New Study Suggests—Journalists Are Less Morally Developed than They Were 13 Years Ago.

John Ryu Bargayo, Staff Writer

Are journalists less morally developed than they were before?

Journalist cartoon     Patrick Ferrucci is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. For the last 15 years, Ferrucci’s main research interest was about the nature of journalistic identity.

“A couple of years ago, while reading The Atlantic, I read an article about a study done in Europe that used identity priming with Wall Street folks. It sounded super interesting and cool so it got me thinking about how I could run a similar experiment with journalists,” said Ferrucci, and so, alongside his colleagues, he conducted a moral reasoning test that was done on 171 journalists.

The test was a set of ethical dilemmas and respondents were asked to rank the dilemmas according to how important they are when decision making. The respondents also were not primed with their professional identity. When looking at results the researchers discovered that journalists are above average in terms of moral development. It also showed no difference between journalists who were reminded of their occupation and those who were not.  When conducting the same research today, researchers discovered that journalists have scored lower in the tests. The results are still considered high or above average in terms of moral development, but they are lessening.

      The current theory behind the reasoning for this is the lack of socialization in the industry. Studies suggest that experience and stimulating social interactions are predictive of higher levels of moral reasoning. Ferrucci and his team are continuing to conduct a wider experiment with more people to understand what is truly happening.