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2013 Thomas J. Masterson Ethics Essay Competition


DOOMED: Ethics and Subway Journalism

DEADLINE: This case analysis essay competition will end on Sunday, June 30, 2013, OR as soon as the first fifty (50) qualified submissions are received – whichever comes first. So, best to submit sooner rather than later! [NOTE: All participants will be notified well before the fall semester starts].

AWARDS: There are now ten (10) awards (way up from just 3 or 5 in prior years) totaling $12,500. Awards will range from $500 to a first place award for $5,000!! Winners will have their scholarship awards applied directly to their JMU student accounts (half in fall semester 2013; remainder in early spring semester 2014)!!

To participate in the Thomas J. Masterson (TJM) Ethics Essay Competition, you must submit a cover sheet and a Case Analysis Essay: an analysis of a compelling business ethics-related news story case (see “Doomed” news story below). For the first time in this competition, participants will benefit from applying an ethical reasoning framework in their case analysis – the newly developed JMU Eight Key Questions – developed by JMU faculty members across campus for JMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (click on this LINK).

THIS YEAR’S NEWS STORY CASE – “DOOMED”: A photojournalist (R. Umar Abbasi) watches as a man is pushed onto a New York City subway track. Instead of attempting to help the man off of the tracks, he chooses to snap photos of the scene to – in his words – try to alert (with his camera flash) the subway driver of the situation. Others standing nearby also do not attempt to lift the man off of the tracks (instead choosing to frantically wave at the subway driver). The New York Post then uses one of Mr. Abbasi’s photos as the cover photo with the following headline: “DOOMED: Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.”

NOTE: this year there is no provided case; rather, research this story at this Google Images link (click HERE; if link doesn’t activate, apply the following search terms in Google Images: nypost cover doomed subway Abassi Ki Suk Han). To access stories and videos related to this news story, click on some of the cover images, select “visit page” (to read the story with the image you selected), and then read a few of the stories related to this news story (and also consider watching a few of the related videos).

GUIDELINES for analyzing this news story case
: Your case analysis should address several issues, including (not necessarily in this order; combine however you wish): 

a) Ethical Situation Identification: Provide a clear statement of the ethical situation(s) or
    dilemma(s) in this case

b) Stakeholder Analysis: Identification of the primary stakeholders in this case and how
    they are affected (e.g., how benefitting; how harmed).

Important: while clearly there are non-business related ethical issues you will articulate, make sure you also analyze the business-related issues pertinent to this case.

c) Ethical Reasoning Analysis using the JMU Eight Key Questions: Analysis of the ethical
   dilemma(s) using the newly developed “JMU Eight Key Questions”
   (Click on this link > 8KQs); apply as many of the 8KQs as you feel appropriate.

Other guidelines/issues:

-    Word limit: 1,500 words (maximum). Note: to easily check the total number of words in
      an MS Word document, see bottom left corner below the document.

-    Formatting: Use 12 point font; single-space the entire paper; indent each paragraph 5
     spaces; use one-inch margins (top, bottom, and sides); please do not type in any
     headers or footers; and do not put page numbers on the pages.

-   Competition judges will certainly consider the guidelines specified above, but also
     writing skills
, adherence to directions, and clearly stated and logical argumentation.

In addition, please heed the following:

  • This is individual work. It must be done on your own (i.e., without any help from anyone) and pledged by the James Madison University Honor Code. By completing the cover page (with your typed name and a date) along with your case analysis essay in an email attachment, you are promising that you have completed this work alone and that you abide by the JMU Honor Code.
  • Although there is no requirement to cite any of your sources, do feel free to do so if in some way it helps your essay. 
  • Scoring criteria. The case analysis will be scored by several COB faculty members and JMU alums based on the criteria set forth in this document.
  • Note: The top ten submissions will be notified and asked to submit a Personal Statement – more on that if your case analysis essay is selected!!


TO DO: Combine your completed cover sheet (at link below) and your case analysis in the same file. Separate the cover sheet from your case analysis by a page break (Insert > Break > Page Break). THEN submit your file electronically as an email attachment to Dr. Bob Kolodinsky (Dr. K) at kolodirw@jmu.edu.

Download the COVER SHEET  for the ethics essay statement by clicking HERE.


Email Dr. Bob Kolodinsky (Dr. K) at kolodirw@jmu.edu
Competition Coordinator and Director: Gilliam Center for Free Enterprise and Ethical Leadership