Tag Archives: ethics

Blog Essay Class 11

Re: Josephi’s article about journalism in the global age – The readings from this week were particularly interesting because I am pretty fascinated by censorship and media ethics, particularly in other countries. In this article, Josephi outlined the 3 elements comprising a shift that is breaking down the accepted norms/theories of journalism. The 3 elements of this shift are “call[ing] an end to romancing democracy,” globalization, and the increasing gap between theory and practice (particularly concerning “objectivism”). According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement? I think that western media is dominated by infotainment and lots of interpretation, but superficial interpretation. The ubiquitous presence of “talking heads” and pundits only amplifies this. 

The article goes on to discuss literacy as a markers for later development of media and journalism (p. 582). The newspaper readership trends present in other countries persist even today. Typically, newspapers were thought to be reserved for the elite, urban and highly-educated members of society (especially in Mediterranean countries). 

Re: media ethics beyond borders – This article (by our own Dr. Rodgers, no less!) talked about the implications of a press release from our own university about microwaving a sponge to kill microbes and bacteria. This information ended up having dangerous repercussions because people didn’t wet the sponge before microwaving it, thus starting a fire. Despite the fact that this article discusses media ethics, I don’t think the writers of the UF press release intended to do any harm, they just left out an important piece of the puzzle. However, harm is still harm and it reminds me of the SPJ code of ethics: Minimize harm. Journalism that intentionally or unintentionally harms readers/audience is obviously not good journalism and not the ideal we are going for. The example of the UF/sponge press release fits under a couple of the ethical issues below:

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

1. Seek Truth and Report it

2. Minimize Harm

3. Act Independently

4. Be Accountable

 

Dr. Rodgers makes a good point that bears repeating– that these media guidelines were developed in the “predigital” age. Things have clearly changed a great deal since those guidelines were first developed, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted to what degree the digital age would completely revolutionize our world and mass media at large. 

Re: Ch. 19 – Rhee discussed the fact that some Korean journalists shared political views with some high-ranking government officials and eventually left journalism to join politics. This is a definite ethical concern, but think about how many ties our media organizations and journalists here in the States have to political groups. What about the Koch brothers, which we were just talking about in class last week? How do political agendas and groups influence the content and business decisions of a newspaper/media organization? Warren Buffett also owns a sizable amount of newspapers in Virginia among other places (here’s an article I submitted to the Media is Plural Tumblr). I tried to read this chapter by comparing and contrasting it to media in other countries. I think this practice of politically-involved press/journalists is widespread and common. It has a great deal to do with financial incentives and corporate ownership. Coupled with the fact that in today’s world, print media doesn’t enjoy the widespread circulation/popularity that it used to (by virtue of being replaced by digital media), these newspapers really can’t afford to turn away the big-name sponsorships.

The chapter also says that at one time, Korean journalists were more concerned with being publicists/advocates (p. 351) than providers of factual information. It reminds me of the problem we have here in the U.S., where some “articles” resemble press releases and vice versa and it almost becomes impossible at times to tell the two apart. How could this practice be harmful to the public? With certain topics such as those that are scientifically or health-related, this “press release” style can influence people to change their behaviors and purchases to fit some new information they read, but in reality it may not be completely true–or could be spinned by public relations professionals.

Keeping in mind the earlier reading about news media in 18th century Paris, I remembered that obtaining the latest news in Paris during this time meant going to the Tree of Cracow in the middle of the city. Newspapers were banned by the government, so news was delivered by street singers and poets, also known as “nouvellistes de bouche” (gossipers/newsmongers).

The two societies are similar in the way that both governments exerted power over the media. The power of the press then fell into the hands of the people, like in 18th century Paris when the people made it their responsibility to deliver and disseminate the news orally because of a newspaper ban. In Korea, citizens “relied on Internet media as a main source of information and opinion. Readers and writers on the internet could have access to diverse sources and channels of news” (p. 362). The digital media, particularly the internet, has empowered the Korean people, much in the same manner that the oral news traditions empowered the French.

DQs:

According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Link

Re: Ethics, Morality and Children

I read this article on WSJ today – it goes along with the overarching theme of ethics and morality – but on a childrens’ level. Concern with the way in which the media affects children and vice versa was also a topic that was touched on in Gauntlet’s piece.

“The line between right and wrong in the classroom is often hazy for young children, and shaping the moral compass of children whose brains are still developing can be one of the trickiest jobs a parent faces.”

Social media and the digital age is perhaps inspiring children to cheat more, because access to information is more readily obtained. Furthermore, the often-blurred lines between what constitutes as plagiarism remains unclear to some children.

“More schools are allowing cellphones in classrooms, expanding opportunities to cheat via text message, photos or stored notes. And research shows that while most fifth-graders know that copying words off the Internet is cheating, many don’t understand “exactly how much is too much to pull from a source, and how to paraphrase information,” says Kimberly Gilbert, an associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.”

Blog Essay Class 2

The film Rashomon taught us that truth isn’t always the same thing for every person. People may see and subsequently process events differently. This reminded me of a real-life classic example of this – the murder of Kitty Genovese in NYC in 1964. Witnesses to the event had differing accounts, or were simply participants in what is known as the Bystander Effect.

In the article by Adam et al., the authors make sure to separate the two ideas and intertwine them with discussions of democracy, ethics and morality, authorship and craft. If I could think of one question to summarize this reading, it would be: Are the media and journalism the same thing? The answer, however, is not as simple as the question.

As a former undergraduate English literature major, I especially enjoyed the quote by Lillian Ross of The New Yorker: “Every now and then,” she said, “journalism has been found to be timeless; and its writers have been considered to be on a par with the best in literature” (Adams et al., p. 239). We forget that we have a moral obligation – and the desire to “entertain” (p. 248) trumps our need to deliver information that is factual, but also “concerned with…governance and social understanding” (p. 248).

A major focus of the article was democracy. “Journalists as authors have duties as citizens to other citizens—to speak to them in their own language, to make wise news judgments, and to be empirical, forthright, honest, independent, eloquent, thoughtful, and reliable” (p. 250).

After reading this article, I am left to think: How did we get so far away from these pure and morally correct premises? If one is to survey the state of the mainstream news media today, how many of those tenets are actually being adhered to? Close to none. Democracy is a fine concept, but is it too idealistic for journalism done in a world of competing corporate interests? Professors in this college remind us that mainstream media is, at the end of the day, a business. Thus, are we expecting too much?

The discussion of facts was vital, as summed up by Hersey’s quote about the “one sacred rule of journalism… the writer must not invent” (p. 252). In the Preface section, the authors address “journalism students” directly. I think that this should be a required piece of reading for undergrads—many of who don’t fully understand the seriousness of truth and avoidance of any falsification. They just don’t understand the severity of punishment it can bring—cases of inaccuracies or just plain falsifications, like NYT’s Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. When I teach, I tell my students that the course policy is to deduct 50 points for fact errors. They moan and complain whenever they make a mistake. But I am quick to remind them that it’s better to lose 50 points on an assignment now than to lose your job and blow your whole career later. I think the concept of ethics is a foreign concept to people of my generation. Exacerbated by the fast-paced landscape of the digital world and social media, ethics just doesn’t register high on the priority list. We’re used to posting something and deleting it if we made a mistake or things don’t go as planned. That is why Adams and his colleagues said, “to write well and truly is to be clear and faithful to the truth of the facts, of the news, of a situation, or of life itself. The pathways to such truth and clarity are not easily followed.”

I found out in reading Carey’s piece that communication transmission originated in religion (p. 15), which makes sense considering its “ritualistic” nature (p. 18). It reminds me of the inherent sense of bureaucratic privilege that is associated with religion – there is one preacher, priest, or spiritual leader that is in charge of delivering a divine word, and everyone else is just a listener. This view is refuted by Carey, who says the ritualistic view of communication “downplays the role of the sermon… in order to highlight the role of the prayer” (p. 18). So essentially, it isn’t the medium that matters most, but the message.

Carey buttresses his arguments with discussion of a ruling class and class interactions. It reminds me of knowledge gap theory, which claims people of lower socioeconomic status (SES) have less access and use for mass media. For poor populations particularly, “the mass media are not viewed as providers of useful information” (Chatman & Pendleton, 2010, p. 135).

When David Gauntlett wrote “Ten things wrong with the media effects model,” he was clearly impatient with the lack of clarity when it comes to audiences and media effects. His piece basically turns social science research by people like Bandura on its head. When it comes to youth consumption of violent media, the commonly prescribed solution was to eliminate that type of media because it was thought to be harmful and a powerful impetus to promoting violent behavior. Gauntlett says we shouldn’t be eliminating this type of media because there is no effect. What is a viable solution, then? Though I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in his piece, he raises many good points that got me thinking – particularly in his section about conservative ideologies (section 3): “A broader conservative project to position the more contemporary and challenging aspects of the mass media, rather than other social factors, as the major threat to social stability today.” It’s true – we really love pegging one thing as the end-all-be-all of a certain behavior. In my current thesis research on media portrayals of NFL athlete suicides, I’m finding out that the media love that “magic solution.” They want to say that depression, or divorce, or substance abuse or concussions was the factor that caused the athlete to end his life. But we must remember that, as Gauntlet said, there are multiple factors to each problem and/or issue.

DQ: How can we motivate people to consume media outside of their own personal tastes? i.e., how can we get people to move past the consistency theory and consuming media that “gratifies” a certain need? 

*Nota bene: On an unrelated note, I am finding it to be very thrilling to be able to express my true personal opinion when reading these scholarly works. Many times we feel afraid to criticize or bring in our personal experiences and opinions because it’s seen as less credible than simply restating facts from the literature at hand. As journalists, we are taught to uphold the principles of objectivity and un-biasedness, when it’s not even clear what those concepts really mean. I am glad I get the opportunity in this class to provide my take on current media and journalism-related issues and concepts. 🙂

But for concerns about truth and accuracy, this is a good place to start.

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu