimination. Although there are multiple laws and rules supporting the rights of employees, whistle blowing (especially external) is dealt with seriously. External exposure of reporting misconduct may potentially attract attention of media, government or human rights activists, which may tamper the organization’s respect (Lee et al 2018). Although Whistle blower protection Act potentially saves victims from retaliation, there are numerous examples to prove otherwise. Edward Snowden was sued and charged with violating the Espionage Act by the US Government department of Justice. Reportedly, Snowden showed valid proofs of how US government imposes surveillance on its citizens. This controversial example of whistle blowing shows that whistle blowing essentially attracts attention of all the concerned parties and can potentially merge acts of whistle blowing with potential frauds, etc.
Ideally, organizations boast of working under a perfect work ethics policy paradigm, which protects rights and brings out reforms in workplace. Leaders and managers are advised to train and develop employees to resolve potential issues through effective communication. However, that is not always the case. While leakage of potentially sensitive information can indeed create a stir and be potentially dangerous to the company’s health, incidences of illegal activities indeed needs to be shared. Nevertheless, to maintain their loyalty and avoid problems, employees often overlook and consume such incidences. The psychological impact of whistle blowing can indeed force whistle blowers to resort to violence, addictions and in turn worsen their individual capabilities.
From an ethical perspective, organizations should oversee resolution of particular issues and double check whether the acts of whistle blowing comply with their working ethics. Thus through careful usage of prompt communication, companies should aim to collaborate with the whistle blowers and accept their feedback positively. The moral principles that govern individual behavior paves way for positive and negative impacts. Some eminent researchers, however, advice adopting ‘guerilla tactics to expose incidences of illicit behavior or wrongdoings without getting flashed in the limelight.
Ethical Dilemmas Of Media. (2019, May 18).
Retrieved May 24, 2022 , from
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