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COM 468 Weeks 1 and 2 notes

by: Taylor McAvoy

COM 468 Weeks 1 and 2 notes Com 468

Taylor McAvoy
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Welcome to Fall quarter of Media Ethics! These notes cover the first three lectures of weeks 1 and 2. Check back with me at the end of every week for updates and new lecture notes. I will also be u...
Media Ethics
Class Notes
Media, media ethics, religion, history, philosophy, ethics, journalism




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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taylor McAvoy on Friday October 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Com 468 at University of Washington taught by UNDERWOOD,DOUGLAS M in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 105 views. For similar materials see Media Ethics in Journalism and Mass Communications at University of Washington.

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Date Created: 10/07/16
COM468A Media Ethics Professor Doug Underwood Weeks 1 and 2 Notes Week 1 Lecture 1 Thursday, September 29, 2016 If your ethics line up with self interest, take a closer look at your ethics- it is a human tendency to justify ourselves The potter box approach to ethical decision making Define the situation: The facts Choose loyalties ↓ ↑ Identify Values → Select principles Define Situation: The facts - is this an ethical dilema? It might not be what it seems Religion and philosophy can sometimes be applied to ethical dilemas Golden mean- Solution with compromise- you can meet ethical concerns of both sides and meet in the middle EX: King Solomon was known as a wise man and problem solver. One day, two women came to him each claiming that this one baby was their own. To solve the dispute Solomon said that the baby will be split in half and each can have half. One woman agreed while the other said no and that the other woman could have the baby. Concerned with the child's welfare. Solomon concluded that the one who would give up her child to save it was the real mother. Possible values 1. Honesty 2. Integrity 3. Promise-keeping 4. Fidelity 5. Fairness 6. Balance 7. Empathy (sympathy and caring for others) 8. Respect for others 9. Responsible citizenship 10. Pursuit of excellence 11. Accountability 12. Credibility Possible loyalties 1. Society 2. Industry 3. Employer 4. Self/career 5. Public's right to know 6. Journalism as watchdog 7. Journalistic mission 8. Shareholders of media company 9. Feelings of audience 10. Religious sensibilities of audience 11. Sensibility of non-religious in audience 12. Professional reputation Three philosophical ideas/principles 1. French journalist and philosopher- Voltaire "I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" 2. Poet and Pamphlet writer- John Milton 1600's - In an equal contest between Truth and falsehood, we can trust Truth to prevail- Marketplace of opinion 3. Utilitarianism- Mill- The greatest good for the greatest number of people is the best policy to pursue- prior restraint Week 2 Lecture 2 Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Hand out at the beginning of class Potter box and possible values and loyalties (see Lecture 1) Major ethical principles in religion 1. Golden rule (reciprocity ethics) 2. Hebrew scriptures (Ten commandments; eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth) 3. Ethical teachings of Jesus (Love thy neighbor as thyself; be ready to sacrifice self for principle/ spirit over the letter of the law/think outside the cultural box) 4. Medieval concepts of Christianity (Be fearful of God's punishment/heaven and hell) 5. Ethical codes from other faiths (first duty is to Allah, Duty is to the collective) 6. Karma- somehow or other you will be rewarded or punished by your actions by a transcendent force 7. Prophetic journalism (Role of the press is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable) Additional principles: 1. Laws of nation 2. Industry codes of ethics 3. Professional or employer codes of conduct 4. Journalistic conscience 5. Public's right to know 6. Do no harm Major ethical principles in philosophy 1. Plato: to know the good is to do the good/ ideal Greek citizen/ philosopher king 2. Aristotle: Golden mean/ individual over collective 3. Milton: self-righting principle > marketplace of ideas (Oliver Wendell Holmes) 4. Locke: Natural rights/ reason is God-given path to truth/ Majority rule/ property is good 5. Hobbes: Security is better than anarchy/ people are selfish, brutish and violent/ importance of leviathan 6. Hume: value of skepticism/ selflessness is an innate trait 7. Machiavelli: success is what counts/ ends justifies the means 8. Rousseau: general will versus will of all/ faith in the people/ romantic faith in individual/ property is bad 9. Mill: Utilitarianism/ libertarianism (I should be free to do what I want as long as it doesn't impose on your liberty)/ danger of thought conformity 10. Kant: Categorical imperative/ importance of duty/ means over ends 11. Nietzsche: overman or superman/ beware of majority/ personal creation of values 12. Confucius: Emphasis on value of social unit/ social stability/ respect for authority and hierarchy 13. James: pragmatism (truth seeking is a process, never an absolute) 14. Hegel: dialectical process 15. Marx: From each according to ability, to each according to need/ emphasis upon collective/ ends justify the means 16. Existentialists (Camus, Sarte, Jaspars): Importance of individual authenticity and autonomy in the face meaningless universe/ value the rebel/ change self as way to change society Ethical Frameworks 1. Freedom versus security 2. Individual liberty (libertarianism versus social responsibility/ communitarianism) 3. Democracy versus authority 4. Optimism about (trust in) human nature versus pessimism (cynicism) about human nature 5. Absolute truth versus relative truth 6. Liberalism versus conservatism Constantine used violence despite prohibition of it in the bible Religious and Christian figures still used violence Arch Bishops gathered around him and encouraged him to rule with violence Christian and Jewish tenants influenced the west and parts of Africa and Asia- still influence journalism ethics The US is a country of empire We celebrate thanksgiving as a day of sharing a feast with native people but we don’t tend to recognize the broken treaties and conquest of their land The constitution was written by the winners The English background and ethical values reflect journalism values today from the roots Value system starts to become global ethics International law is often enforced by the winner EX: bombs on japan in strategy to win the war No culture will endorse murder and the values line up with religion Religious values get embedded and become almost global Religion vs culture How does the golden rule make it to religions other than Christian? Reciprocity ethics Religion → culture → anthropology → reciprocity → common sense Common law comes before Christianity From the very beginning of people living together they had to come up with a system and fabric of cooperation The golden rule preceded religions It is rooted in idealism and practicality Idealism- Empathy Practicality- reciprocity, works for both parties Religion embraced the golden rule How do we apply larger ethical value systems to religion EX: Don’t steal  Can be seen as practically enforcing a logical way to live with people and gets embedded into religious tradition Regardless of religion, most know the consequences for stealing and cheating When religion diminishes, do the ethical value systems diminish too? Ethical value sources  Religion  Law  Civil religion  Its possible not to embrace religion but still hold the value system Core values precede religion and influence culture Journalism absorbed values of ethical principles EX: Public school vs Catholic school and teaching of values Focus of class: religious values and ethics history Focusing on the why and how 10 commandments 1. You shall have no other gods before me 2. You shall worship no idols 3. You shall not take the lord's name in vain 4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy 5. Honor your father and your mother 6. You shall not murder 7. You shall not commit adultery 8. You shall not steal 9. You shall bear no false witness 10. You shall not covet Journalists take 8 and 9 very seriously Lying and stealing are fire-able offenses and extremely damaging to credibility Golden rule is at the core of values in many other religions and ethics EX: In journalism its do no harm Golden rule encompasses other rules like don't steal or harm others It is a contract between people and society- its worth it to give up the freedom of hurting or stealing from someone so that they don't do it to you Mainstream media questions Trump's values toward a civil society Variations of strict scripture and variable scripture Hebrew scriptures- 10 commandments  Reinforce reciprocity ethics  New testament became an evangelical movement  The New testament was written by people who didn't know Jesus's miracles first hand and were telling stories about the community  The cultural viewpoint was changing as Christianity spread Mathew- Jesus gave discussion of values - Sermon on the Mount It was a refinement of ethical values and scripture The golden rule spoke to no violence and seemed to contradict a lot of other Hebrew scriptures about violence Parables were the main way to teach  Folk stories and conclusions that went outside the cultural understanding- outside the box and considered radical Week 2 Lecture 3 Thursday, October 6, 2016 Jesus's time was changing with the changing technology of communication and philosophical thought The Greeks influenced the Roman empire with their Gods, philosophy, language and forms of communication Society was very layered- only the top people were literate Jesus was born into a Jewish culture and was under kings who agreed to rule under the Roman Empire Socrates, Plato, Aristotle- Poetry, ethics, science Socratic method- one on one dialogue- teaching and education was only available to the elite Socrates was illiterate in the sense that he could not read or write - he defended this in that reading and writing would ultimately lead to us forgetting our roots of storytelling and forgetfulness The culture before him was based upon memorization of real and mythical figures and stories that were told orally with poetry and music The Odessy's author Homer was not one person, rather a collection of poets and storytellers Plato was Socrates's pupil and of a new generation who loved to read and write- literate Historical Irony- the only way we know so much about Socrates and his views on writing are based on how much his student Plato wrote about him and their dialogues The Hebrews embraced writing early on before Jesus's time and kept sacred documents These documents instructed Jews to maintain separateness from other cultures and religions They believed in a monotheistic god, different from Baal If they mixed with other religions, their relationship with God would be compromised Reading became a more widely held skill than writing- writing was a specialized skill Paul- He was Hebrew born and trained in Roman Arts From Paul's letters- people kept them and interpreted them as Jesus as the coming god Paul's letters were powerful because they could be kept and sent and they argued in well written rhetoric for Jesus's teachings Spreading the good news- the letters became an evangelical movement Printing Press in 1400's- most important development in communication  This is why we have modern science and exploration  Printed accurate maps after explorers returned so others could build upon their work  Used imperial reasoning with discovery  Experiments, methods, findings, and conclusions were published  Spreading of knowledge was crucial to scientific advancement The 10 commandments are rooted in sense and universal values like the Golden rule as a logical way to live with people in a society Reciprocity ethics like these were built into cultures like Greek, Roman, Hebrew, and modified in Christianity Jesus gets crucified for ethical standards that are at odds with common culture People believe that there is something special about those ethics and being counter cultural Christianity was persecuted until Constantine embraced it and it became beneficial to be Christian To have a full relationship with god you have to sacrifice some things and parts of your life Culture in which media and journalism grew up in Key Points about ethics and religion 1. Ethical Codes can be seen as a part of a contract or compact with God  Journalism is sometimes at odds with common culture  Some values, principles, beliefs are larger than themselves  Commitment that’s different from other cultures 2. People or whole cultures can be expected to be rewarded or punished by God based on their ethical conduct  The idea that God rewards or punishes people on how well they follow God's rules 3. Written spiritual texts are meant to be guidelines to help individuals make ethical decisions  10 commandments- not just guidelines but expectations- Hebrew profits outside Jewish culture- against wealthy leaders  The Wealthy's treatment of the poor- interpret the reason the Jews were defeated because they rose to a certain power and didn’t follow God's commands- success lost touch with God  Jesus used parables to teach about ethics and his wisdom- oral folk tales that told a story and lesson about ethics and tolerance- appealed to the illiterate majority but ran counter to the culture of the time  EX: the Good Samaritan  Prophetic journalism  Muck-rakers- first stage of industrial age protest and expose of big business and industry with ethical values like Christianity  The role of the press is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable 4. Ethical decision-making by the individual is often done in tandem with prayer or other activities that rely upon a faith that God can help a person arrive at the right ethical decision  The ethical decision is inside- trust yourself that you know what's right 5. There is a stronger tension between the idea that ethical actions must follow strict codified guidelines or whether ethics can be determined through the conscience of the individual in relationship with God  The spirit of the law not the letter of the law  Consult your inner self and decide what the right thing to do is yourself 6. The most radical of religious values- love one's enemy, give away one's possessions to help the poor, be prepared to make great sacrifices for one's beliefs- are not routinely followed in mainstream culture, no matter what the professed religious beliefs of people  Emphasizes sacrifice potentially because main figure was sacrificed for them 7. There is great historical tension between religion as a radical, counter-culture movement and religion as it became part of the establishment structure  Christianity became mainstream cultural values 8. There is historical tension between the notion that ethical actions will be rewarded or punished in some real place (in heaven or hell) or whether that punishment (if it occurs) takes place in one's conscience  Powerful ethical tools of control- follow teachings and rule or be punished 9. The historical movement of ethics as part of religion is from authoritatively regulated ethical conduct (the middle ages) to ethical actions as part of the individual religious conscience (the protestant reformation) to ethics as something to be seen in more secular terms (our modern times)  Protestant reformation  Calvinism: 1600 movement- pay the church to improve relative's condition in the afterlife  Calvin- Swiss protestant- Variation of Luther - felt catholic teachings were inconsistent with the bible  Predestination- God already chose who will go to heaven or hell before they were born  Geneva Switzerland- capitalist operators embraced theology- the goal in life is to see and find evidence that you were one of the destined saved  Popular in business class because success was a marker of that salvation  Capitalism was intertwined with mass media  Lutherin and Calvin- core of protestant beliefs  To read the bible for themselves  Printing press facilitated this  Printing allowed colloquial languages that allowed common people to read the bible for themselves  Moves toward individualism and democracy 10. Many secular guidelines about ethical conduct rely upon religious traditions and codes but often don’t recognize it. This phenomenon has been called "civil religion" and it is often seen as operating strongly in American Culture  Constitution written and media founded when people accepted Christianity and it was the presumed religion  20th century separation of church and state to move religion out of public when public law and values still come from religion  Americans are more religious than most, especially Europe What media institutions were absorbed from religion, what value systems? Journalists often learn values through osmosis, experience in the newsroom Many prominent journalists were in less popular religions like Quaker, Jewish, Mormon


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