Find one article in the Wall Street Journal that involves an issue of business ethics, download it and attach for me alongside the completed paper. – Identify the ethical issue and provide analytical reasoning as to why this qualifies as an ethical issue – Explore the effects of and implications of the issue within a contemporary business organization and within a the broader societal context – Analyze the issue applying the different ethical theories we covered in class o Is this an ethical problem when viewed through the lens of that theory? o Why or why not? o Applying the principles of that theory, how would a follower of the theory resolve the issue? …………..
The News of the World is a tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom which is presented in the article “Phone-Hacking Suits against News Corp. Rise” on the Wall Street Journal as being involved in interception the mail messages of famous politicians and celebrities which led to the legal increasing legal suits by the victims whose right to privacy was violated by the company. The company was closed as a result of the infringement of the individual rights to privacy. Most of the victims of the mail tapping incidences of the News of the World were compensated by the company for the damage of their reputation. The News Corp which owns the weekly newspaper admitted to be liable in some of the cases and apologized for infringement of privacy rights of the victims (Bryan-Low, 2011). It is further alleged that the newspaper was also targeting the voice mails of the September 11 terrorist attack victims. The News of the world was also alleged to be involved in payment the Unite Kingdom Police as a way of preventing investigation into the mail interception by the tabloid newspaper.
The question that results from the actions of the News of the World is whether it is proper for a large company like News Corp to intercept voice mails of individuals and relay the information to the general public. This demonstrates an ethical issue within the company’s activities which is demonstrated by the misuse of private information of people causing great damage to their reputation and violation of their rights to privacy. Moreover the information on conversations of the victims with their associates was illegally accessed by the company and used as a way of promoting readership of its newspaper. The use of the private information through disclosure of the private life of individuals to the general public led to damage of the reputation of some of the victims. Some victims were faced with domestic disputes with their spouses and family as a result of disclosure of the information by the newspaper. This is what led to the civil suit against the newspaper to cover for the damages that were done to the victims through misuse of their personal information. The newspaper aimed at using the intercepted information as a tool of increasing the dales of its weekly production hence make more profits through the malicious publication in disregard of the rights of individuals which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights
From the perspective of a business person, the issue of breaking the legal rights has dire consequences. In this case the News of the World was closed as a result of the civil suits against it by the victims and the violation of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Businesses usually try all means to make profits. The newspaper in this case wanted to sell as many copies of the print as possible because the target audience within the public loves the malicious content in tabloids especially on politicians and celebrities. However the business strategy that involves the breaking of the law cannot be justified. In addition, the company has paid millions of dollars as compensation of the victims which amounts to a great loss to the News Corp. The ethical issue could have been kept at bay by the business if investigative journalism was involved without intercepting or taping into the voice mails of the victims.
From the societal point of view, the demands of the public for information and entertainment were being met by the newspaper. The tabloids usually have a bigger readership as compared to the serious newspapers such as those on business news and the journals. In this case, the society enjoyed learning things about the politicians and the celebrities involved at the expense of the News of the World’s business loss. On the other hand, the members of the society who have been victims of the newspaper’s publications have been affected negatively because of the wrong doing done to tem in terms of damaged reputation and loss of their human rights. This justifies why they opted for the legal suit so that the company would compensate them. However it is possible that many members of the society would be sympathizers of the newspaper especially those who love the malicious content within the tabloid newspapers.
The egoism ethical theory supports the fact that each person aims at his or her own welfare (Schmid, 2010). From the case presented in the article, the victims’ welfare was violated through the misuse of the information gathered on them and placing it on the public domain. The News of the World on the other hand was influenced by its own welfare of making more profit by increasing the sales of its newspaper through sensational publications on the scandalous lives of celebrities and politicians. The readership of the News of the World also was interested in being entertained by the news on famous people. The welfare of the government authorities and the judicial system was to uphold the rule of law which led to the demand for compensation of the victims and the closure of the weekly tabloid. It can therefore be argued that the diverse welfares and interests of the various stakeholders within this case led to the differing opinions and disagreements that are evident in the article. The egoism theory would thus justify the pursuit of the newspaper for information because it was in favor of its interests. However the breaking of the legal rights of the victims was wrong a demonstrated by the consequences of the paper’s actions. Moreover, the pursuit for compensation by the victims in this case is justified even though their reputation would have been damaged already.
From the view of the relativism theory of business ethics, the actions of various groups within the case are relative to other factors (Schnapper, 2009). The justification of the News of the World to intercept the voice messages of the celebrities and politicians is relative to the needed of the audience for sensational information. However the newspaper disregarded the moral principals of business operations. According to the views of the theory of relativism, the truth of a specific issue is relative to culture. The culture of the readership of the tabloid newspaper was to be provided with scandalous information about various people. The newspaper was popular because of its publications of controversies within the society hence the cultural basis of the society influenced the move of the newspaper to acquire information through illegal means. The action of the newspaper is relative to the European Convention on Human Rights and this explains why the authorities and the legal system took the action of compelling the company to compensate the victims and closing its business functions.
The subjectivism theory provides views of ethics as experiences that are subject to various measures and the law (Buchanan & Vanberg, 2002). This theory is demonstrated by the measures taken against the company for violating the legal provisions on individual rights of privacy. The damage caused by the company on the victims is measured in terms of the compensation paid to them by the company. However, the compensation may not be equivalent to the social implications of the disclosed information on the victims.
The action of the News of the World to intercept mail messages of various famous people who include politicians and celebrities led to legal suit against the News Corp leading to compensation of the victims and closure of the weekly tabloid newspaper. The issue of the violation of the rights of individuals to privacy as provided by the European Convention on Human Rights by the News Corp causes an ethical issue of conducting business. This is because the company was not justified to illegally acquire information o individuals and put it in public domain. The reputation of the victims was damaged leading to legal compensation and closure of the newspaper. The ethical theories of egoism, relativism, subjectivism demonstrates various points of view on the issue which aims at explaining the justification of the actions taken by the stakeholders of the legal cases against the company.
Bryan-Low, C. (2011). Corporate news: Phone-hacking suits against news corp. rise. Wall
Street Journal, pp. B.3-B.3.
Buchanan, J., & Vanberg, V. (2002). Constitutional implications of radical subjectivism.
Review of Austrian Economics, 15(2-3), 121-129
Schnapper, D. (2009). Relativism. Society, 46(2), 175-179.
Schmid, H. (2010). Philosophical egoism: Its nature and limitations. Economics and
Philosophy, 26(2), 217-240.