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Juliana Reyes can publicize Mario Mason’s suicide and use it to attract public attention to the mistreatment of patients at the mental hospital. However, in doing so, she would alienate his friends and grandchildren, potentially harming his family. She would still host the program and attract public attention to the hospital, though to a lesser degree. As such, publicizing the story would promote accuracy and impartiality, and withholding it would promote humanity.
It would be accurate and truthful to mention Mario Mason’s suicide in relation to the hospital’s situation. The description would explain the reason why Ms. Reyes became interested in the treatment of patients at the facility. It would also serve the principle of impartiality by highlighting the potential danger of leaving patients with mental issues unattended when they try to seek help. The omission of the story would likely make the overall argument weaker and increase the probability that nothing would be done to help resolve the matter. However, the suicide’s publication would also harm Mr. Mason’s wife by informing the family’s friends and possibly the couple’s grandchildren of the suicide. This outcome violates the principle of humanity, which mandates that journalists try to understand the full impact of their stories and minimize the resulting damage.
The public’s right to know does not extend to Mario Mason’s suicide. As Berry (2016) notes, the concept of ‘public’s right to know’ emerged as a method for monitoring political entities, and this matter is personal. Therefore, it should not be relevant in this case, and journalists should have other priorities. Additionally, the program will function without a mention of the suicide, as there are many other cases available. Jacquette (2016) proposes that journalists think of the dead person’s family and only report suicides when they involve public figures or occur in public view. Neglect of mental issues is a substantial concern, even if it does not lead to suicides, and so it is sufficient for the program. As such, it may not be ethical to use the suicide as a starting point for the discussion. The approach adds a sensational aspect to the issue, and thus, it is not represented fairly and exaggerated.
Kant’s ethical duty approach mandates that Ms. Reyes includes the suicide into the program, as it is her duty as a journalist to report the truth. To do otherwise would be dishonest and detract from the efforts to resolve the issue. Mill’s approach proposes that the TV program does not include the suicide story because it is not essential to the overall narrative, and Mr. Mason’s family will be happier as a result. The relevant authorities will likely still work to address the concern once it becomes publicly known, and so the omission maximizes happiness. Lastly, Aristotle’s golden mean approach would seek to find a compromise between the two, which would constitute the publication of the story without the use of any personal details.
It is the author’s opinion that Mill’s theory is preferable in this case. As discussed above, it is not ethical to use suicide to sensationalize the story about the malpractice that occurs at the mental hospital. Furthermore, the inclusion is not strictly necessary for the program’s completion. It is enough to find less severe cases where the person affected would be willing to share their story or to refer to suicide as a possible worst-case scenario. Thus, both Kant’s and Aristotle’s insistence on the publication of the suicide is less preferable than Mill’s choice to omit it entirely.
Berry, D. (2016). Journalism, ethics and society. Abingdon-on-Thames, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Jacquette, D. (2016). Journalistic ethics: Moral responsibility in the media. New York, NY: Routledge.