Rhetorical Ethics

The question of whether journalists or private philanthropists have a greater responsibility to rhetorical ethics requires an examination…? David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea demonstrates the power of a private philanthropist in using emotional appeals and embellishments of truth to convince the public into giving money to a charity—in this case, the Central Asia Institute (CAI). On the other hand, an analysis of John Krakauer’s rhetoric in Three Cups of Deceit proves that investigative journalists, unlike private philanthropists, have a responsibility to truthfully represent events within their writing. The principles of journalism mandate ethical journalists to write based on factual information because there exists …show more content…
Credibility gives a journalist precedent with the public—people are more likely to believe a writer with an established reputation of factual reporting. Cuddy argues that prior to forming an opinion on the argument, the audience will decide whether the messenger is credible—“before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you” (Cuddy et al. 59). Powerful arguments are subverted by the character of the author—for instance, no matter the future content of his writing, nobody will take seriously the work of a journalist such as Stephen Glass, rising-star turned disgraced writer and failed lawyer (Grimminck). John Krakauer, author of exposés such as Three Cups of Deceit and Under the Banner of Heaven, contrasts with individuals such as Stephen Glass and demonstrates the importance of credibility. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, which examines the cult-like practices within the Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, was well received by critics, with the New York Times calling “almost every section of the book . . . fascinating in its own right” (Wright). An ethical journalist, therefore, has a responsibility to truthfully report on situations because existing credibility may be used to mislead the public. Krakauer’s precedent as a truthful writer partly contributed to the $17 million drop in donations to the Central Asia Institute in the two years following the publication of Three Cups of Deceit (Krakauer 104). A respected journalist holds a level of authority within his writing—because we believed him in the past, we tend to give the benefit of the doubt in the future. While Krakauer used his influence for a seemingly benevolent aim, unscrupulous journalists might not abide by an ethical

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