Media Ethics (Section 07)

About this class

Studies suggest that the average Canadian spends 31 hours online and 14 hours watching TV every week.  Many of us also listen to the radio while driving, read the newspaper in the metro, and are bombarded with advertising everywhere we go. It is therefore hard to deny that the media plays a major role in our lives. But the media is hardly ethically neutral and it presents us with moral conundrums on a daily basis. Journalists struggle to balance the need for privacy with the public interest when reporting a story; Hollywood Blockbusters have raised questions about the place of sexism and consumerism in popular culture; and communities struggle with the issue of universalism versus particularism in an increasingly global era.

This course is designed to engage with these and other issues. Conceptually, it is organized into 4 sections: 1) An Introduction to Ethics, 2) The Media and its role in Creating Normative Values, 3) Ethics and the Media in the Global Era, 4) and The Media, Democracy, and a Just Society. Assignments include a reflection paper, program-related posts to be made on an educational networking site called newsactivist.com, and a position paper and formal debate about WikiLeaks.

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by theonewhoknocks on May 7, 2015
Since the attacks on the twin towers in New York on September 11th of 2001, many steps have been taken to ensure that no such act would be committed again on US soil. Out of the destruction and hardship, came anger and frustration from the American people. They were appalled that such a terrorist act could have perspired on American soil and that with this notion came a sense of vulnerability. Thus the Patriot Act was created.

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by gbench on April 3, 2015
The media is possibly one of the most influential spheres of culture today, influencing what is relevant to society and what people think, talk and worry about (P. Hopkins 1). Understandably, the media is then a powerful source of information capable of shaping people’s knowledge, beliefs and prejudices. Here lies the industry’s massive responsibility of presenting all subjects with an ethical and objective frame that does not misinform the public. Unfortunately, I believe this task has been poorly executed; especially in the case of biotechnologies, namely, that of cloning.

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by VanessaSmith on April 1, 2015
The introduction of social media, through networks such as Facebook, twitter, Instagram and Tumblr has begun to incorporate itself into daily human life, as seen in the world globally. Social media is becoming a very important part of the larger society; adolescent teenagers spend several hours a day browsing through their feeds, posting pictures and updating their status.

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by Rupert Pumpkin on April 1, 2015
In today’s era of technology, media has become a crucial part of our lives. It surrounds us through various mediums such as TV, radio, Internet or newspaper. However, in recent years, the extent to which media permeates our lives has raised many concerns regarding the effects it has on our society. One such concern is the gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (abbreviated STEM) caused by the underrepresentation of women by the media.  

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by akls on April 1, 2015
           The conversation on climate change has been ongoing for years as it is a global issue and its coverage in the media has been widely prevalent in the Western media. Climate change is associated with changes in Earth’s temperature that “can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather.” (EPA) Scientists have been providing studies on such a rise in temperature as well as analysis that claim climate change is anthropogenic due to the high production of greenhouse gases.

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by bea on April 1, 2015
We are in the age of technology, where the majority of the population has access to the internet and uses it as a main source of information. On the other hand, people in today’s society are also very concerned with the environment and want to make a different by supporting ecological companies. Sensing the trend, many companies incorporate socially responsible messages within their websites and promote their philanthropy through social media in order to attract customers and generate a higher profit.

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by Evalina21 on April 1, 2015
There is a huge moral dilemma regarding advertisement of drugs through the media. It is a delicate matter since it involves putting someone’s health at risk. This explains why it is illegal to advertise prescription drugs in countries such as Canada due to certain ethical and health concerns. In fact, the only countries that allow direct user advertising are the US and New Zealand. Even though the sales people are trained professionals that follow strict laws, it still leaves a lot of room for potential problems.

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by rudmill on April 1, 2015
A 3D printer is a device that uses additive manufacturing, typically through a process of depositing heated polymer layer by layer in order to build 3D objects from a digital model file. In recent years, the development and proliferation of hobbyist and consumer grade additive manufacturing or 3D printing machines has opened up a whole world of possibilities. There are numerous off the shelf consumer grade 3D printers available as well as dozens of free do-it-yourself designs published online on websites such as reprap.org.

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by darkrose13 on April 1, 2015
Big companies tend to present themselves to the public in a way that always shows the best of them. Although, it makes sense to only put out the positive aspects, sometimes, they exaggerate in such way that the image the population has of the company is deeply biased. The media facilitates the advertisement of firms and sometimes helps them promote what they are not. Shell, an international oil industry has in 2010 mobilize every media element starting with the television and internet to printed sources and websites, in order to aggressively advertise their “new” self.

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by MelissaBlack on April 1, 2015
What comes to mind when you hear the word cancer? I think murderer. It might not kill everyone, but it can creep up on anybody and kill him or her. People ask why and how can we stop this? There is a way. Much like a killer, it takes a long time and hard work but eventually they can be stopped. With cancer, time and research can cure. In order to advance technologies, it takes a lot of money. This is where we come in and need to help donate in order to find a cure for this disease.

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by slv29 on April 1, 2015
With the increasing popularity of the Internet, new means of accessing various media such as music and movies are replacing traditional methods. Instead of relying on the radio or television, people tend to gravitate towards cheaper and more convenient alternatives like torrents and online streaming to access information. However, the emergence of these advantageous yet illegal websites has raised many questions surrounding the morality of this behavior.

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by 1330899 on April 1, 2015
Despite Africa still suffering from issues of abject impoverishment, endemic corruption, unstable infrastructures and institutions, Africa has definitely moved on from its dark imprints of colonialism and its repressive regimes to an arena of prosperity in terms of economic, social, and political advancements.

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by Heedee on April 1, 2015
Does celebrities power in the media influence society in an unethical way?

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by lulu on April 1, 2015
Does sexism in advertising influence the media in a troubling way? The media plays a huge role in the commerce program, especially in marketing. Marketing tries to sell products by conveying a message, and this is done best through advertising. However, sexism in advertising influences the media in a troubling way. When it comes to gender based advertising, there is either the issue of sexism or fulfilling stereotypes.

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by PerryVoyages on April 1, 2015
            In today’s television programs, many crime based TV shows are at the peak of what is being watched during night time television. This includes shows such as Castle, Criminal Minds, and the well-known CSI: Crime Scene Investigation to name a few. While these shows are entertaining for their viewers, there is a certain level of forensic evidence that is being presented in each program.

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by A.N. Onymous on April 1, 2015
In today’s modern society we are very fortunate to have access to the internet as well as other forms of technology since they facilitate the spread of knowledge and culture around the globe. With all the different types of media communications that presently exist they are able to effectively communicate messages (both voluntarily and involuntarily) about practically any given subject to millions of people within mere days. That being the case, that is not say that all of the messages communicated by the media have been represented in an ethical way. One vague example of such that might fall into this category would be religion since it has tended to clash fairly often in a variety of ways with modern technology. A more specific example could be found in recent history when there was a lot of controversy surrounding the Muslim religion, where the animosity that was once felt in the past could still be present today. So are the representations of the Islamic faith and culture in the media ethical? Ever since the devastating terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001 (informally referred to as 9/11), the media representations of Islamic culture and religion not significantly increased in number but drastically changed as well. The American “war on terror” ideology held the Islamic religion partly responsible for the civilian lives that were lost and resulted in fear/prejudice against the religion began to grow at an exponential rate among the American people and news and entertainment media. Consequently the media began stereotyping the religious observers of Islam in a multitude of negative ways, with the most prevalent being that of the radical Muslim insurgent. The insurgent is often depicted as someone who is determined on waging jihad (form of holy war) against Western people and culture (Mediasmarts). This stereotype usually represents violence as an inseparable part of being Muslim, as well as religion as justification for violent actions. A clear example of this stereotype being portrayed in the mass media can be seen in the character of Sayid Jarrah on ABC’s Lost. Jarrah is the only central Muslim character on the show and his backstory reveals to the viewer that he used to work for the Iraqi Republican Guard. That fact in it of itself does not particularly have any negative connotation towards Islam, but the stereotype is made clear when his character is frequently linked to violence which is shown when using torture to extract information from prisoners. Despite the fact that care is taken to deliberately show the viewers that Jarrah is now a member of an anti-terrorism squad and is therefore not an actual terrorist himself, his actions are repeatedly portrayed as unnecessarily violent thus strengthening the ties to the Muslim insurgent stereotype. A perfect example of Jarrah’s use of violence is seen in the multiple times he utilizes torture to extract information from his fellow castaways during times of social conflict. Essentially a central theme of violence is present throughout the show for six seasons and significant amounts of the violence in the scenes are found to revolve around the only character with ties to Islam (Mediasmarts). Another Islamic stereotype is centered on Muslim women where they are often depicted as being passive victims of male power imposed upon them. There is a fair amount of criticism from the media towards the Islamic religion for marginalizing women and for providing a disproportionate amount of power to men since acceptance of Islam is equated with women giving up equality and women’s rights are represented as being incompatible with freedom of religion. As a result of these portrayals, the most common words used to describe Muslim women by journalists and politicians are ‘segregated’, ‘beaten’, ‘insults’, ‘veil’, ‘freedom’, ‘religion’, ‘hatred’, ‘human rights’ and ‘extremism’. For concrete examples found in the media look no further than the crime dramas such as CSI or Criminal Minds where Muslim women are almost always represented as victims of male domestic violence. There may be examples where Muslim women’s having the role of a police officer in some crime films or television shows, but they are often cut short by a male authority figures who assert themselves and are shown to be in charge (Mediasmarts). Despite the fact there are negative representations of the Islamic faith in the media there are some shows that manage to portray in an accurate ethical way. One of the most famous being Little Mosque on the Prairie’s, a show focused on a Muslim community in Saskatchewan. The television program has received great praise from critics and has helped to dispel some of the common stereotypes facing the Islamic community. Another example of a positive representation of Islamic women is the X-Men character Dust, a strong Muslim woman who practices the religion while fighting for good alongside her fellow X-Men (Mediasmarts). To conclude there is no clear answer as the situation is longer as black or white as it may have been a few years ago. It is true that for most part the media representation of the Islamic faith and culture have improved, but that is not say that they are perfect as there is still much that can be done to avoid further stereotyping that is still present today. Works Cited Tallim, Jane. "Media Portrayals of Religion: Islam." Media Portrayals of Religion: Islam. Mediasmarts. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. .

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by rowen003 on April 1, 2015
Does capitalism affect the media in ethically troubling ways? Noam Chomsky believes so. In his book “Manufacturing Consent”(co-written by Edward S. Herman), which was later turned into a documentary; he argues: Mass media “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion.” (qtd in “Manufacturing Consent”, Wikipedia, 2015 )

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2 years 2 months ago

Giving friendship and affection to people which rarely receive these things because of their disorders, you must almost feel like a super hero. By giving happiness to others, not only do you help these people feel more confident and positive about themselves, you also give happiness towards yourself too. You even get new friends by volunteering with Parrainage Champlain! I find it very respectable that you've decided to give your time to help people like Amélie to feel happy and less alone in our society. The fact that one of your family members has down syndrome must've been quite a source of your determination to be able to give other people with disabilities the love they rarely or never received. The already strong experience that you've had with people with disorders is clearly shown in this post because not many people would offer to help these people in need, which is obviously a problem that should've been solved yesterday. I truly think that what you've done, even if it was for one person and it may have seemed small, was maybe one of the biggest things you could've done to help a person!

2 years 2 months ago

Reading your post is a good reminder to the reality of islamophobia and gender inequality that is present in our society. By participating as a volunteer in Justice Femme, you were able to face this reality by meeting a real victim of islamophobia, Hanane Mehdi. By listening to her voice and by sharing your experience with this non-profit organization on various social media and on this website, people will surely take the issue at hand more seriously, especially yourself as you were present at the conference and you have more knowledge on the situation than most people now. Also, it is really good that you have shared a video. Now, other people will be able to have the opportunity to understand a bit more how women that are affected by this kind of racism and inequality feel. Simply viewing the video is a sign of participation made by the community. Your post caught my interest because it reminded me about another issue that involves racism and gender inequality that i have written about recently. It may not relate directly with the issue of islamophobia that you've written in this post, but it does show how this kind of racism and sexism can affect a women in terms of education: http://newsactivist.com/en/articles/flacks-newsactivist-winter-2015-comp...
This link in relevant because it introduces another issue that can come along with the problem you've written about in your post as a volunteer.

2 years 2 months ago

Interesting and enlightening, this article gives hope that peace may someday be achieved. I could not agree more with what Dallaire suggests in his novels. It is imperative for the U.N to take a stand against the brutality of warfare and rid the world of child soldiers. Furthermore, the article makes a great point by stating that it is humanities moral obligation eliminate such cruelty. Indeed, I would stress the deontological and Kantian principles lurking behind the idea of peacekeeping. It is the world’s moral duty to preserve peace and to protect its inhabitants. Other moral frameworks, however, must not be forgotten. In fact, it would be great to add a paragraph concerning the morality of peacekeeping from a utilitarian and teleological perspective. These missions benefit the greater good of our community while the principle and summum bonum of global peace is ethically just. Lastly, while I am fully in line with the idea of increasing the U.N’s peacekeeping activity throughout the world, it is important to address the failures and vulnerabilities of these tactics in order to effectively strengthen your position and ultimately prove your opinion on the matter is justified. This paper could be greatly strengthened by illustrating how Canada increased its amount of soldiers while simultaneously decreasing their involvement in peacekeeping missions throughout the war in Afghanistan and the possibly negative outcomes this had on the war. Another way to validate your position is to mention Canada’s success in peacekeeping during the Suez crisis, the event that granted our nation its reputation as the world’s peacekeeper. Overall, I believe Dallaire’s story accurately reflects the need to shift U.N’s global policy towards one that views peacekeeping as a priority. It remains, however, imperative to dismiss contradictory evidence and justify these claims through the various ethical frameworks existing in today’s society. Global peace is humanities dream and this article provides the initiative to make that dream a reality.

2 years 2 months ago

I really like how you explained the issue. I completely agree with your conclusion because I find it true that people must ‘know their body’ in order to exercise in a safe way. In effect, over-exercising is not only scientifically-proven to be bad for your body, but it is unethical from a teleological point of view. Teleology (from the Greek ‘telos’ meaning ends) is a theory of ethics which determines an action ethical by evaluating the ends. In this case, the result people want is to be healthy, strong, and achieve that ideal body physique. However, over-exercising has more negative consequences than positive ones; the body is working out without the sufficient rest it needs in order for it to regrow, repair, and replace all types of cells. As well, the “do-it-yourself” tendency is unethical because performing physical exercises without the proper technique can lead to torn, pulled, and sprained muscles. Even though the intent is to become healthy, the consequences are quite serious. For this reason, over-exercising is unethical from a teleological perspective.

2 years 2 months ago

I really enjoyed reading your post about obesity. Especially since there has been a huge increase of obesity and diseases related to it in such a short period of time. You included statistics that I find quite alarming; the number of men and women who are overweight doubled in a period of 20 years. Also that the number of people that take part of physical activity has decreased incredibly. It is clear that something nationwide must be done. You also brought up an interesting argument from a journalist who believes that help from communities would be one of the solutions to decrease obesity. However, a great way to make your post stronger would be to evaluate and use arguments from the teleological perspective. Here is a website that will give you a proper definition of teleology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology. The Sommum Bonum, the end goal, would be to have the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Here the Sommum Bonum would be to lower the percentage of obesity. They would do so with the help of communities.

2 years 2 months ago

I really enjoyed reading your post on the lack of exercise in our everyday lives, it is important to be aware of the changes that are occurring in people’s everyday lives.In evaluating the issue concerning the growth of obesity amongst a population, I believe that your post truly captured the consequences of an increasingly inactive population. However, in considering the reason for why the obesity levels have increased, I do believe that a part of this has to do with calorie intake as well. With the emergence of technology, individuals have found easier ways to accomplish previously difficult tasks. Furthermore, when considering the social media’s part to the issue, the new trend is to post countless pictures of a their meals whether its on instagram, tumblr, pinterest or Facebook you see something new everyday. With so many photos of food being spread, we can conclude there may be a shift in eating habits from 1988 to 2010. People should start to be more energetic and active in order to stop the bad habits that have been occurring, if this continues who knows what will happen in the next coming years. As obesity is increasingly becoming more prevalent in todays world we should try to incorporate different programs and messages to ensure a change.

2 years 2 months ago

I find this subject of freedom of expression and privacy quite interesting as it has become a topic that resulted in a vast amount of polarized opinions. Furthermore, the emergence of WikiLeaks and ex-officials such Edward Snowden have underlined not only the need to address the issue of privacy of the individual but also the ethics behind the concepts of privacy and freedom of expression. The acknowledgement of Charlie Hebdo is a stellar example of the conflict between freedom of expression and privacy because the event itself can be seen as a reason for the French Government to crackdown on privacy and legislate anti-privacy laws which would justify security activities the government indulges in. Also the event undermines freedom of expression as it questions whether the concept allows for the mockery, caricature and potentially the stigmatization of a religion such as Islam. Although you suggest that the subject of privacy and freedom of expression can be analyzed through the scopes of political science, history, and psychology, it can also be analyzed through the scope of ethics as it begs the question whether the legislations that limit freedom of expression and privacy are morally justified. The mentioned Canadian legislation that prohibits the expression of religious views can be seen morally unjustifiable as it violates the fundamental rights of an individual to express and practice freely their religion. On the other hand, it can be seen as morally justifiable as, from a utilitarian perspective, it can be viewed as doing more good than harm by diminishing the threat of a terrorist attack or uprising thus ensuring security of its citizens.

2 years 2 months ago

This article is strong in terms of explaining the recent events that have occurred in the conflict in Mali. I found the specific examples of casualties that you provided to be extremely useful in understanding the scale of the problem. However, the article can be improved even further if you were to make your argument for the duty of other countries to send more aid and troops to Mali. As you mentioned, since the conflict began in Mali, several peacekeepers have been killed or wounded by attacks made by the extremists. At the same time, this also means that the various countries involved are becoming more hesitant to send in troops due to the possible level of danger posed to their troops. Citizens of those countries may also oppose involvement because the conflict is in Africa, far away from where they live. To respond, you could say that, from a deontological perspective, people have the moral obligation to obey certain principles. In this case, people have the duty to stop needless bloodshed whenever they can. Specifically, Immanuel Kat proposed the categorical imperative, which states that one should always do that which one wills everyone should do. Thus, if all the countries currently involved sends in more aid and troops to Mali, the conflict can be contained or even resolved more quickly. Hence, your article is already very informative, but can be made even more convincing if you had used ethics arguments to back up your points.

2 years 2 months ago

This article is strong in terms of explaining the difference between long-term homelessness and transitional homelessness. I found the statistics that you provided to be useful in understanding the scale of the homelessness problem in Canada. However, the article can be improved even further if you were to make your argument for the duty of the average citizen to help homeless people. As you mentioned, the 2008 recession increased the number of transitional homeless people. This also means that the economy overall became more strained compared to before, and citizens might feel that the money, either in the form of personal savings or in the form of tax dollars, could be better used on other areas of public interest. In response, you could say that, according to the deontological framework in ethics, people have certain moral obligations that they must always fulfill. In this case, people have a duty to help those less fortunate than them in whatever way that they can. Specifically, Immanuel Kant proposed the categorical imperative, which states that one should always do what one wills that everyone should do. Indeed, to combat homelessness, if every citizen contributed by donating according to their means, as if it were a universal law, then society would make much progress towards reducing homelessness in Canada. Thus, you could have used ethics arguments to call for action, which would have made your article much more persuasive. Overall, though, it is still very informative and convincing.

2 years 2 months ago

I agree with the concern you have about the Kardashian family but I feel that Bruce’s “stunt” isn’t done to promote his family’s’ show “keeping up the Kardashians”. I think that he is expressing himself through the use of his well-known name to bring awareness about an important subject. Since Bruce is always in the public eye, it’s a great opportunity for him to do some good in the world and spread awareness about an injustice. With the use of the Utilitarianism approach, doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, Bruce is exposing himself to the public for everyone to judge and scrutinize him for the greater good of society. By using his power to educate and raise awareness about transgender terms. He brings a lot of hope to others in the same situation, who are to scared to come out find guidance. Not only that but to also educate the society about the oppression and injustices they have received. Although many people find the idea of transgender as abnormal and is frowned upon, Bruce Jenner is bringing out an important issue in the hopes that people in today’s society start accepting them as equals and nothing different. Many people consider him a role model because of his inspirational story.

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