Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Media Ethics Issues & Cases: Ch. 8

Picture This: The Ethics of Photo and Video Journalism

There is a lot of power that comes with photojournalism. Now days, seeing a photo paired with a catchy title is more or less the deciding factor in reading an article. It is unfortunate, but ultimately true. With this, photojournalists have to make decisions in terms of the victims being the primary stakeholder. This is conflicting when your loyalty does not necessarily lie with the victim. Or rather your sympathetic loyalties do lie with the victim, but your boss enforces a direction that pressures you to run a photo that isn't the most ethical.  It is too often the case that someone else's misfortune is good fortune for the photojournalist. Thinking back to the news report in which the body of a young boy was lying on the ground after a hit and run renders a negative and insensitive reaction. The station abused a traumatic event for the sake of a decent news story.

I think Gary Bryant created a good checklist to follow that allows photographers to perform their duties without invading the privacy of the victim. Had the news station respected the grieving family member and the dead boy under the advised checklist, the reported event would have been just as effective. I think there is a time and a place for such images to make a large impact, but photojournalists must be smart in their tactics for garnering intense images that inadvertently dramatize an unfortunate situation.

When it comes down to it, Kant's categorical imperative is the most important principle to consider if a photo rides the line of ethics. For example, the photo run in the University of Florida newspaper, did not follow the principle. In my opinion, despite the editor's claims, the photo was used as a means to an end rather than an end to a means. Running the photo with a dead baby is never ethical, especially when the story alone provides the desired effect on the readers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Media Ethics Issues & Cases: Ch. 7

Media Economics: The Deadline Meets the Bottom Line

What struck me in this chapter was the final section titled, "Social Responsibility in the New Millennium." The story of Brad Clift who went to Somalia on his own will was inspiring. Then I thought, why is it so inspiring to be independent? Why aren't all journalists driven to go places and find truth that could benefit the world?

Under the code of ethics there are two "guiding principles" that speak directly to ethics of media economics that tell journalists to seek the truth and act independently. Why is such a simple concept so hard to comprehend? Our society has become so money driven with cut backs and seeking profit instead of seeking the truth. On the one hand, people aren't willing to take the risk when these larger conglomerates continue to monopolize all of the media. Under the stakeholder theory, a look at what benefits the community is more of an important factor instead of funneling money into large media conglomerates. It's sad that more journalists aren't taking the initiative like Brad Clift, or if they are, they are not being recognized as such. At the end of the day, the communities are left with only information sifted out through these media conglomerates that maybe aren't as important as other stories.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Media Ethics Issues & Cases: Ch.6

Mass Media in a Democratic Society: Keeping a Promise

There are three topics my mother taught me to always avoid in conversations. The first is money, the second religion and third politics. I've found that with the right company, you can get away with a lot. However, as a personal preference I tend to steer clear of politics as a general rule. It's not because I'm bored by the topic or uninterested, rather I simply don't know my facts. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that facts and truth regarding politics are hard to come by. This chapter does a great job of highlighting how the mass media effects our understanding of politics and agendas as a whole.

Politics aren't politics anymore because of the mass media. Appealing to the masses doesn't mean anything. Everything is a ploy to get votes. It's so frustrating how campaigns are run by "political characters", rather than actual politicians. Politicians aren't people who possess real values or have a legitimate opinion anymore because an opinion, in part, would mean it might disagree with the majority. Therein lies my biggest qualm; politicians are losing themselves to the media by stretching values in a way that will appease the majority. Honestly, if you have to stretch your value system and "perform" for the camera as this character, I don't want you leading our country.

In which case, I agree with Bok that an investigation of private character is necessary for the public to know. I think the criteria listed is valid as well. Invading the privacy of someone who prospectively wants to run our country is a "need to know" factor. However, I don't agree with campaigning tactics that are utilized to sabotage another candidates' credibility. If it happens to be the case that one candidate recognizes the other is truly a bad person, leave it to reporters and journalist to expose the truth. Hardcore truth is what we, as a public domain, are missing.

The chapter says that "most ethicists agree that the media's primary function is to provide citizens with information that will allow them to make informed political choices." I just have a hard time seeing past the drama of it all. It is a constant "food fight" between politicians trying to look better than the other, grazing over serious matters while they batt their eyes.