Case Study 2
Running head: CASE STUDY 2 1
CASE STUDY 2 4
Case Study 2
Case Study 2
The case revolves around the managing editor of a weekly newspaper, which is published in a small Southern community. 25 percent of the community is minority populations. The newspaper has a printed and an online edition, and the time has come for the managing editor to hire a new reporter. The target community is quite small (10,000 residents), and the choice of the new reporter will predetermine the future fate of the community newspaper. The managing editor must choose one of the two candidates. However, the circumstances of the hiring decision are quite challenging. On one hand, he can hire Alice Smith, an experienced African American female reporter, who has spent 10 years working in weekly newspapers published in larger cities. Despite having other opportunities, she wants a position in the community newspaper, because she wants to work in her hometown. On the other hand, the managing editor can hire Bob Squires, a Caucasian male with 20 years of professional experience in newspaper reporting. He has a thorough understanding of the financial and governmental issues. Currently, the community newspaper fails to provide a thorough coverage of the local government and financial problems. Also, the newspaper's coverage of minority problems leaves enough room for further improvement. Throughout its history, the newspaper has never had a single minority reporter, and the staff comprises mostly of male reporters. However, Alice Smith wants her salary to be 20 percent higher than the advertised minimum, which will certainly lead to huge dissatisfaction among other newspaper reporters. In contrast to Alice Smith, Bob Squires does not ask for any salary increases and he is better informed of the interests and problems facing the newspaper's target audience. Hence, the main question to be answered by the managing editor is who of the two candidates should be hired to meet the commercial needs of the newspaper and avoid ethical hurdles among the current staff.
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The ethical situation described above uncovers a complex set of the competing values, duties, and rules. The managing editor must follow these rules, in order to achieve the best results. The most desired outcome is hiring a new reporter, who will help alleviate the heavy workloads on the current staff, while making it easier to satisfy the emerging information needs of the diverse community members. The managing editor also has a duty to be fair and honest with the current staff, as these people have spent years working in the newspaper. The editor cannot hire both applicants, thus he has to refuse to hire one of them. In this situation, Aristotle's rule of the golden mean will serve as the most appropriate instrument of ethical decision making. Aristotle's rule of golden mean is actually a rule for achieving moderation in life. According to this rule, choosing positive or negative extremes is ethically fatal and morally wrong. Having too much of one virtue or negative character trait is never good for ethics. Consequently, the managing editor must apply Aristotle's rule to achieve a reasonable mean between the two extremes hiring both candidates or refusing to hire any of them. The relevance of the rule in the given circumstances is justified by the fact that choosing the mean is one of the most reliable ways towards virtue. A virtuous person always attempts to achieve the golden mean. The complexity of the competing values, duties, goals, as well as principles facing the managing editor should not be disregarded, and the rule of the golden mean will create a perfect ground for making the most feasible ethical decision. Certainly, the potential influence of external factors should not be ignored. For instance, the staff or the candidate may not agree with the proposed decision. However, it is the managing editor who is currently responsible for the future of the whole newspaper, and it is the editor who must make the first ethical step towards achieving the golden mean.
The best decision is to hire a candidate, who will create the atmosphere of diversity among the staff, while providing a better coverage of the most important economic and social issues in the community. In this sense, Alice Smith is the most suitable candidate. However, the problem is that Alice wants to earn 20 percent more than the advertised salary minimum. The newspaper budget is too small to provide additional compensation to the new reporter. In addition, Alice Smith is not as experienced and competent as another candidate, Bob Squires. In light of these complexities, Alice Smith should be offered a position of the newspaper reporter with the advertised salary and a probationary period. The latter will tell whether it is worth raising her salary by 20 percent. This decision meets the criteria of Aristotle's rule of golden mean. According to this rule, a person must pursue moderation in everything. Aristotle believes that pursuing extremes in either of the two directions is morally wrong. The proposed decision will confirm the managing editor's commitment to moderation. It will enable the editor to meet the need for diversity among the newspaper staff, silence the community's discontent with the lack of minority perspectives in news coverage, and maintain the sense of fairness and trust among the existing employees. In addition, the proposed decision will create the atmosphere of competitiveness and motivation, because the newly hired reporter will have to prove that she deserves to be paid 20 percent more than the advertised salary. By the end of the probationary period, the managing editor will either have to increase the salary or make a different hiring decision. However, it is quite possible that the successes and contributions made by the newly hired reporter will help the newspaper to increase its budget. Consequently, the managing editor will have better opportunities to increase the salaries and benefits for all members of the newspaper staff.
The proposed decision could have been different, if a different ethical theory was used. In case of the utilitarian ethical perspective, the managing editor would have to hire Bob Squires. In the utilitarian ethical rule, consequences serve as the chief criterion of ethical decision making, and the decision to hire Bob Squires promises the best outcomes for the newspaper staff. These promises are based on the candidate's extensive professional experience, his strong commitment to the profession, and the willingness to receive the advertised salary, without any exceptions to the rule. In addition, Bob Squires is experienced in and is ready to dig deeper into the governmental, financial, and economic issues facing the local community. Finally, the age of newspaper's best subscribers is 60 and older, and Bob Squires has a better understanding of their information needs than the younger candidate, Alice Smith. Apparently, this decision will leave the minority populations without a personal representative in the newspaper staff. Still, Bob has everything needed to familiarize himself with the needs, requests and expectations of the African American community members. Hiring Bob Squires is a better alternative to choosing Alice Smith, but this decision can quickly turn into a new ethical extreme. It is possible to assume that the newspaper staff comprising only of Caucasian male reporters will hardly have enough motivation, knowledge, information resources, and willingness to satisfy the emerging information needs of the diverse community members. The risks of bias should not be disregarded, and choosing Alice Smith is still advisable to achieve a reasonable balance of ethics and economy in the community newspaper.