Communication ethics

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Communication ethics is the notion that an individual's or group's behavior are governed by their morals which in turn affects communication. Generally speaking communication ethics deals with the moral good present in any form of human communication. This includes interpersonal communication, mass mediated communication, and digital communication.


Communication ethics concerns not only the individual, but is of great concern to businesses, corporations, and professional entities. A business with unethical communication practices is not as effective as one with ethical communication practices. For example, a business with unethical communication practices [1] may withhold evidence that it is harming the environment or breaking a law through a lack of transparence; while a business with ethical communication practices will immediately press a release to the affected parties.[2][3] In this example, transparency makes the business more effective because it notifies its clients, prospective or established, providers/suppliers, or other affiliates of the potential environmental hazard or law violation. In other words, in this example, transparency will encourage trust and good faith, that the effective business will not conceal what is in the interest of its audience.[4] For the sake of counterexample, there may be a time when censorship is the more effective business practice: take the case of trade secrets,[5] when a design method or management tactic is not openly revealed in the name of competitive advantage;[6] or when terms of agreement/use that a business may have with a service provider forbids transparency. In the latter counterexample, a business may use social media to advertise, but the social media service provider may limit the conduct of its users. Here, if the business considers social media to be a valuable service to achieve its advertising, it may have to censor its product or service to preserve its agreement with the social media provider.[7]

Communication ethics is also a division [8] of the NCA (National Communication Association) which was established by Western Michigan University in 1985,[9] as well the NCA has adopted a Credo for Ethical Communication.[10] The Communication Ethics Conference has been held every year for the last 13 years, and has various speakers from Communication Studies backgrounds.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Police Who Suppress Free Speech".
  2. ^ "Surgeon General on Tobacco".
  3. ^ "Fearless, Adversarial Journalism".
  4. ^ "Locking In Public Access to Scientific Knowledge by Unlocking Scholarly Research".
  5. ^ "Amendment to Economic Espionage Act".
  6. ^ "Free Software Foundation Privacy Policy".
  7. ^ "Facebook Terms of Agreement".
  8. ^ NCA. "Communication Ethics Division".
  9. ^ "SCA Communication Ethics Commission - Newsletter" (PDF).
  10. ^ "NCA Credo" (PDF).

Ethical communication encompasses being honest in all communitcations, keeping confidential information confidential,and not discussing the personal or business situations of others in public or in front of a third party