Thursday, April 24, 2014

Media Ethics & Issues: Ch. 3

Strategic Communication: Does Client Advocate Mean Consumer Adversary?

This chapter talks a lot about how susceptible audiences are to advertisements. It's interesting how the evolution of technology, public relations and advertising project new ethical issues that the public is not entirely aware of. The chapter begins by discussing how cookies and Web Beacons are used to gain insight into how to best market their product based on a user's interests. I think the relationship between "a room of requirement" and "a system of values" comes into play in regards to technology. Technology is great, but it can so often be used against us in order to fuel another's financial gain. I especially am interested in the fact that there isn't a solution to this other than thinking in terms of communitarianism, privacy, utilitarianism, etc. The solution relies on too many individuals to have an answer. The bigger picture of the chapter is more or less a reality check in regards to where we are heading in terms of advertising and public relations especially when the majority of audiences are supremely unaware of this new wave of strategic communication.

Communitarianism can be applied in explicit relation to the TARES process that does focus on the betterment of the public. What remains scary is the choice that advertisers have to abide by this system. Since communitarianism does focus on the individual and his or her acts, it circles back to their individual choice that may or may not influence the greater good of society. The choice also involves Kant's categorical imperative by recognizing advertising as a means to an end. Again, it is whether or not the means is used in a productive way to a positive end. In that sense, Utilitarianism can be applied to recognize the consequences of said action of advertising and marketing companies. What remains is a trial and error process involving this strategic communication that will ultimately determine the most ethically effective ways to engage audiences without undermining a lack of information and relinquishing productive and necessary tact.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Media Ethics Issues & Cases: Ch. 10

The Ethical Dimensions of Art and Entertainment

I like this chapter on a whole, but I mostly agree with the line that states, "Today, mass media have become the primary cultural storytellers of the era." I also agree that popular culture continues to elicit a decline in critical thinking skills. It is more than true that popular art is not nearly as thought provoking as it once was. There is a lack of motivation, not only by the artist to embed art with a critical edge, but as individuals to seek something more from art. Social media makes us lazy. Even in the way marketing and advertising firms rely on social media to do the work for them. There just seems to be a lack of quality to how we live our lives. We now find quality in numbers now. In social media, a quality post is one that gets a lot of likes. But who are we catering to with these likes? Do they make us individual or simply one in the same?

Ultimately, we cater to the masses. Through which we subconsciously attempt to universalize our thoughts in order to be applicable to the thousands. It's an accomplishment for a thousand people to relate to your post by liking it! I find it to be a bit ironic though. We think we are being unique by creating a funny text post or posting a selfie. Aren't we really just posting about something everyone already found funny or taking pictures in the same position and lighting as another picture that got a thousand likes? Are we artists in the respect that we are reinventing ideas in a relatable way?

To be an artist used to mean something. Poets were treated like celebrities and almost carried a heavier weight to their thoughts and ideals than political figures. Now, some crazy number, like less than 7% of people actually read poetry for leisure. Artists don't exist anymore because original thought doesn't matter. If individuals cannot see the message within something almost instantaneously, they won't take the time to look for it. Our culture is lazy.

I think that is primarily why the lines between entertainment and news have been blurred so much. News is competing with entertainment. The entertainment industry that is making news fun! Therefore, news outlets must in someway conform to the entertainment value of Steven Colbert or Jon Stewart in order to garner viewers. Through this we don't think about seeking truth anymore, rather we seek viewers. How many views can we get on this story? Does the story matter? Probably not, but we are going to make it matter even though war is going on and nobody really knows the ins and the outs of it because that political stuff is boring.

I think communitarianism is most applicable to the situation simply because it allows journalists to understand their institutional role and to evaluate their performance against shared societal values. For instance, the competition for reporting valuable news while seeking the truth is undermined by a reporters "right" to create news when there isn't any. Is reporting for entertainment value doing anything to help the community? Not really. From a utilitarian stance, if we recognize the ethical downfall of our actions based on future consequences, will we then recognize that there is a lack of community in mind? I don't know.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Media Ethics & Issues: Ch. 9

New Media: Continuing Questions and New Roles

I liked in this chapter that it combined the distinction of professionalism and how it effects the public's greater participation in a democratic society. The internet is a great place to learn about politics and gain a greater knowledge base for America's political system. However the capacity to develop a well rounded construct is eliminated when everything on the internet becomes personalized.

It is crucial, just as Sunstein says, that "people must be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance." I question the ethical value in advertisers and Google using algorithms to track what specifically might pertain to an individual. In doing so, they perpetuate a society that relies on short term gratification without thinking about a desirable end. John Mill's utility principle evaluates the outcome to an action as the "rightness" of the initial act. I think today especially, everything moves at hyper speed eliminating the opportunity to find an end that determines the "rightness" of these actions. We will all look back in 10 years and think, what have we done? I have no doubt a lot of our world will change for the better, but this sense control over political framing ultimately eliminates democratic values that are pertinent to sharing an accurate depiction of our political systems.