Saturday, January 31, 2009
As for other philosophies...I see the reasoning and points, their just not mine.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Anyway, I think if I absolutely had to adhere to one theory, it would be Aristotle's golden mean. I believe character and intent are important. Though I might look like a sucker to some, I like his idea of "virtue ethics"- that the combination of people and their acts are the basis of ethics. I think that in one way or another, a person's character plays a role in their decision-making, no matter how hard they try to be unbiased (that's us, fellow journalists!), so it's extremely important to develop good character by way of the golden mean. I think this can be a solid foundation of decision making, though that's not to say other models should be used as well.
Mill's utilitarian theory also has definite merit. Many decisions we must make in life will impact a great number of people, whether we like it or not. I feel it's imperative that humans consider the impact of their decisions on those with whom they share the planet with. Obviously, in most cases, it's impossible to comprehend the full extent of the impact our decisions will have, but I say, if we have some idea of the impact of a particular decision, we should implement this theory when possible. For example, if you have the choice of purchasing a Fair Trade chocolate bar versus a Hershey bar, purchasing the Fair Trade bar will have the greatest impact on the greatest number of people- in a small way, you are perpetuating a fair wage for people who harvest the cocoa beans, which means in the long run, more people will have a better quality of life. Purchasing the Hershey bar will benefit Big Hershey, and unless you give it to a homeless person, it will only benefit you (though I think it tastes horrible). I may be sounding trite here, but it's an example, nonetheless (Also, everything traces back to chocolate.)
I mostly disagree with Kant's categorical imperative theory. It's much to black and white to be logically implemented in one's day-to-day experiences. Though it might be a good idea to consider how the world would be if everyone made the same decision you did, it's also impossible to really comprehend that effect to the full extent. It is important to consider our actions alone, but I can't grasp the fact that Kan't didn't believe in moral character and seemed to not place much emphasis on consequences. He also believed in no exceptions to his theory, ie- all decisions should be duty-based. Frankly, I don't even think it's possible for one's decisions to be entirely duty-based.
In conclusion, no ground-breaking profound postulations here. Just some scattered thoughts shot from the hip on matter.
To Aristotle – I believe intentions count for something. Whether they are motivated selfishly or for the good of others, intentions matter and can reveal a great deal about people. Aristotle said there are three keys to acting ethically. I agree with the first and the last – exercising good sense and acting in line with an unchanging and firm character. Acting intelligently obviously requires good sense but, more importantly, character defines you. It must be unwavering and good. Character and reputation out last just about everything. It is important to remember this.
I also agree with Mill. Consequences certainly define whether or not decisions are ethical. The end should always be considered but I don't think the ends always justify means. And I don't think any decision should be utility-based. Yes, it's hard to say and live this out, but decisions should not be selfishly made. Here is where I have slight disagreement with Mill. He believes it is OK to do harm if a larger group is benefited. This can't be said of all situations and such a blanket statement is dangerous.
With Kant, I absolutely believe in the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I believe duty influences some but for me, I don't act morally simply because I feel a duty to do so. I abide by my morals because I believe they are fitting to my life and offer freedom from guilt, fear, selfishness and hypocrisy.
Kant's categorical imperative is much too rigid for me. There are exceptions to every rule and one has to make choices that don't always follow a formula. I don't think universal law is always simple, if it was we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Aristotle says that good intentions count for something and he looks for the ultimate happiness for each person. He also says that one needs to have an unchanging character, which I think is so important. It takes so long to build up a good reputation and it can be lost so easily. But, if you do as Aristotle says and live your life so you character is unchanging, then hopefully you won't ever have to lose your good name. If some hard decision comes up, having good intentions could save your reputation. Having a clear conscience and a good reputation can bring you ultimate happiness.
Mills says it is all about the consequences; the greatest good for the greatest number of people. I agree with this philosophy to an extent as well. When we were learning about Mills, I kept think of the passengers on the flight that was headed for the White House on 9/11. They were thinking not about themselves, but about what was best for so many other people. They sacrificed their lived to help so many others, which is following Mills thinking. There can be a lot of good done when you consider the consequences and act upon them. But, there is also dangers in this as well. If you focus too much on the outcome of the experience then you miss the learning that comes along the way.
I have a hard time agreeing with Kant. He says everyone should always act in what the way the university would. But, circumstances are different and there isn't always one right answer, and the right answer to one person wouldn't be to another. Each person is too different to have this philosophy work.
Each of these men had a different view on good character and ethics, but I feel that the philosophy taught by Aristotle and Mills is best applied today and to me. We all need to be looking out for those around us, but we can't forget ourselves. It is important to want to help others and to leave enough time to help ourselves find the ultimate happiness like Aristotle said.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
We are given rules either by religion, government or society and I believe life is more about living or having good character that causes us act morally. Developing good character, such as kindness or honesty, is more important than simply being honest because it is a “rule”. In an idyllic society, rules would not be necessary, but people would do good because they were simply a good person. Although decisions may not be “right” or “wrong”, especially for journalists we’ve learned, having good character should help us when we are faced with dilemmas.
When I researched different philosophies, I found that to act on virtue ethics means to act from particular motivations. And, I decided, I would be able to do math if I had the motivation to put time into it. My whole life revolves around what I am passionate about and if I have motivation for something, I do it well. If I make good decisions, I have the right motives. If we are good people, we should act with good intensions and therefore acting morally should come easily.
Of course, everyone may have their own ideas about what a moral person is, but I think being true to yourself is key to becoming happy, which is the ultimate human good according to Aristotle.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
It is hard to give one answer why duty motivates me to action, I do not think it is the only thing, but is a main basis. Duty is doing something whole-heartedly I feel is required of me to support something/someone that is important to me. I live by the idea of doing everything whole-heartedly, or at least the best I can. I rarely can do anything half-heartedly and feel good about it. I suppose I feel I have cheated myself or others, and therefore did not do my duty, and this is failure in my mind. I guess I want intent to count, but it just doesn't seem good enough.
I think many people are motivated by personal duties, and I think it can be a good way to know how to act ethically. I would guess many people feel duty to their family, jobs, the environment and themselves because they care about those things. Since those are the things that are in our everyday lives and are what makeup life itself, then it seems good to do the best we can concerning those things. I think it can be hard to rationalize about impersonal situations and ideas, like a universal "ought," or stepping beyond cultural bounds. It is easier for me to make ethics personal, than to apply it to a bigger picture, because all I know is my little world.
I guess that would make Mr. Ross my main man. I really like in the Media Ethics book his description of the difference between right and good. Producing good should be our objective. However, it is easy to mix up right with good. "A right action is something undertaken by persons motivated by correct reasons and on careful reflection. Not all right actions, however, will be productive of the good." I think this is why I struggle with the right intentions idea, because someone may do a right action, but may not produce something good, and if something good isn't produced, then logic says something bad was.
So if I do my duty, I have produced something good. I think the list of seven duties are pretty close to what I try and live by: fidelity, reparation, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement, and not injuring others. I agree also with Ross on the idea that all of these duties are equally important, and will produce the good. I struggle with Kant's idea that just not lying will produce a totally ethical or moral human. It just doesn't seem to be deep enough to produce a good, caring, progressive society.
I think too that Ross's theory takes something important into account that makes his idea more realistic. We live in reality, so an idea that's applicable is important I believe. His theory realizes that life is complicated, multi-faceted, and we aren't just motivated by one duty. It seems most times when I am confused on an ethical level, it is in a grey area, not something that's black and white, particularly as a journalist. I can do my duty and produce good, but I can always do it better as I learn, and produce more good.
I think a good illustration of this is in the case study we read in class. The reporter printed the mayor's accusations, and the opposing party's "no comment" response. I really don't think she did anything wrong. She did her duty, but I am sure she learned and will know how to do it even better next time, like a follow-up story, or some other solution.
I think the whole thing ended fairly peacefully, and that everyone felt pretty good with the end result thinking the bases were covered ethically. So, why doesn't this happen in real life? I think it could if people weren't so determined to prove themselves right, and others wrong. I think that if we really all worked together, like we say we will, so many problems would be resolved. Did the arguement take some time? Yeah, it wasn't two words and done. We had to crawl through the facts a bit, but in the long run, this would have saved a lot of time in real life situations.
Can PR and Journalism get along? I think so. It just isn't very common.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
At that, what I found most disturbing about Meg Carter was her complete disregard for source/journalist confidentiality. It is upon this cornerstone that journalism is born. If sources do not trust journalists, they will no longer give privileged information to writers and story material will slowly fade away. What is most upsetting is that one journalist who violates this trust, potentially ruins rapport for journalists who follow. Take for example the police chief, your go-to-guy for the crime beat. If one journalists prints information given to him in confidence, potentially that police chief will no longer give inside information to reporters. Ruining a source for later journalists covering that jurisdiction. The sad thing, and something that I don't think many journalists consider, is the real harm they can cause sources that ask for something be kept off the record. Take for example Teresa Perrone, printing confidential information given to Mega ultimately cost a life. And it is my personal belief that no story, regardless of how groundbreaking, is worth a life.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Meg lacked the news value of confirmation in her reporting. She had no regard for the reputation of Mike Gallagher when she published the story. The police had little to no evidence that Gallagher was guilty but Meg published the story anyway.
The end was rewarding when she didn't sell out her cop friend. She finally seem to see the consequences of her actions and did her best to redeem herself.
Obviously, Megan blatantly disregarded many ethical dilemmas that cropped up during her experiences. But to me, it wasn't intentional. I'm guessing the character background for Megan is that she isn't educated in the ways of journalism. Most likely, someone like her in real life would have gotten her job because of her "nose for news," her looks, or if the hiring news agency was corrupt and couldn't see/didn't care that she lacked a complete sense of ethics. The paper she worked for actually appeared to be this way, since no one tried to stop her unsubstantiated stories. The editor could have stopped her and taught her a thing or two about ethics, but he didn't. Shame on him. (I forget, did he have a crush on her?) It seems that the only idea the newspaper and Megan had about good journalism was being able to sniff out a good story. (I think she also wanted to prove that she could handle meaty stories because she was a woman in the newsroom in the '80s.) I did admire Meg's passion, eye for news, dedication, and her persistence, however. I certainly wouldn't mind having those qualities as a potential journalist. But they do not comprise the core of a good journalist. A good journalist seeks (first and foremost) truth, is responsible, honest, and unbiased-- qualities which I think, are concomitant with ethics. Unfortunately, Meg had to learn this the hard way.
In the first place, she shouldn't have given into the setup provided by the D.A. That was wrong on two levels: first of all, it was classified information, second it was an unsubstantiated claim- mere speculation. Second of all, she (and the rest of the stupid paper) ran a one-sided story with one anonymous source. Sigh. And of course, to clear Gallagher, she ran the information that Ms. Perrone gave about her abortion. True, Meg never said it was "off the record," but she could have just as easily published the story with anonymous sources like she did with the first story! Oh, and of course, there's the getting "involved" with a source issue that screwed everything up even more. I'm sure Gallagher was hard to resist, but come on! But I'm sure we all knew it was coming. Also, she didn't even think twice about wearing a wire when she interviewed Gallagher. So many violations, so little time.
As far as "getting it right," I think, in the very end, Meg did, somewhat. Though she still wasn't fully educated on journalism ethics, she appeared to have a grasp of it at the end. At the trial, she protects the identity of the guy in the strike force (can't remember his name) who showed her the file with the photos of Gallagher. Also, at the very end, she verbalizes to Gallagher that she did her job badly. I think that shows that she has learned some sense of ethics, one way or another. And that's all I've got.
P.S. Wilford Brimley, the actor who played the attorney, is totally my third cousin. You are all jealous.
And, I do not think Megan can be blamed for Ms. Perrone's suicide. Ms. Perrone gave her the information, and while she didn't want it published, it was very relevant to the story, it was an alibi! We don't know exactly what Megan said in the paper, but if she just presented the facts, then there was no ethical dilemma. Journalists' job is to give the facts in an accurate and fair way, and sometimes people don't like the facts, but that doesn't make the news industry evil.
Now to the railing. There were many ethical issues, but I think the biggest is that Megan was not accurate, and she assumed. Journalists should never assume. Whether by preconceived ideas or whatever, Megan assumed what she thought were valid facts. For example, she assumed when she wrote the first story that Mike wouldn't respond or want to cooperate, and she did not get his side. That is so irresponsible for a journalist, its embarassing. She also assumed that everything in the file she stole was correct and valid. It seems she should have done better backgrounding, and checked other sources before publishing that first story. She also assumed that Ms. Perrone, at first meeting, was Mike's girlfriend.
As a personal moral, I think all the alcohol Megan consumed while on the job, finding the story was also irresponsible. It impairs judgement, and that is not a good thing for a journalist. Also, her continued 'meetings' with Mike were mixed between personal affairs and work, the story, and that is not right. She played him for the story, and vice versa, and that also impairs credibility and judgement.
I don't think Megan ever got it right. She always missed the mark because she let ethical dilemmas overrule her journalist's judgement.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I feel there are a lot of reporters out there who would have done exactly what she did. They would have fallen right into the trap. This is why people think journalists are cunning, deceitful and just looking to ruin other people's lives. I felt bad for Mike and wanted him to get back at Megan, but I also felt bad for Megan. She should have known better and her editor should have known better than to publish a story with no basis of truth. This movie had me just waiting to see how far Megan would go before she realized what she had done and tried to make it right. But, by the time she did that, it was too late. A life had been lost and another one had been ruined. It can be so easy to fall into traps and this movie showed how fast a life can be ruined by a simple article in the newspaper.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I am writing the blog without reading the packet and then I’ll read it so I have more to add to my critique review paper. We watched the movie to make us think about our ethics and job as a journalist. However I want to start by saying that Meg (Sally Fields character) gets a lot of the blame and while the majority of the problem is her fault, there were poor ethical decisions made by all main characters. Meg’s unethical problems were unintentional. She was trying to do her job and be the good watchdog journalist and to get a good story. Elliot (the guy who left the file on his desk) is the character with the main ethical problems to me. He thought through his actions and knew what he was doing. Meg was unaware of the problems she was creating, so I feel a little bad for her. However it raises a good point. As a journalist, I will try harder to step back and look at my stories and think of how it impacts all parties involved. Just because we have a story to print does not mean it should be printed. We are considered gatekeepers of information.
Although I feel a little bad for Meg, she started the whole ordeal by trying to fabricate a story where there wasn’t one. When she was talking to Gallagher about the first story he said you write for someone with no face and no name but you believe them to be right over me, the person standing in front of you. I love that line. Journalists have to be careful who they trust. After all we are only as good as the sources where we get the story. Even though there are reasons for sources to need anonymity, always search for someone that will go on the record. Also second guess intentions of sources. If someone will go on the record for a story, why would another want to remain anonymous?
To me, Meg’s biggest fault was doing the story at all. As far as reporting the story, running the abortion part was absolutely unacceptable. I know you can’t blame Meg for the death. The editor said it’s not her fault, and it’s not because in the end, Teresa chose to kill herself. However if the article saying she had an abortion never ran then she would still be around.
I think Meg did what she could to make the story right. She realized there was a problem and tried to get to the bottom of the story and make it right for both parties.
There was something I did admire about Meg – her drive and commitment to news. Even after she reports Teresa's abortion and the editor tells Meg she committed suicide as a result, she asks him, "Do you want me to do the story?" What dedication.
Something else that really aggravated me was Meg and Mike's relationship. Meg was quite forward, which I thought was fine, as long as she was doing so to get the story, but then she shows up at his work, his boat, drives by his house ... Every time she showed up I wanted to scream. Not only is he a source and the subject of her articles but he attacks her. Really? She is going to keep going to this guy? Sure, Paul Newman is beautiful but there should be some boundaries as a reporter and as a woman. But I'll save that for my paper.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I saw that Meg ultimately felt guilty and responsible for the issues that came to pass. She had the feeling of error, but I am not sure she corrected the ethical issues she practiced. The most problematic ethical issues she faced were allowing certain feelings to control her actions. Meg was unethical in her treatment of Teresa Perrone. Meg was given private information on an event, which obviously devastated Ms. Perrone, and let the information be printed. Meg objected to her editor's advice to print the story as was, but gave in far too easily. By printing the story Meg caused harm and discomfort to Ms. Perrone and eventually led to Teresa’s suicide. After the matter Meg became distraught, but again allowed her emotions to dictate her actions. Meg was hungry for the truth at all cost. I believe Meg was wrong for sharing all the information about Ms. Perrone. The article could have been tasteful and respectful.
I tend to lose my moral compass daily, but somehow always hold on to a few personal ethics. I try to be kind yet logical on a daily basis and that seems to be doing the trick.
I don’t believe journalists need a huge list of morals to be good journalists. All we really need to do is tell the story as it happens. Accuracy and timeliness seem to be the only morals we NEED. Surely, all the other mainstream morals (honesty, respect, integrity, loyalty, etc) fit into being accurate with the story. I think we sometimes confuse the truth with the truth as we see it. It’s a small difference but it’s also the difference between non-fiction and creative non-fiction.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
When I consider personal values, the first thing I always think of is loyalty. I don't really know why, other than that I've always tried to be loyal to friends and family, no matter what. I'm not saying I've been perfect at it, but I've tried. But in the world of media, loyalty inevitably does not mix. To be an unbiased, objective reporter, one cannot be too loyal to one school of thought, organized group, or person, or at least keep their personal beliefs inside and out of the news. As much as I value loyalty in my personal relationships, the news is news, and should not be slanted by a journalist's loyalty to particular parties. Ideally, anyway. I feel that if you've signed on to be an unbiased relayer of information to a group of people, loyalties cannot stand in the way. If they do, the result is slanted news stations. Fox leans to the right, CNN leans left. It's a tough conflict I face as a potential journalist, needless to say.
I also strongly value kindness. A little bit goes a long way, and it seems to to be valued by the media as well. As a reporter, one needs to be able to develop a good rapport with interviewees for obvious reasons. Without this, reporters can miss out on crucial details because they have not connected with the subject on a personal level. I've personally found that interviewees appreciate kindness, and it doesn't take a big effort to be kind. In turn, they will receive you warmly. On the other hand, kindness can conflict with the media. Inevitably, unflattering stories get published about people, people get angry, etc. Though journalists can try their best to be kind, they will find that they cannot please everyone all the time. And poor editors- no matter what they do, there's always someone who is offended. A resolution to this is simply coming to terms with it- being prepared for people who are unhappy and learning to act professional and not take things personally. That is something that I, being a people-pleaser, will have to come to terms with if I really want to be in the journalism profession.
Anyway, I hope this all makes sense. Thank you for reading. There are many more things I value, but this is already really lengthy. I'm also a big fan of integrity and honesty- I really could go on about them, but I'll spare everyone. Now, to go eat brownies...
Friday, January 16, 2009
I have no experience with journalism or the media other than watching the news or reading the newspaper. I think that this class will really open my eyes to what the media does. I think that it will be a good experience for me to learn and broaden my horizons. Well that is a little about myself and I hope that over the course of this class I will be able to learn a lot. See you on Tuesday!
I threw myself into my major head first, praying that I would like it, and I did. I've tracked my media consumption before and realized how much of it I consume. I spend most of my waking hours consuming some sort of media and I think it is great. I figure if I am not listening to something, reading something, watching something, in class (second hand media), then what am I doing? It's everywhere, so lets use it to do some good.
I think that life is too short to live it wrong, so I have taken some time over my years to look at what it is I believe is good, and what isn't. I think that treating people with respect is extremely important. I don't think anyone wants to have eyes rolled at them. I think that in most cases, they don't deserve it either. We usually think we are better than someone else, but that doesn't make it true. I also think that it standing up for what you believe in is something everyone should be willing to do. I don't believe contention is a good thing, but the chance that someone feels as you do is pretty good, and they are waiting to hear their thoughts spoken with someone else's voice. Strength in numbers sort of thing. I have learned over the years that individuality is essential in this life. Don't be afraid of who you are or what your past has been. These things shape you, and I hope make you a better person. Let people know. You are you for a reason. I had a friend teach me that.
Besides being clumsy, I am a senior graduating this May with a dual major in Sociology and Journalism and Communications. I live in and commute two days a week to Logan from Ogden. I moved back to the home town after getting married this July. I have two cats, Chloe and Oliver. Chloe is the latest addition to my brood, my husband gave the okay for another cat after Christmas this year. I enjoy summer time with all of its activities. From hiking and gardening to boating and swimming, I love all of the summertime fun. I am also an avid reader of all genres. I once tried starting a book club but it quickly turned into a "no book, book club," where my girlfriends and I did more drinking than reading.
Adding to the list of values we established in class, I would have to say my most important values are determination, humanity, education, independence, and family. These values are the most important and closest to my heart. I feel that though many of these values may overlap in a long list of media values, many of my personal values may not rank as high with what the media may value. In looking at the New York Times corporate website, http://www.nytco.com/company/index.html, the corporate values of diversity, inclusion, innovation, technology, and social responsibility were emphasized. Many of these values are similar to my personal values. For example the Times value of social responsibility aligns well with my value of humanity. And determination closely resembles innovation. But as humans frequently do, I feel the Times and other media outlets at many times fail to live up to their values. There is frequently a gap between stated values and reality.
Yet hope is not lost, I feel a great awakening occurring in the era of the citizen journalist. This revolution is leading to the opening of the marketplace of ideas. I am a firm believer in the theory that as more and more ideas are present, truth will ultimately prevail. Further, I am excited to see the diversity of involvment in the press and democracy. No longer is good public reporting left to stuffy academics and reporters on the beat, Joe and Jane the Plumber have as many opportunities and avenues to publish as any well known writer. Finally, I hope that along with truth comes accountability for media outlets who fail to live up to their values and social purpose. Knowledge is power, right?
Kant emphasizes duty, not lying and keeping promises. But what about this scenario:
While I can't remember the name of the movie, it stars Shirley Temple during the civil war. She lives in the South, and her father is a spy for the Confederates. One day he tells his daughter, Shirley, to promise him she would never tell a Yankee if one came looking for him where he is. Of course a little kid would promise their dad they wouldn't tell. Not far in the future, the father comes racing home from a spy mission to hide in his home. The Yankees knock on the door and Shirley answers. They ask where her father is, and she says she doesn't know. So, Shirley kept her promise to her dad, and was honest by keeping it, to her father. But she lied to the Yankees. But if she had not lied to the Yankees, she would have broken her promise and essentially have lied to her father. So, my thinking is, either its a lose-lose situation, or there is a 'higher' and 'nobler' truth of the two options. I think that ratting out her dad would be treason, which is defined in the dictionary as "the betrayal of a trust or confidence." I think that by not honoring someone's trust of you is basically a lie. But anybody's interpretation is welcome.....what would Kant say I wonder.....?
I am taking this class because I as a human and a journalist have to encounter ethical issues everyday. I have my own approach, but I think that it never hurts to brush up on dead white philosphers. I love philosophy. There have been times in life where I felt I was at an ethical stalemate. I was stuck and just didn't know what to do because the issues was so complicated. So I hope I get a better understanding from this class.
The values in my life are feirce loyalty to people who are close to me, personal accountability, sincerety, dedication, and I try to be non-judgemental, but I am human. I think that if everyone were personally accountable, there would be fewer ethical breaches. Being personally accountable forces you to be honest with yourself, which is hard sometimes. But by doing this you are honest with others, and usually make better decisions. Sincerety is important to me because I am a realist. And if you don't mean what you say or do, you are not dealing with reality, and you cheat yourself and others. I believe in approaching situations and people as non-judgemental as possible, not comprimising other values, but trying to give people the benefit of the doubt because let's face it...sometimes life gets messy and no is perfect.
I think the underlying values of media fit with my personal values. Journalists have to be personally accountable because they make lots of decisions that are tough, and to get better, they have to be honest with themselves. Also, loyalty to the public is important to a journalist. Sincerety and non-judgemental are important things during interviewing people. People know when you are lying or judging them, and this won't make for a good story. The news world is tough, so if a person isn't dedicated, they won't make it.
My heroes range from Johnny Depp to my parents. I like that Johnny Depp, if you know his personal story, is very true to himself, and doesn't let media nor others affect his decisions. Also, my parents are inspiring people. They essentially were raised in a hell that most people cannot imagine, and yet they grew up to be happy, smart and kind people. My dad has a strong work ethic and my mom is very intelligent, and they made me, at times to my dislike, acquire these traits. And they have served me well.
Sorry if this is too long. But my name is Storee and I like to tell stories, no pun intended.
First, I think that there should have been more context about the actual happening. Assuming that everyone reading the story had been following it earlier was a mistake. Without the context of why Mr. Lamb was caught in his own backyard with the SWAT team cornering him leaves readers very confused and questioning. A story shouldn’t leave readers with questions about the facts. Details such as these also help a reader draw their own conclusions about ethics matters. While it might seem repetitive to the writer of the story, a recount of the story with the essential facts would have really increased the quality of the story.
Second, I know that Mr. Jensen should have had more than one source. He could have consulted the actual Medical Examiner to dispel any myths about where and how many times the victim was shot. He could have consulted the police for their opinion on their actions as well as for the actual investigative report. Also, other family members and friends, though a sensitive time, could have been consulted to increase the reader’s understanding and the writer’s credibility of a tender issue. By only using the father of the victim, the writer, the paper, the story and source all lose credibility. By using the other sources throughout the story, the writer could have done a comparison of fact vs. opinion to paint a more accurate picture and reveal if there were any ethics issues in the actions taken. I think the reader is confused after the story about if the actions of the SWAT team were valid or not because of how the father describes it and the lack of police sources in the story.
Third, I think that by doing the two things above, the writer could have chosen a more definite angle. It seems this is what he was lacking. He should have decided if there were ethical decisions at hand, and made the story about that. If he felt they were not ethical questions so much, he could still include all the information pertaining to this so there weren’t questions by readers, but make it more about a feature-memorial type piece about Mr. Greg Lamb. This is where the website would come in because the website is mostly a memorial, rather than a poke at the police it seems. He could have interviewed more family and friends and got personal stories, good memories and quotes about Mr. Lamb. Doing this will not leave the reader so dang confused. As for the title, well he should have either explained the quote more in the story or left it out. But what do I know? I am just a college wannabe.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Personal values I have – honesty, a strong work ethic, kindness, sincerity. Those are the big ones. There could be a clash with kindness. Sure, you've got to be good to your sources but sometimes, they aren't going to think your questions or what you're printing is polite. But that's a sacrifice you've got to make. Those other values I listed are essential to success in any field and certainly are crucial to a reporter.
I joined the class because I needed it to graduate, and also because it sounded interesting. i enjoy ethics classes cause there is no right or wrong answer, which i like because i enjoy looking at different perspectives on issues and especially on media issues.
I am a huge fan of all forms of media. Although i think that at times the media can be quite insensitive and absolutely rediculous, i believe that everyone is entitled their opinion and i love to listen and read all types of different perspectives.
I enjoy foreign media. I am an avid reader of the BBC's website. I wish to see more international news on the headlines of local and national news outlets. I feel it to be extremely important to be informed on foreign issues. I love the media. I enjoy reading and consuming information, whether its useless or not. Thats about it.
I have many different values in my life and I am not sure I can say that one in particular is more important than the rest of them. To me, each value works together to create a person with a good character. Some of my values include: honesty, integrity, hard work ethic, charity, dependability and the ability to laugh at yourself when you mess up. I don't know if the last one is really a value, but it sure makes mistakes easier to overcome.
There are many people in my life who have each one of these values, but the two people who stand out in my mind are my parents. My dad taught each one of his eight children the value of hard work and to be honest with yourself and others. My mom helped each of us see the effects of charity and being able to laugh in difficult situations. Together they helped me learn the importance of having a good character and they are two of my heroes.
I think the media share the same values as most of us do, but it is sometimes hard to decide whether to print a story that could help many people and still hurt someone. I feel that this is where most media gets its bad name. The public doesn't understand what journalists do which seems to be the biggest problem. Hopefully one day we will all be on the same page.
Values in my life.... Number one is honesty. My other values are in no particular order. But they are loyalty, respect, work ethic, not being ethnocentric or being open minded, caring, and fairness.
These values fit into my major because I believe journalists should be honest with the public. As a journalist I must know where my loyalty belongs (to the people) and respect myself as well as coworkers and audience. I need to be fair to all parties involved and be open to their opinions and beliefs.
Some people would look at this and say that is not what media do and media are none of these things. And I see where they are coming from but just because media are going downhill and looked down upon doesn't mean there aren't good journalists out there. I just have to do my part to positively contribute.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Students in the class are all authors on this blog. They are Amy Jensen, Kelly Greenwood, Diane S. Denning, Storee Powell, Arie Kirk, Mack Perry, Katie Williams, Katie Smedley, Jordan Oldham, Alice Bailey, Adam Pollock, Aubreyann Hansen, Ashley Zarate, Sean Setzer, Jessica Collett and Kyle Milne. With majors from journalism to horticulture, they have backgrounds as diverse as the media they'll be studying.
Comments, challenges, questions and remarks from readers are invited. Got light? Shine it here.
AnSci 303, Tuesdays 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Professor Nancy Williams
Office: AnSci 306
Office hours: MWF 10:30-noon; also by appointment
About this class: JCOM 4010 is an upper division journalism class focused on both skills and theory, and a DSS (Depth, Social Science) class for the university. Students who enroll are expected to write and think critically, at the level expected of seniors in college. Our discussions and readings should challenge you to find theories, reasons and logical arguments that support your most deeply held beliefs, help you organize and express those thoughts persuasively, and help you learn the language of moral reasoning. You might change your mind here -- and you may help change the minds of others.
Patterson and Wilkins, Media Ethics: Issues & Cases, 6th edition (McGraw-Hill)
I expect you to keep up on current news stories with ethical dimensions by reading a major daily Utah newspaper. The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, and Logan Herald Journal are available at the Merrill-Cazier Library and Taggart Student Center; the Trib and the News are available in full text online. The New York Times is also available free online, although you’ll need to register at the site, http://nytimes.com.
CLASS BLOG: http://mediaethics-usu.blogspot.com
If you don’t have a Blogger account, you’ll need to register at http://blogger.com
ASSIGNMENTS & GRADING: Expect to be thinking, writing, and defending your arguments on the class blog, presenting & discussing orally in class, and applying theories of ethical thought to the daily news coverage you find in the media.
Blog participation – 100 points (5 points possible for each post you make that raises a substantive question or responds substantively to a question raised by someone else. (Print out the 20 posts you want to have considered for this part of your grade and put them in your portfolio at the end of the semester.)
Group project ~OR~ independent research paper – 100 points
Midterm exam - 100 points
Class participation (includes attendance and discussion participation) – 100 points
Film commentaries (SIX films, 25 points each) – 150 points
Final portfolio and self-evaluation paper – 100 points
Final class grades are based on your percentage of the 500 possible points. 94-100 percent is an A, 90-93 percent an A-, 87- 89 is a B+, 84-86 a B, 80-83 a B-, 77-79 a C+, 74-76 a C, 70-73 a C-, 64-69 a D, 63 and below an F.
Late assignments will incur grade penalties of 5 percent per day. Written assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date.
SCHEDULE (I reserve the right to make changes if needed in order to reflect current news controversies.)
You must have completed the required readings before class on the date noted so you're prepared to discuss them. When there are current stories about media ethics in the news, I expect you to be familiar with them, particularly with any discussions and links that have been posted on the class blog. Always bring your book to class, as we’ll be using the cases in it for small group work.
Jan. 6 Welcome & introduction to class expectations. Archeological digs: lists & trees.
Jan. 13 Values: Identifying personal and professional ethics
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapters 1-2.
Discussion: Values: Professional vs. personal. Introduction to ethical decision making & models.
Blog post: (by Jan. 16): Introduce yourself. What are the values that count in your life?. How do they fit (or not) with what you believe the media value? If there’s a clash, is it resolvable if you’re looking at a future in a media profession?
Jan. 20 Ethical Decision-making
Film: “Absence of Malice” (1981, Sally Field and Paul Newman)
Blog: (by Jan. 23) This film contains a laundry list of ethics problems. Did Megan ever get it right? Discuss the problem(s) you found most problematic.
Jan. 27 Foundations of Ethical Thought: Virtue, Duty and Consequences and Justice theories
Reading: Using the text only as a starting point, go online and/or to the library and research on Aristotle, Mill, Kant and Rawls. Bring your notes to class.
Discussion: “Absence of Malice” and case studies, chapter 2
Blog: (By Jan. 30) Starting points: Write about your own ethical philosophy. Would you call your ethical values primarily virtued-based, utilitarian, duty-based, care-based, or communitarian – and why?
Film Commentary, Absence of Malice, due today,
Feb. 3 Loyalties: How do you choose between competing allegiances?
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, Chapter 4
Film: “Good Night and Good Luck” (Edward R. Murrow & the McCarthy era)
Blog: (by Feb. 6): Starting points: Is objectivity an appropriate standard for journalism? Would you allow a friend to be maligned (as Murrow does when his colleague Hollenbeck is tarred by McCarthy – to achive a greater moral goal? To whom do journalists owe loyalty? Where does loyalty rank on your scale of professional values?
Feb. 10 Information Ethics & the Search for Truth
Reading: Review Patterson & Wilkins, chapter 2; Google for background on Jason Blair and Stephen Glass cases.
Discussion: Truth & case studies from chaps. 2 and 4
Film Commentary, Good Night and Good Luck, due today
Blog: (By Feb. 13) Comment on any current local, state or national journalism ethics issue.
Feb. 17 Media and Deception
Film: “Shattered Glass” (2003)
Blog: (by Feb. 20) Starting points: Is deception by the news media ever justified? What about undercover reporting? What is the price for deception in the service of a good cause?
Feb. 24 Persuasion Ethics: What’s fair in advertising and public relations
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapters 3 and 5
Film commentary, Shattered Glass due today
Film: “Wag the Dog”
Blog: (by Feb. 27) Do a Top 10 list of your ethics. Which of your ethics might be for sale? At what price?.
March 3 Media Economics: Should profit drive journalism?
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapter 8
Discussion: :readings, Shattered Glass, Wag the Dog, Cases from chapter 8
Film Commentary, Wag the Dog, due today
Blog: (by March 7) Starting points: Why is the relationship between journalism and public relations both symbiotic and strained? Or, using Case VIII-A (advertising in Ms. Magazine), discuss your thoughts about any of the macro issues listed at the end of it.
March 10 NO CLASS -- spring break
March 17 MIDTERM exam
Blog: (by March 20) Starting points: Can journalism be saved? How would you do it?
March 24 Media and Social Justice
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapter 7
Blog: (by March 27) Starting points: How important is empathy as a journalistic value? What do you think of the US media coverage of slaughter on foreign shores (e.g., Sarajevo, Rwanda)? What kind of grade would you give Western media for their coverage of international conflicts?
March 31 Privacy in the Global Village
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapter 6
Film: “The Year of Living Dangerously”
Blog: (by April 3) Starting points: Utah keeps a database of convicted sex offenders on the Internet at http://corrections.utah.gov/asp-bin/sonar.asp Do you see any potential ethical problems here?
April 7 Ethics in New Media
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapter 9
Film commentary, The Year of Living Dangerously, due today.
Discussion: readings, The Year of Living Dangerously, Cases, chapters 6 & 9
Blog: (by April 10) Starting points: Conflict is usually listed as a traditional news value. How can media adhere to that value without sacrificing the ethical news values of accuracy, tenacity and equity? Objectivity: Is it an anachronism in an era of 24/7 news coverage and blog commentaries?
April 14 Empathy for human suffering
Reading: Patterson & Wilkins, chapters 10 & 11
Film: “Welcome to Sarajevo”
Blog: ( by April 17) Starting points: Is it more important for journalists to be objective or empathetic? What are the ethical implications for journalism and democracy as media ownership becomes concentrated in fewer, wealthier corporations? Should the media be concerned about social justice? Do people who can’t do anything to alleviate human suffering have a right to look at images of it?
April 21 Moral adulthood: Into the great wide open
Film commentary: Welcome to Sarajevo,, due today
Group project presentations
Blog:(by April 24) “An important part of moral development is the recognition that motive, not consequence, is the critical factor in deciding whether an act is ethical.” What does that sentence mean to you?
April 28 by 4 p.m.: Final paper and portfolio due. You may turn these in at the JCOM office, AnSci 310.