Sunday, October 5, 2008

Media Alteration

The chapter I read this week was about manipulation of information by the media, with regard to truth fairness and objectivity. The chapter discusses truth when gathering and presenting information. It states that only in extreme and rare circumstances should lying be used to gather news (Gordon 74).  The book describes truth as "truth as we know it"(Gordon 82). The book defines fairness as keeping an open mind (Gordon 86).
The most famous example of media alteration is when time magazine altered OJ Simpson's photograph. I have included a link to an article about it. 
It creates an ethical problem because it is flirting with truth when you alter information. this is coming from the consumer point of view. The ethical standards should serve the consumer. 
I personally feel like altering any type of information or lying to get information is unethical

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Code of Ethics

Code of ethics are used mainly by employers of journalists to give them strict rules to follow as journalists. Basically if there is a possible ethical problem they can refer to the ethical standards and that will solve the problem. They are made to ensure that al news material is truthful and accurate. Even if they are not followed they set a standard for conduct to be measured. 

What could be a problem with having a code of ethics could be that interpretation of the codes could become lose over time. especially if breaking the code meant getting the needed information to stop a far more horrible situation. Also coming from the textbook there seems to be somewhat of a problem with enforcement (Gordon 61). If there was an allegation of breaking the code of ethics, all the offender would have to do is quit that organization of job (Gordon 61). Basically as long as it was nothing too severe that there would be no criminal violation and they would be free and clear of the allegations. Also according to Gordon the codes are more for show and just give the general public the impression that high standards are being upheld. 

In my personal opinion I have to agree that codes cannot be strictly enforced because every situation is going to be different and codes are just for show more than anything else. Because depending on the situation it may be proper to break ethics rules. But on the other side it at least gives journalist a guide to go by in certain situations. So I do think they do serve a purpose.

linked is the spj code of ethics

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Journalist integrity

I recently read a chapter about individuals in mass media and what type of ethical decisions they make. There was a question within that chapter that discusses whether or not it is ethical for a journalist to ever deceive a source about identity or intentions. I found an article that discusses how a journalist deceived several sources. The first problem was with a certain reporter who was given the right to watch over Richard Nixon's presidency but didnt reveal that he intended to use it for TV (new york times). The second time that this journalist caused deception was when he was involved in a defense on a murder trial, professed to be an ally and friend to the defendant. After the trial he published a book about how he always knew that the defendant was guilty (New York Times). There are several central question that can help analyze this problem. The first one is, what constitutes an ethical problem or dilemma and from whose point of view. Obviously what causes an ethical problem is that this journalist is either lying to sources about his intentions, or he is leaving out facts. It is obviously going to seem unethical to the person that is decieved, and to the general public if it is brought up. Personally I think that whenever a reporter intentionally deceives someone to get a story it is not good, because depending on the type it could cause unnecessary damage to the person deceived. I believe it goes back to the idea that the action must justify the means. I also feel like it causes a lot of distrust in the media when those kind of things happen. Even if it something that the public needs to know, I feel like deception is never required to get a news story and shoudl be attained through alternate means.
here is the link 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Freedom of expression

Most recently in my Media ethics class we have begun to discuss legal limits on free expression and whether or not it is a good idea or not. There have been several legal limitations that have been put into place to reject anything that directly warrants violence or threatens national security (Gordon, 28). According to, the fairness doctrine "required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest and to air contrasting views regarding those matters." It has been said that the doctrine did not violate broadcasters first amendment rights (Gordon, 28). In my opinion when it comes to freedom of speech is a great thing but sometimes I feel that it is abused.
The article on discusses whether of not the now defunct fairness doctrine should be brought back. The articles quotes saying, "The FCC's pro industry, anti regulatory philoshophy has effectively ended the right of access to broadcast television by any but the moneyed interests." I can definitely see that because I myself look to the media for information and if the viewpoint that is portrayed is the one that went to the the highest bidder, im not sure how I could trust that.
There is a similar issue that the book talks about that discussed whether or not hate speakers should be allowed on cable access channels. According to the book it usually resulted in counter programming (Gordon, 30). It was also found usually the best way to counter this material was with positive messages and was the ethical approach as well (Gordon, 30). I think this is the ethical approach because I like to think that with one negative message their is a positive message to go along with it. I think that would put most people at ease to see both sides of something like that

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Problems with Teleological eithics

Teleological ethics is a ethics system based on consequences, basically considering consequences to decide what course of action. Deciding what consequences if option 1 is done instead of option 2. Teleological theorists will do whatever will bring the most happiness to a certain party I recently read an article that can be found at It discusses the problems with this ethics system. It talks about how impossible it may actually be to determine what the consequences will be of any course of action. For example when determining if a rape victims name should be printed, it is discussed how the victim will react to that. The person could be just upset or it could seriously damage them even more. Depending on the damage already caused by the rape it could cause permanent mental or damage or retaliation from the criminal or criminals family if they are not caught. Coming from this article this question is also brought up to wonder how much good things have to happen to outweigh some of the bad consequences that can happen ( I myself along with this article would worry about the good justifying the means and the good consequences. If something good happened and than also if something bad happened I would be responsible for the negative consequences, than I would be responsible, because I chose the plan of action (

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ethics rule for me

As I have begun to study media ethics, I have begun to form an opinion so what i feel is the best for me. The ethical theory that i feel best fits me would be the deontological theory. The deontological theory has to do with the following rules or principles (Gordon, Kittross 7). It basically says that if you follow the rules, you are ethical (Gordon, Kittross 7). According to this definition I feel that in  this is the best way to be the most objective, to follow basic principles and have no double standards. I would feel completely comfortable being thorough if i were to do a certain story, s long as I followed my basic rules. This theory works for me because I like know exactly what is going on at all times. I like everything to be black and white and to have very little dangerous uncertainty. It is very likely that every media organization is going to have their own set of ethical rules, but I like to have somewhat of a sure thing and I feel like a hard set of rules would be close enough. An example of this would be reporting a rape story and trying to decide whether to release the name of the victim. I have heard the argument many times, because everyone is trying to decide whether or not it is ethical. I would feel the most comfortable having it be a set rule, rather than trying to make a judgement call on a very touchy subject like that.
The theory that I feel is not for me at all is the personalist theory. The personalist theory is nonrational, more spontaneous, and is influenced by personal moral factors (Gordon, Kittross 8). My opinion is that everyone has their own set of morals, and what may be an important moral to one person may not be to another. Judging by your own set of morals may be appropriatein some situations, but I think it would be hard for me to feel ethical using this theory within media.