Test Blog #2

Test Blog #2

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Tips for Blogging Here

Ethics in the News:  That’s your topic.  Stick to it.  You can focus on any issue covered in the news recently.

Research and Support:  Sound brilliant.  Explore the featured issue from multiple perspectives. Also discuss ethical theories that relate to the case. Support your claims, especially if you are being critical of someone or something.  Cite your sources by naming them and/or linking directly to their information.  If your reader wants to know more, she can quickly access additional information.

Be Interactive:  Include hyperlinks to your sources and other interesting content about your blog topic.  Include hyperlinks early in your blog and often…but don’t overdo it.

Use Images:  Use images to strengthen your content and add interest for your reader, but keep your images relevant.

Be Succinct.  Most experts recommend about 250 words.  Use good judgement.  The length of this blog is an example of suitable length.

Be Conversational:  Write your blog in a conversational tone.  Use second-person voice and speak directly to the reader.  Say “you,” “we,” “us,” etc. to include the reader in your topic.

Invite Conversation:  This is key.  Your blog should include a call to action—the action being for the reader to talk back and continue the conversation.

Write Well.  Need I say more?

There are many resources out there about writing good blogs.   And guess what?  They’re mostly blogs.  Check them out.  If you find a good source, we’ll share it on our Resources pages.


Grading:  Yes, I know you’re concerned about a grade.  Imagine all the headers listed above will form the grading rubric for this assignment.  That’s all there is to it.

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Contract Cheating

A testing center at Penn State uses high-tech surveillance to watch for student cheating.  (Photo:  Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)

When I first taught this class many years ago, I featured a Blog about the University of Central Florida (UCF) cheating scandal, whereby a professor accused students of cheating on the midterm exam.  Since that time, UCF and many other institutions have gone high tech to fight cheating, and the use of online plagiarism detection services (such as Turnitin.com) have become commonplace. 

A not-so-new cheating buzzword caught my attention this year:  “contract cheating.”  I have long been aware of professional services that provide written work for a fee, but I was not aware how much attention this topic has garnered or how much the practice has grown among college students

I agree the companies that provide this service have become more conspicuous, and students may have become more jaded to the seriousness of this offence.  In an NPR news story about students cheating their way through college, I was struck by one student who didn’t consider it “cheating” if she paid someone to write “original” work.

“They don’t plagiarize,” she said, “…they write everything on their own.”

As much as professors would like to think this topic is black-and-white, it is not.  There are many different positions you could take.  Some cast blame on educators and even our parents.  There also are many ethical approaches you could take to explore the reasoning that leads to cheating, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, even social contract theory and many more. 

The International Center for Academic Integrity sponsors an International Day of Action against contract cheating (in October every year).

I look forward to engaging this year’s class on the topic and to hearing your views and perspectives.

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Super Bowl’s Controversial Team Names

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers competed for the title of Super Bowl champions this year, and as fans cheered and participated in the teams’ game day traditions, many of them probably did not think about the history of their favorite teams’ name.

 In his article about the Super Bowl teams’ names, Matthew Rosza explains how the controversial names not only belittle Native American history, but also the suffering they face today. 

The Chiefs’ name is problematic, however, the fans’ rituals, such as the “tomahawk chop,” that occur at Arrowhead Stadium may be even worse. “These mascots reinforce a stereotype and incorrect symbolism that Indians are uncivilized and uneducated,” said Kevin Allis, the CEO of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. They negatively affect Native Americans’ self-esteem, especially children and teenagers who may be represented as savage-like by their own high school’s sports teams. 

Although most fans probably are not purposely trying to offend anyone, does that make it okay? Or is the fact that they are offending people enough to get rid of Native American representations?

While many Native Americans believe these images and traditions should be banned, others have differing perspectives. A video posted by WGBH News shows a debate between two Native Americans who disagree over a bill that would ban high school teams from using names and logos that refer to the Native American culture. 

Gene Weeden, who is against the ban, said he sees it as an honor, and that there are more important things to care about. Conversely, Jason Packineau said people should just not be used as mascots in general. 

How do you feel about sports teams’ controversial names? Do you think they should put a ban on “racist” names? Let us know below.

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M-M-M-M My Corona Virus

The recent Coronavirus outbreak, now named COVID-19, has created a buzz surrounding the topic of disease and the communicable variables that spread these diseases.

Coronavirus is nothing new. Most of the common colds we deal with everyday are caused by a coronavirus. However the version causing uproar in the early months of 2020 is similar to outbreaks in recent history, but it is being dealt with in a very different manner. 

In 2003, the SARS outbreak created a stir when the Chinese government chose not to disclose the outbreak because of the impression it may give. This prevented mass hysteria however the decision caused the disease to spread at a quicker rate and delayed the process of treatment development.

This decision may have cost lives. The current outbreak, is being handled in a very different manner. There is a running count and open and honest communication between country borders. This has allowed for the virus to be identified as a unique strain in a matter of weeks, a treatment system to be implicated, and quarantines to take place. Ethically, this manner of communication is much more justifiable. 

The news of COVID-19 sparked more than a scientific race for prevention and treatment. The internet grabbed onto the new sensation to create jokes, no matter who would be harmed. Racist memes became some of the most popular mass humor on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram within days of the news. This perpetrated already recognized xenophobia and sinophobia, both which are often acted upon using disease and outsiders as justification. 

With this being said, social media has also been an outlet for “fake news.” Many believe that the spread of the disease has been aided by the spread of fake news. This “infodemic” has challenged Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets to combat potentially life-threatening falsities on their platforms. This step into the new age for health professionals has created easy distribution for false information.

Coronavirus has a lot of ethical debates surrounding it: how to manage disease information, humor and social media, and the spread of false information. All of these have an effect on the public’s view of Coronavirus and how we will handle future epidemics.

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Gender Discrimination in The Workplace

Due to the recent attention of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace, there have been movements that have started because of it. Movements like the #MeToo and #UsToo have become very popular amongst women and talked about globally. These movements include women sharing their stories of gender discrimination in the workplace and the sexual harassment that also occurred. The #MeToo and #UsToo movements have lead to Salesforce which is one of the most highly valued companies paying back about $3 million in adjustments in the first year after the audit showed the company had a large and continuous pay gap between men and women.

Gender Discrimination at Work is a topic that has been around for a while, however, it seems to get pushed away and forgotten about time and time again. But why? It often gets overlooked because many people have fallen into the norm of men always being in top positions. People have accepted that, and not much has been done to change any of it. 

Workplace gender discrimination comes in many different forms like gender inequality, sexism in the workplace, and so on. What it means is that an employee is treated differently or lesser than because of their sex or gender. Workplace gender discrimination can also include race or ethnicity; like women of color being discriminated against in the workplace differently from a white female co-worker. She could be harassed, paid less, passed over for a promotion because of her sex and her race. 

How does this all relate to communications? Sexual harassment and gender discrimination at any company can create a pretty bad image in the public. When stories like the ones break out into the public ear, it can diminish a companies reputation quite quickly. Which is a valid example of why PR is vital in all companies. Public Relations individuals must remember however to follow their code of conduct when handling a situation like such. They must remain honest to the public, remain loyal to there client, while also remains fair to the public.

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President Trump’s Presence on Social Media

By Madison, Maddie and Sabel

How many times a week do you see President Trump attacking someone via Twitter? Maybe three to four times a week? President Donald Trump and celebrity Chrissy Teigen have butted heads for several years, and it has just recently escalated in the last few months. Chrissy is known for her pithy commentary and is an active twitter user. She often tweets to Donald Trump and often voices her strong opinions against him. The tension escalated when Donald Trump blocked Chrissy Teigen in 2017. In September, Chrissy Teigen’s husband, John Legend, was on MSNBC talking about the First Step Act. After this interview aired, President Trump complained on Twitter that he and Republicans did not get recognized for this act. In President Trump’s tweets, he singles out Legend and Teigen, and calls her a “filthy mouthed wife”. Teigen then went on Ellen and talked about President Donald Trump and his tweets to her.

President Trump is known for his insulting and rude tweets which are often directed towards specific individuals. He is also known for blocking people on twitter. There are a few ethical issues with his actions. Is it acceptable for the President of the United States to be attacking people via Twitter? Is the President allowed to block people on Twitter? 

We believe these actions are unethical. Egoism and the Liberty theory can be used to explain Trump’s actions. President Trump may gain self-fulfillment by attacking people through Twitter or he may block people on Twitter out of his own self-interest. Also, according to First Amendment rights, President Trump is not allowed to block people on Twitter. Whichever reasons he may use, it is not acceptable for the President to be insulting and attacking individuals through Twitter.

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Ethics in the News: Sex Offender’s Death Turned Into Meme

In August of this year Jeffrey Epstein, one of the most notorious sex offenders, was reported to have committed suicide in his cell after being convicted of sex trafficking. At least, that’s what was the information released to the public at the time.

You may have seen some of the ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself’ memes circulating about. These stem from the same case. As “serious irregularities” were found in the case, it seems that there may be more to the story. The several inconsistencies included the fact that while under suicide watch, the cameras went down and no officers were in the area at the time to see what happened. 

A week and a half prior to his death, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell with signs of strangulation. The authorities placed him under suicide watch, and there were even more inconsistencies with the situation, such as the fact that the cameras happened to go down and there was a lack in officers that night, so no one was watching him, even though he was specifically being kept under watch.  (Is this needed?)

This wasn’t Epstein’s first case by the way. He was being investigated all the way back in 2003 for unlawful sex with minors and sexual abuse. While that case didn’t end in prosecution, there were several cases from 2008 to the Summer of 2019 in which victims came forward to tell their story and how their “…hopes were quickly dashed and my dreams were stolen.”

Looking at the compilation of these cases from an ethical perspective, it’s clear that there are some concerns with the way things happened. Utilitarianism, a.k.a providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, is obviously a concern in this debate. 

The next is the social contract theory, which can be applied to journalists, as well as the officers who were on duty when Epstein was found. SCT explains how fear of tragedy prompts people to enter social contracts and establish a set of agreed-upon rules. Journalists have the obligation to report the truth and the officers have a set of rules to protect and serve (which was violated if Epstein’s death really was a homicide.)

Finally, we took a look at satire and freedom of speech. ‘Meme-culture’ is wildfire and things catch on so quickly in today’s technical society. Memes are qualified as the expression of an idea and can fall under satire depending on the content. Since this is the case, it’s protected under freedom of speech. Even so, there are people, such as Epstein’s victims, who have to go through every day seeing these memes, which could potentially cause mental/emotional harm.

So what do you think? Do you think it was a suicide or homicide? What are your thoughts on the memes going around; are they just entertaining satire or is there a bigger issue behind them? Do you think that the memes are negatively affecting Epstein’s victims, and if so should they be taken down or is that a breach of Freedom of Speech?

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Should Columbus Day Be Changed to Indigenous Peoples Day?

by Zach Alecci, Graeme Eber, & Jonathan Nevius

In case you haven’t heard, there is a major push to change the name and theme of a federal holiday. In recent years, individuals and activist groups have been fighting state and local governments to officially change the name of “Columbus Day,” a day traditionally used to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the new world to “Indigenous People’s Day,” which celebrates the natives of the Western Hemisphere who were enslaved, displaced, and killed by European settlement. It’s taken some time, but this movement has now led to legislative changes within some local and state governments. 

Columbus Day was first celebrated in 1792 in New York to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1937, though. The reason for the new holiday makes it a unique situation, too. At the time, the US had a massive influx of Italian immigrants, which many Americans saw as a threat to their wellbeing (like how many view Hispanic immigrants today). To soften feelings toward immigrants, Columbus Day was developed to promote an “Italian hero.”

The ethics of Columbus Day remaining or departing as a federal holiday lie between descendents of indigenous people, and Italian-Americans. The best outcome is Utilitarian, and is the outcome in which both groups are respected and represented.

In recent years, many states and communities have made progress toward a solution to the controversy, including the District of Columbia. While there has not been a name change on a federal level, these communities have decided to use local changes as incremental steps toward greater change. 

What do you think? Talk to us – leave a comment below with your opinion on Columbus Day.

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Sandy Hook Promise

By Savanah Black, Bruno Polonio, and Jessie Tobin

The Sandy Hook Project recently came out with another PSA about gun violence in schools. It starts off as being a back to school supply commercial and quickly turns violent showing the reality and the fear of school shootings that children face today. It is a heart wrenching and eye opening commercial aimed to make you see the severity of gun violence and how it impacts the youth in our country. 

Although the shocking commercial is controversial, it received positive feedback overall. And it is for a good reason- they not only get your attention, but also call you to action. Advocates want to stop the normalization of school mass shooting once and for all.

Sandy Hook Promise wasn’t alone in this fight. They received crucial investments in donated media placements from CNN, AMC, Condé Nast, iHeartRadio and more. 

In an interview to The New York Times, Michael E. Kassan, a media professional and CEO of MediaLink, said “In the past, the advertising industry has been cautious about addressing politically sensitive topics, but marketing companies now sensed that a significant portion of the American public had tired of bracing for the next mass shooting.” People are reaching their limit and the Sandy Hook Promise commercial is another necessary spark to remind them of that.

Twitter has become a great place for people, especially younger adults, to express their opinions on important topics. After the Sandy Hook webpage posted the back to school video, people took to Twitter to voice their thoughts. Almost all of the top tweets were in support of the video and urged for stricter gun control. The hashtag #SandyHookPromise quickly started trending on Twitter, with many celebrities and politicians using it in their tweets. 

This organization wants to see change, and they have gone to extreme lengths to make it clear they will do all they can until this issue is addressed and resolved. The explicit nature of the commercial is to show you the reality and the horror of what it is like to be in this situation. They want to evoke change by tugging at your emotions. At this point, school shootings are so common there needs to be something like this in the media.

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