Codes of Ethics give professionals at all levels a benchmark for their behavior in a particular industry. For communicators, ethics are especially important, as our jobs directly affect the education and mindset – and therefore the actions – of the public. Communicators can influence how people vote, what they buy and how they spend their time, so they must maintain a high ethical standard in order to promote the greatest good for the general public.
As I reflect on the task of writing a personal code of ethics, several values come to mind. Two stick out: honesty and professionalism.
I don’t believe there’s a value that’s more important to me as an individual than honesty. I would rather have someone (gently) tell me a hurtful truth than try to protect my feelings. I believe honesty and transparency, though they can often be more of a hassle up front, ultimately promote a healthier dialogue and flow of information. For example, I’m a strong proponent of open records and open meetings because they foster an environment of trust and accountability between leaders and their constituents. I handle disappointment well, and am able to recover quickly from insults or arguments – but if I find out someone has lied to me, it upsets me so much more.
I believe honesty is valuable in the workforce because it promotes a culture of transparency. Office conflicts of all sizes are bound to arise, and a culture of openness allows employees to state their feelings, questions or ideas in order to more quickly reach a solution as a group.
As a student worker, I was lucky to have employers who instilled this value in me. Many dream of working in sports solely because they’ve grown up as a sports fan – however, a job in sports requires so much more than enthusiasm. Media members and team employees alike should strive for a certain level of professionalism – meaning, as challenging as it can be, no cheering or jumping around when your favorite player hits a 3-pointer.
As a videographer, I especially appreciate sideline professionalism because having a photographer talking in the background of my footage is a nuisance and is nearly impossible to edit out. Support staff must understand that their roles involve behind-the-scenes work, and if they prefer to be able to cheer, they should pay to sit in fan seating.