>> Case Study
Is It Ethical to Use Subversive Approaches To Influence Others?
"Last week, National Public Radio's chief executive [Vivian Schiller] and senior fundraiser Ron Schiller resigned after off-the-cuff remarks were made to conservative activ¬ists posing as potential donors." The Schillers are unrelated. The potential donors, headed by James O'Keefe, met with Ron Schiller at a posh restaurant for lunch under the guise that they wanted to donate $5 million as repre-sentatives from a Muslim organization. O'Keefe secretly recorded the interview and later released a doctored video clip that portrayed NPR in a very bad light. Schiller made negative and damaging comments about the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party in particular. You can imagine how this video was received by politicians, particularly those who vote on funding for National Public Radio (NPR).
A reporter from the Washington Post described the video as "selective and deceptive:" He stated that "O'Keefe% final product excludes explanatory context, exaggerates [Ron] Schiller's tolerance for Islamist radicalism and attributes sentiments to Schiller that are actually quotes by others-all the hallmarks of a hit piece?' The reporter concluded that "O'Keefe did not merely leave a false impression; he manu-factured an elaborate The stingers bought access with fake money. There is no ethical canon or tradition that would excuse such deception on the part of a professional journalist
The video led some government officials to call for major, if not total funding cuts to NPR, which would threaten the organization's very existence. The end result is that the US. Senate voted in March 2011 to block public radio stations from spending federal money on programming. It appears that O'Keefe's attempts at influence had some success.
Not everyone agrees that O'Keefe did anything wrong. Some think that subversive techniques are a good way to keep people accountable. After all, TV programs such as 20/20 have used hidden cameras for years to catch peo¬ple doing bad things. The subversive trend is growing. For example, "[Title subversive approach has become so popular that the Yes Men, anti-corporate jokers who have made two critically acclaimed movies, recently opened the Yes Lab, which trains others in the art of dirty work!' Mike Bonanno, who cofounded Yes Men, concluded that "with mainstream media being defended, there is less real reporting out there and more people are resorting to these kind of tactics to get the work out on stuff that should b obvious. Further, "O'Keefe defenders contend he is no really a journalist but a new breed of 'citizen journalist. This can be defined as the simultaneous demands for jour¬nalistic respect and for release from journalistic standards, including a commitment to honesty.
What Do You Think Should Be Done about James O'Keefe?
1. Although O'Keefe did not violate any laws, he should be punished. His behavior was unethical. He lied about his identity to Ron Schiller and edited the video to present false impressions about NPR. His subversive actions also led to a negative vote about funding for public radio.
2. didn't break any laws, so he should be left alone. He actually is providing service to the public.
What Should Be Done about Citizen Journalism?
3. Given today's technology, we need regulations to govern this aspect of modem life. If people like James O'Keefe want to do journalistic work on their own, then they should be held to the same standards as professionals.
4. Wake up and smell the coffee. The only way to expose people like Ron Schiller is to use subversive tech¬niques. I have no problem with what O'Keefe did. Besides, others are doing the same thing.
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The present case is dealing with the behavioral malpractice that leads to present false impression (public image) to the community. Here, the concept is based on the activity of O’Keefe, who is not engaged in any offensive or out-of-law related task. On the contrary, the offensive perception is linked with the behavioral aspect of O’Keefe.
Evidence in this regard, which support this fact are that he presented a fake identity, and he talked with different motivation during the lunch session. Similarly, he also made a video of the session, with the consent or knowledge of other members, which he later altered to present a wrong image.
Of course many people in the society can comply with the statement that the activity of O’Keefe is not offensive since he submitted a fact to the society without violating any law. Thus, in such a condition there is no question arising for punishment.