J 397 Week #1 Reading Notes
J 397 Week #1 Reading Notes J 397
Popular in Media Ethics
Popular in Department
This 13 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kaitlyn Endo on Wednesday October 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to J 397 at University of Oregon taught by Jennifer Schwartz in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views.
Reviews for J 397 Week #1 Reading Notes
Report this Material
What is Karma?
Karma is the currency of StudySoup.
You can buy or earn more Karma at anytime and redeem it for class notes, study guides, flashcards, and more!
Date Created: 10/12/16
WEEK 1 Chapter 1 What is Media Ethics? • Ethics and the Act of Communication o We distinctly do not, however, accept that that speech will or should be allowed to force us into a particular attitude or behavior through such methods as deception, coercion, carelessness, or even laziness • Ethics or Morals? o Ethics has come to be recognized as the study of concepts such as ought, should, duty, and so on, whereas moral tends to be attached to activities that are either good or bad an the rules that we develop to cover those activities o Some prefer to think of morals as being culturally transmitted indicators of right and wrong o Ethics is merely a way to determine what we ought to do o We tend to associate immorality with the Judeo-‐Chrisitan concept of sin and, because of the long-‐standing Puritan heritage within our culture, sin is most often equated with evil o Unethical has become a more acceptable term in our modern culture because it tends not to carry the connotation of evil doing; rather it is used most often to connote wrong doing o Ethical or unethical rather than moral or immoral seems to be a reflection of modernity and connotation rather than representative of any real differences in meaning o Wouldn’t be improbably to suggest that the words ethical and unethical would more likely be heard in newsrooms and media agencies than moral and immoral • The Media and Morality o We see ourselves in newscast, we wonder with commentators at the seeming increases in violence and other undesirable cultural trends, and we wonder with commentators at the seeming increases in violence and other undesirable cultural trends, and we increasingly enjoy ever speedier and flashier entertainment o They do reflect what we are right now, sometimes distilled so much as to be simply a caricature, but reflective none the less o They also constantly test our reactions to change, and back off only when it becomes unprofitable for them not to do so o Modern mass media are both reflective of that change and effective agents of it • Are the Media Prone to Ethical Dilemmas? o Why, then, do we seem to attach so much importance to what the media do? § First ethical dilemmas we face each day may not affect large numbers of people § Rationale used by nearly all forms of media is that they are performing a public service by adding to the marketplace of information § The notion that the media should perform a public service tends to set them apart from the rest of society and sets up an “us-‐tem” attitude that is not totally without basis • The Media Are Not Us o There is a school of thought that paints the news media, for instance, as the representative of the people, acting on their behalf in a watchdog function over govt and other public agencies. However that function is as much self serving as not. We must never foget that the media also operates within a capitalistic system, not just a democratic one, and that we purchase the news as much as we purchase any other commodity o The problem in understanding the place of the media in our democracy is that the media today are not constituted the same way that the media of our country’s founders envisioned o Objectivity became the driving goal of journalism o Media remain different from the people they serve o Decisions the media make today are not always on our behalf o The media are separate entities existing in a complete and competitive environment, and they can’t always afford to act in our best interest o They must of necessity, sometimes act in their own • Media Culture and the Clash of Priorities o We should not be surprised, then, that long-‐time media practitioners adhere, almost religiously, to principles and codes dervived from “real world” experience rather than any “ivory tower” contemplation o SPJ code was drafted by working journalists, the same as the major codes of both public relations and advertising were drafted by professionals in those areas o The key to understanding modern journalism is to realize that it operates within the context of organizational structures and routines, and that these structures and routines provide for what he calls “news sland”—the very way in which news is gathered and the routines of the process itself have had a detrimental effect on journalism o According to Entman, the media “are stymied on the demand side by the lack of public hunger for relevant info and on the supply side by overreliance on elite services and the industrial imperatives of efficiency and profits” o The hunt for great profit has led, in turn, to a need for efficiency, leading, finally, to a routine of dependency on whatever method of news gathering is easiest and fastest o Media laziness § The proliferation of magazine news programs on network television speaks directly to this approach. Hidden cameras, exposes, and other investigative techniques are very often the easiest methods of gathering some kinds of info and are often cheaper to produce and run than sitcoms and dramas, which are most often purchased from production companies § When the priority of news gathering becomes to get the story fst, the temptation is greater to shortcut not only the process but also an inclination to ponder troubling questions of ethicality à economic imperative may far outweigh the moral imperative • The Effects f Organizational Structure on Moral Decision Making o Responsibility could be defined as a bundle of obligations associated with a job or function o Responsibility refers to more than just the primary function of a role; it refers to the multiple facets of that function o Accountability refers to blaming or crediting someone for an action— normally an action associated with a recognized responsibility. The assumption, therefore, would be to hold a person who is responsible for an action accountable also for the results of that action o Job of news becomes undeniably complex when the news division is subsumed by a large, no news oriented org o When entertainment value is believed by non news people to supersede news value, the groundwork is laid for a decision making hierarchy that will gradually dilute the authority of media practitioners to follow their own personal and professional directives o Complex orgs tend toward decentralized decision making, which, in turn, calls ofr professionalized decision makers at every level. The ideal would be for both the responsibility and the accountability of decision making to correlate o Moral “buck passing” becomes the rule rather than exception o Easy to blame others for decisions over which we have had minimal input or control • Moral Excuses o There are several common “excuses” that we typically accept as valid when assessing blame o Constraint for instance refers to both physical imperatives and lack of alternatives • Can Personal Ethics Become Professional Ethics? o Ex: the importance of privacy o When we adopt a profession whose entire reason for being is provide info, we may find the obligations of that job may, and generally do, supersede those of our personal lives. By letting our personal principles take first priority, we could be compromising our professional principles o Professional values may, and often do, outweigh personal values o If the harm outweighs the benefit—don’t publish. If harm and benefit appear to be equal—publish. Why? Because out default position as a professional journalist is to provide information unless there is a good reason not to o The ultimate test of any principles, personal or professional, must be the efficacy of the resulting actions based on those principles—not just for the person acting, but for all those involved or affected by the action. • Media Similarities: The Common Threads o Ethical perspective, they all are obligated to moral claimants: those who have some stake in our decisions o The media under discussion here all profess a duty to truth telling. The ideal of truthful info is at the heart of all communication and is assumed as the normal default in our everyday exchanges with each other o The place of truth telling in our basic conception of communication o In addition to truth telling, the mass media share a duty of avoidance of harm toward their constituents o Mass media also share a need for credibility for without credibility their massages are less effective, even unbelievable o It would be a false assumption to believe that we can judge the ethicality of any action taken in one form of media by the template used to judge another • Media Goals o All communication has in common a primary set of goals. Which of the set is used at any given time depends on the medium and the purpose to which the communication is being put. The most common of those goals are info dissemination, persuasion, and entertainment o News media also give us what we want which typically leads to a sort of dynamic tension between the two extremes o It is a given that in order to give us what we need, the media also often have to give us what we want o Goals of Advertising § The primary goal of advertising, then, is more likely to be to sell a product than to impart info. Like public relations, however, advertising may inform or entertain in order to persuade later. o Goals of Public Relations § One of the primary goals of public relations is to iform § Information produced by public relations can also be viewed as contributing to the “marketplace of ideas” § There is a school of thought that holds that public communication of any kind potentially contributes to public debate § If we trace the rise of modern democracy to those Greek roots, we can draw a parallel as well between persuasion as a cornerstone of the entire political system and the necessity for providing each citizen a voice in that system, regardless of the issue or political alignment § Both advertising and public relations parallel the theory of journalism, which is based on the belief that the public good is being served through the free expression of its practice § However, public relations must admit to sharing with advertising the time honored goal of persuasion through communication—a goal not in the least ignoble • Media Loyalties o Loyalty can be defined as “faithfulness” or “allegiance”. Loyalty also implies that something is owed to that to which we are loyal o Loyalty in the News Media § Once we concede that the implied goal of the news media is to inform us, it is easier to understand where their loyalties should lie § The reality of economic viability will certainly intrude on loyalty to the public, but for our purposes here let us assume that, in an ideal sense, first loyalty goes to the public receiving the info § Value that most journalists place on autonomy practically insures that they will consider the public as their number one claimant o Loyalty in Adverting and Public Relations § Both advertising and public relations are client based occupations § They serve clients rather than the general public § Advocate usually acts as an agent of the client, performing some service on the client’s behalf or representing the client’s interests § Advocates are expected to be subjective § to the advocate falls the job of bringing skills of persuasion to bear through methods and on issues often predetermined by the client • Forming Ethical Standards for the Mass Media o Shared standards are not possible if we look at the various mass media as having different goals and differing sets of obligations to their constituencies o Whether they are shared or not, ethical standards of any type will require a devotion to ethical action, and ethical action often comes into conflict with our instinct to act in our own self interests o Tendency toward egoism is manifested at every level of our lives and reflected not only in our actions but also in our deep seated sympathy for the tenents of self interest o Important to understand ethical standards from at least three perspectives: the personal, the professional, and the societal o Less likely to act self interestedly o Since we tend to assimilate ethical principles at each of these levels, we cannot truly separate them nor should we o We must learn how and when the standards of each level apply • Values, Ideals, and Principles o When we talk about believing in the sanctity of life, we are expressing a personal value o Values: § Values as those things that reflect our presuppositions about social life and human nature § Values cover a broad range of possibilities, such as aesthetic values (something is harmonious or pleasing), professional values (innovation and promptness), logical values (consistency and competency), sociocultural values (thrift and hard work), and moral values (honesty and nonviolence) § Values are also further defined by philosophers as being either instrumental or intrinsic § Instrumental value is one that leads to something of even more value § Money usually is seen has having instrumental value, because possessing it leads to other things of greater value, including happiness § Other values, such as happiness, are said to possess intrinsic value— they are sought after because they are ends in and of themselves, and don’t necessarily lead to greater values o Ideals: § Ideal as a notion of excellence a goal that is thought to bring about greater harmony to ourselves and to others § Our culture respects ideals such as tolerance, compassion, loyalty, forgiveness, peace, justice, fairness, and respect for persons § Ideals often come into conflict with each other o Principles: § Principles are those guidelines we derive from values and ideals and are precursors to codified rules § Usually stated in positive (prescriptive) or negative (proscriptive) terms § Ideals values and principles of the media will differ according to the differing goals and loyalties of each § We begin to establish principles, we are committing ourselves to a course of action based on our values and ideals § When we act ethically, we typically act on principle § Principle can serve as a guideline for ethical action o Normative Principles in Applied Ethics § Personal benefit: acknowledge the extent to which an action produces beneficial consequences for the individual in question § Social benefit: acknowledge the extent to which an action produces beneficial consequences for society § Principle of benevolence: help those in need § Principle of paternalism: assist others in pursuing their best interests when they cannot do so themselves § Principle of harm: do not harm others § Principle of honesty: do not deceive others § Principle of lawfulness: do not violate the law § Principle of autonomy: acknowledge a person’s freedom over his/her actions or physical body § Principle of justice: acknowledge a person’s right to due process, fiar compensation for harm done, and fair distribution of benefits § Rights: acknowledge a person’s rights to life, info, privacy, free expression, and safety. o Policies: § Policy standards are not intractable; rather they serve as indicators of our values and principles § Policies, even ethical policies, must be amendable to change in order to remain applicable to an often-‐changing environment § Key to use policy standard as a default position, subject to eval as warranted but acceptable at face value in most cases § Keep in mind that policies are usually developed, not for entire industries but for individual entities within those industries • Professional Codes and the Law o Informal: § Ideals § Values § Principles o Formal: § Principles § Codes § Policies § Laws o Professional codes tend to establish a general goal or ideal, or define the ideal practitioner, and generally indicate how to attain that goal or become that practitioner. Additionally, codes usually indicate to whom the practioner is obligated and how • Can the Media be Ethical? o The accepted decision making norm for most media is situational—every determination is made on a case by case basis, rendering consistency ractically moot. The result is that the reputation of the media has increasingly suffered in the eyes of the public o Single greatest roadblock preventing the media from ever coneding to constraint is their abiding belief in their right to do anything they want free from outside interference o Rights are best served when tempered by obligation o Moral dimension would demand conduct effected with reciprocity and governed by civility, respect, and affection for others o Key to moral decision making is to understand the interrelationship inherent in the actions of the mass media, and to consider the potential outcome of those actions from a perspective infused with care for others and a sense of obligation to serve rather than to prevail Chapter 2 Moral Claimants, Obligation, and Social Responsibility • Whenever we make moral decisions, we affect other people • Anyone who is affected by our decisions or has some effect on us could be considered a stakeholder—or in the lang of ethics, a moral claimant. • Four primacy claimant groups: o Our clients/customers o The organization for which we work o The profession of which we are a part o And society as a whole • Order in which we address these groups will depend on a number of variables, including: o The media job we hold (in journalism, advertising, or public relations o The environment in which we are having to make a moral decision (political, economic, and social factors included) o The nature of the decision itself o And the constraints we feel as a result of these other variables • The danger is that because of these constraints, we are more likely to honor our obligations to those who most affect us rather than the other way around • Because of our reliance on clients in public relations and advertising, the tendency is to consider them our primary claimants, sometimes neglecting those whom we affect directly with our message—our target publics or audience • If we understand our functional relationships with these various constituencies, we can then begin to sort out our ethical obligations to them • We tend to avoid actions that result in negative consequences for others, and to promote actions that bear favorable consequences • Relationships among Media and their Claimants o Several identifiable relationships among parties based on level of dependent § Symmetrically independent • the parties are independent enough that each could survive the loss of the other • allows for extreme flexibility, yet may allow hedging in the areas of obligation and duty since loss of, say, Party B is not crucial to Party A’s survival and vice versa • ex: printing facility that runs the local weekly on its presses is dependent on the newspaper for part of its business. Likewise the paper is dependent on the printer. However both the printer and the paper could survive without each other if necessary § asymmetrically dependent • implies that although Party B may be dependent on Party A for survival, Party A may not be dependent on Party B. This allows for some leverage and potential coercion on the part of Party A as well as hedging in the areas of obligation and duty • ex: in order to save money, a company may cut employee salaries, increase work demands, or otherwise mistreat employees who may be completely reliant on the company for a job. This would be hedging on the company’s obligation to its employees § interdependent • two or more parties engaged in this type of coexistence must reach mutual understanding and compromise in order to survive • the relationship between the entertainment “new” industry and the celebrities that they cover is this type of association. Neither the industry nor the stars it covers can survive without each other • Strong and Weak Claims o We are typically more obligated to those upon which we depend for major support § Ex: TV station depends on its owner for startup capital, without which it could not survive § Have strong functional claims on each other’s actions § The owner has a stronger functional claim on the actions of the station o We are typically more obligated to those with whom we are mutually dependent § Ex: nonprofit community may use the local TV station as an outlet for announcements and for news coverage; however the station may choose what to run and what not to run o We are typically less obligated to those that are totally independent from us and from whom we are totally independent § Ex: television station in a given area do not rely particularly on each other and, in fact, actively compete for the same advertisers and audiences. Their functional claims on each other are weaker o The notion of claims is based on the necessity to maintain certain relationships over others o Entirely functional o Any ranking will be made purely on an amoral basis no ethical values are applied o Nature of functional obligations is that they carry no moral weight o From an ethical perspective, it would seem that the party with the most power in a relationship is more morally obligated if for no other reason than it has most of the power and therefore more potential to harm the weaker party o Although he weaker party is certainly obligated its position as the dependent party puts it at a natural disadvantage and somewhat at the mercy of the more powerful party • Ethical Applications o Each decision with ethical implications brings with it certain obligations o Need to consider the broader scope of moral obligation o Must also consider consequences o Must recognize both our functional relationships and our ethical obligations • Nature of Obligation o Obligation usually implies a bond, either legal, social, or moral—an owing of something to someone or something o Obligation is roughly synonymous with the term “duty” o Also have “natural” duties to others simply because they are people who could be helped or harmed by our actions o We also are obligated merely by being members of human society o Obligations arise not only from general social relationships but also from relationships described by our roles and functions in life, including our jobs o We are obligated explicitly and implicitly in our relationships with others we come in contact with through our daily work • Ross’s Moral Duties o Moral philosopher William David Ross defined six areas he believed all human beings would recognize, in one form or another, as being morally building o Duties of fidelity § If you promise to perform some act or to abstain from performing some act, then you are obliged to perform that act or to abstain from performing the act § Also includes duties of reparation—if you perform a wrong action with respect to another person, you are obliged to undo the wrong o Duties of gratitude § If any person performs some service for you, then you ave some obligation to the person who performed the favor o Duties of justice § If any person merits a distribution of something (typically something that will result in pleasure, happiness, or satisfaction) and you can bring that distribution about (to prevent an unmerited distribution), then you are obliged to distribute what is merited (or prevent/withhold what is not merited) § Can often mean giving greater consideration to the claim of those who deserve it rather than to those who demand it, regardless of their position or power o Duties of beneficence § If you can make some person better with respect to their state of existence, then you are obliged to do so o Duties of self improvement § If you are in a position to avoid hurting someone, then you are obliged to do so o There is typicaly an imbalance in obligation in favor of stronger claimants we need to be particularly careful to offset this tendency by honoring all obligations, especially those to weaker parties o Key is to remember that we are tied to our stakeholders by more than just economic or political linkages. We are tied to them socially, and social lies imply obligation o We cannot avoid the likelihood that others recognize these same obligations and are very likely to hold us accountable when we do not honor them • The Libertarian Approach o Libertarianism holds that freedom should be unbounded; there should be no restrictions on an individual’s freedom to do, what he or she please o Modern journalism maintains a very strong flavor of libertarianism in its refusal to bow to outside pressure, especially governmental pressure o This thinking is a reflection of the “invisible hand” theory of Adam Smith, who pointed out that the duty of a capitalistic endeavor was to make a profit and remain viable, for by doing so the rest of society was duty served o Modern conservative economists echo this sentiment when they state that the job of business is not only to survive but also to do well o The modern journalist gathers the news and reports it with as much objectivity as can be mustered o Objectivity is the mainstay of a libertarian press o The belief that the press should not owe allegiance to anyone or anything but itself is a very powerful one o A press encumbered by debt is not, by definition, a free press • The Social Responsibility Approach o The idea of social responsibility developed originally as a means of indicting American business, whose sense of obligation to the public was decidedly lacking in the early part of the 20 century o Social responsibility model, org are seen as operating at the behest of the public; thus, their rights are really privileges—and privileges come only at the expense of reciprocation in the form of agreed upon responsibility o An org should perform its basic task o Beyond that I should take care of any potential consequences of its primary task, such as cleaning up pollution it has caused, or being a good employer, or responding to complaints o Orgs may move into the area of general societal concerns such as literacy, disease prevention, hunger, etc. o Grunig proposes that the first two categories of responsibility are naturally blinding on all orgs. Anything less would be unacceptable to most of society o Third category—more difficult to measure for effectiveness; and although orgs would certainly be encouraged to take on larger societal issues, most citizens wouldn’t fault them if they did not. o 1942: § role of the press in our society was formally recognized as one including both rights and responsibilities § commission was established, originally by Henry R. Luce of Time and later by the Encyclopedia Britannica, to assess the state of journalism § Robert Hutchins, chancellor of the University of Chicago, was appointed head of the commission composed of 13 members from industry and education § The Hutchins Commission of Freedom of the Press studied the sticky questions of a “free and responsible press” and presented its report in 1947.-‐-‐> Commission stressed media should not only do their job of informing the citizenry, but also involve themselves in the well being of society as a whole § Since that time, it has been assumed that a certain level of responsibility is owed to society by the news media § There is a constant tension in journalism between giving the public what they need as active citizens and what they want, often just out of curiosity § The decline in the public desire for so called “hard news” in favor of “soft news” (often entertainment-‐oriented) and the news media’s response of softening the news overall may be an indication of how strong the economic imperative impinges on the concept of social responsibility § User created content is another indication that the media are attempting to give the public what they want, even if involves the public creating its own news § Further indications of media responsibility have surfaced in the concept of civic or public journalism—a modeling which the news media become actively involved in the well being of the community in which they operate § Christopher Lasch argued that the press today has abdicated its role as a proper forum for public debate by subscribing to the notions that information alone is the proper product of the media § Arguments in favor of a press free from outside control are likewise strong § By permitting or expecting a less than objective account consumers of news increase their own burden of gathering the facts for themselves § Obligation implies outside pressure, and we have already seen that the disparate media are obligated by the very nature of their jobs § Although the press may be obligated increasingly toward promoting the public welfare, there is a danger that such leanings may result in the news media becoming more like expected
Are you sure you want to buy this material for
You're already Subscribed!
Looks like you've already subscribed to StudySoup, you won't need to purchase another subscription to get this material. To access this material simply click 'View Full Document'