By: Charleah Trombitas JMC hosted a viewing of the movie Merchants of Doubt, which shined a light on many ethical dilemmas, followed by a panel of professionals to discuss the happenings in the movie. Let me start by making it known that this movie is a documentary, so there is a clear bias. Also, I would like to mention that I enjoyed the movie, though PR professionals were shown in a horrible light. To give a quick summary about the movie, it showed how major controversies in America have been handled and things that have been covered up by so-called “PR professionals.” I think there were five takeaways from this movie and the panel that followed: 1. There are going to be those practicing PR that act unethically. Thankfully, the Kent PR program focuses on ethics and so does PRSSA. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity for the same schooling and some professionals that work in PR do not have schooling for the profession. It’s sad that there are people out there giving PR a bad name, but it is bound to happen. It’s important to remember that these people are a bad example and not someone to look up to. 2. There is a difference between being loyal to your company and being unethical. Though at times you may be posed with ethical dilemmas, you should always strive to make the right decision. A company that you work for should never ask you to be blatantly unethical, and if they do, you should consider if that is a place where you want to work.
3. Even if you have a belief, be open to new ideas and opposing views. In the movie, there was a global warming skeptic. He took it upon himself to do research about the topic and look at both sides. After his research was completed, he changed his beliefs to thinking that global warming was a real issue. That is just one example about how having an open mind allows you to learn, and maybe even prove yourself wrong.
4. Having the reputation of an ethical professional can be lost in a second. You can work an entire career making all the right decisions along the way, but it only takes one unethical choice to ruin your reputation. Now this might sound scary, but if you are conscious of your personal and professional choices, it shouldn’t be a problem. David Hertz, a panelist for the ethics discussion that followed the movie, said it best: “You can build up your integrity for years and then lose it in a second.”
5. Journalism and PR professionals work together and need to have good relationships. They keep each other in-check. Journalists need PR professionals to know what is going on within their organizations. PR professionals need journalists to get their story out in print or on the web, and from an objective view. Both professions are held to a high ethical standard and should be able to respect one another’s profession. In the end, after seeing this movie I became motivated to make sure I am always ethical in my decision making. No job, boss or amount of money will force me to put my name on something that can ruin my reputation or even worse, something that is untrue.