Media Ethics (Section 10)

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 swhite_3114 on April 4, 2015
Little girls from around the globe grow up watching Disney and aspire to be a future princess. I have myself grown up constantly watching Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella. The Disney franchise has a dominating presence in our children’s lives. This then leads for the franchise to have an immense influence on our children’s perception of what is right, what is wrong, and most importantly for young girls, what they should expect when they are older. Disney has provided a very distinct image of the female characters in their movies.

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by leboudoir on April 3, 2015
        In a democratic political system, people have freedom of speech, however, abusing such power, can lead to dangerous consequences. A recent controversy, which started in 1998, still causes confusion today, the research of Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist medical doctor who, under false pretenses, stated that the measles vaccine MMR causes autism in young children.

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by 10isfan77 on April 3, 2015
The Talking Climate’s article: “Climate Change Scepticism and the Media” presents readers with the multiple reasons why, despite scientific evidence, some people still remain sceptical about the debate surrounding climate change. The article explains how the media, who is supposed to provide society with clear and simple facts about the topic, has been divided into multiple groups with different views on the matter.  The article explains how scepticism is mostly seen in English speaking media and not so much in other languages.

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by Vicgtor on April 3, 2015
From your cellphone to your car, more and more devices are being controlled by software. This is a tendency which seems to be spreading around us at an amazingly fast speed. Micro controllers are being implemented in all kind of things, such as cookers, laundry machines, television sets and many more. This is done for convenience and in the past, few years we even saw the integration of Artificial Intelligence in our everyday lives. I am referring to Apple's well known Siri.

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by white_a5 on April 2, 2015
In recent decades the portrayal of war violence in Western media has become more regulated and less anticipated by audiences. The use of certain graphic images or detailed content concerning war is for the most part highly censored due to underlying ethical issues, as well as potential consequences this kind of mass exposure could have on audiences. In contrast, other audiences that are exposed to non-Western media outlets such as Al-Jazeera “quite reasonably [expect] gore and dead bodies to be part of war coverage” (Friedersdorf, 2013).

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by llll on April 2, 2015
It has only been a day since Anthony Stokes died of a car crash after a high-speed police chase. He had broken into an elderly woman’s home, fired shots and stolen her car.[1][2] When he lost control of the stolen car and crashed into a pole, it was not his heart that stopped, but one that was donated to him after a controversial battle to enlist him for heart transplant.

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by GeoKallo on April 2, 2015
Media is often criticized for being biased and not fully covering social issues. Accordingly, public opinion is frequently influenced and people start having biased beliefs as well. The Supreme Court of Canada choosing to allow the death of individuals by euthanasia and assisted suicide is one example of an issue tackled by the media, which has raised many concerns.

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by JayWest on April 2, 2015
The representation of African-Americans in American media is greatly criminalizing. As a matter of fact, the most important ethical issue raised by the social media twitter hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown is the portrayal and misrepresentation of African-Americans in the United States media through the pictures chosen to represent them. Thus resulting in a criminalization of the African-American people whereby this criminalization creates a sense of fear towards the black community. Criminalizing the black community also raises the issue of who is threatening who?

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by Satsuki on April 2, 2015
In today’s era of rapid development, more and more people care about their state of health. This particular attention to personal health status among the population gives food companies a chance to better promote their products. They put different labels showing health benefits that people may obtain by consuming their products and make advertisements by emphasizing those benefits. However, their labels are, often, misleading, since they only present the good side of the products and ignore other inconveniences.

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by Bubble on April 2, 2015
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods in which the DNA has been altered with the genetic material of other organisms, thus, allowing a lower price of production and a better resistance against plant diseases. In today’s society, GM products take a very big part in the food market. About 70% of all processed foods in the United States contain at least one genetically modified ingredient (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/science/gmfoods/).

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by astorinoa on April 2, 2015
In virto fertilization is performed when a couple who are attempting to have children but are incapable turn to seek professional help. This help entails fertility doctors removing an egg or several eggs from the woman. They are later fertilized and grow “in virto” (in glass) for a few days. After being successfully fertilized and developing in virto the embryos are then placed back into the woman where the pregnancy continues as normally. The problem with in virto fertilization arises with the leftover eggs.

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by Minion_Sparrow on April 2, 2015
As a student who always had a prevalent interest in the field of health and illnesses since elementary school, I watched medical dramas on television during my high school years. A medical drama is a show that is set in a hospital or any medical environment. One of the most popular shows of this genre is Grey's Anatomy, an American television series that airs on ABC. It focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and doctors who try to balance their personal lives and their professional lives.

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by Careyprice31 on April 2, 2015
Media has been a method that has influenced the public enormously. All of the information that is obtained, sculpts the world that society lives in. The various forms of media such as television, music video and the internet, allows people to envision a world depending on the content of these medias. Although, people tend to consider the media as being independent from political influences, that is not the case. In Canada, the content viewed by millions is, in fact, monitored.  

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by MickeyZ on April 2, 2015
Warning: may contain content certain readers may find objectionable All of the recorded human knowledge is accessible with something that fits inside your palms right now. The evolution of technology has always been in the direction of being more mobile and more intimate or personal. So the next level of intimacy from the smartphones is bound to be something that is even more mobile and more immersive, more in your face, literally. Welcome to the age of augmented and virtual reality.

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by magickarp on April 2, 2015
Are representations of Native Advertising in the media ethical?

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by D.Ret on April 2, 2015
There has been a growing movement recently that believes that vaccines should not be mandatory, that they should be able to refuse vaccines for personal or religious reasons. In the media this is generally represented as a matter of freedom, they argue that they should be free to refuse to vaccinate their child. They argue that vaccines may be dangerous and as such they should be able to avoid them. Portraying vaccines as possibly dangerous, and as a personal choice, is extremely irresponsible.

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by mg.2323 on April 2, 2015
Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC and “sharkette” on the hit show Shark Tank, never pictures herself as a women in business. “Gender doesn’t factor in.,” she says. Does this have something to do with the common stereotype that women are not as powerful as men and she avoids the whole debate by taking the gender out of it?  This discrimination of women in the business world still exists but is slowly deteriorating over time. More and more women are being put in positions of power such as American Apparel fired a male CEO and replaced him with a female CEO Paula Schnieder.

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by AH78 on April 2, 2015
The Big Bang Theory is an American TV show screen written by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. The show depicts the daily lives of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, Howard Wolowitz, Raj Koothrappali, Bernadette Rostenkowski, Amy Farrah Fowler and Penny. Of these seven characters, six work in the domain of science. Sheldon and Leonard are both physicists; Howard is an aerospace engineer; Raj, an astrophysicist; Bernadette, a microbiologist, and Amy, a neuroscientist. Among these scientists, Howard is the only one without a PhD.

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8 months 4 days ago

Hello Francois! This reply coming over a year later, sorry! Thanks for commenting; I've always been amazed by the incredible medical strides humans can take. I guess you could say it is both terrific and terrifying, as humans walk a tightrope over morally ambiguous gray areas, with something as tenuous and precious as human life. One could call us presumptuous for daring to try and manipulate the creation of life, cry foul for opening the door wider for eugenics, or, on a more intimate level, the psychological effect on the parents and child should something go wrong. But where can you draw the line for justified sacrifice in human advancement? Restricting human's innate need for knowledge and further exploration practically guarantees that someday, somewhere, that restriction will be broken. I guess we're back at the enduring existential question of the true value of life, knowledge, and what a fair price is for either.

Now look who's writing a formal essay comment! There I go, off on a tangent again...

About my surname- it's Polish. There's no perfect way to describe it phonetically in English, but the closest pronunciation I can describe is: 'hshow- shch - kova'.

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

This is a very interesting post, as it sheds light on a moral dilemma that many people are faced with. Indeed, deciding whether someone should keep being treated or should stop treatments is not an easy choice. In order to consent to treatment, patients have to be mentally able to make a decision for themselves. According to the law, children of the age of 16 and older have the competency to consent to treatment. If the child is not considered legally capable of making his or her own decision, then it is the parents’ responsibility to do so. Therefore, making the decision to stop treatment should also follow the same principle. In this specific case, the girl in question and her mother wanted to end her chemotherapy treatments. The only way their wishes should have been ignored is if they were both deemed incompetent to make that choice. From a utilitarianism perspective, if the end goal of the girl was to stop suffering from her treatments, she should have been allowed to end that. However, using the utilitarianism principle from the Supreme Court’s point of view, their goal was to try to save her life. Considering that the girl’s chance of survival was pretty high was probably the factor that influenced the Court’s decision. It is nonetheless crucial not to consider the situation in a statistical manner only, as the girl was clearly suffering to the point that she did not believe that the treatments were worth it.

2 years 2 months ago

I found your topic very interesting as I myself a few years back have noticed the ability to sign behind my medicare card to give consent for my organs to be eligible for donation. You have clearly explained one side of the issue. This is an extremely complicated dilemma as, you have mentioned, through a utilitarian point of view, this problem seems like a no brainer: you are no longer in need of your organs, why DON'T you do the selfless act and give them to someone who is in desperate need of one to continue living?

However, there is something you haven't thought about more profoundly. There is the other side of the coin: one's right to their own organs. Not only is there a religious factor involved in the matter, there is also the dilemma one goes through in giving up a piece of themselves, a piece so pure of who they are, and not knowing who is going to use them, how will they use them, if they will treat it properly, etc. I have read the CNN article you have provided and it would seem as though the black market is another worry on people's minds. Once you are deceased, you have no control or say on what happens to your body: you become powerless. Therefore, allowing someone to cut you open, retract a vital part of who you are, and doing whatever pleases them is extremely worrying to people. It can almost be compared to the donation of money to charities, to those in need, or those who ask monetary favours. The idea is compelling and so righteous, it would seem like a no brainer.
If my opinion does not convince you enough to see the reason as to why there is a moral dilemma with organ donors, let me demonstrate this with an ethical framework: the ethical relativism. This framework explains how depending on your culture, not all moral principles are valid.

Therefore, your thesis is strictly your opinion but you must bear in mind that one’s moral beliefs can not overcome those of others.

2 years 2 months ago

Your topic is very interesting, however your moral perspective seems too contrasted, without too much moral nuance. You have mentioned that the measures taken are minimal, however those taken by the NSA in the USA are not limited to terrorist suspect surveillance. In fact, they have a 3 hop policy, which basically means an extremely large percentage of the American population is under constant surveillance. Thus, is it morally justified to breach American citizens' Constitutional Rights of privacy and freedom? Should a teacher punish their entire classroom because one student has written insults about them on the board? From a teleological point of view, the NSA's actions are still moral. First of all, people will self-censor because they know they have less liberty and privacy, which causes a general sense of suffering in society. Therefore, the absence of suffering in a teleologicl summum bonum will fail. Moreover, although national security is a summum bonum that society aspires for, we cannot predict what the NSA could do with all that information. Therefore, the NSA's measures are simply too risky and unpredictable.

2 years 2 months ago

Hey! Wow! What a great article! I especially love your usage of popular movies to convey the context of your article as well as letting your readers understand such a complex situation more easily.

This subject is very interesting to me because the domain of artificial intelligence is advancing at an accelerating pace. We definitely need more articles like this in order to face moral and ethical problems that we will surely face in the near future.

It can be argued, however, that your examples are not representative of the media's true opinion about artificial intelligence. Of course, in these movies the AI turn against their creators in order to create an intriguing storyline. Do not forget that other movies depict artificial intelligence for what they can potentially be: useful and thinking, made to help us and to improve our society. Take, for example, the movies Interstellar and Moon. These two movies have successfully shown how artificial intelligence is a key component to their crew, wherein the robots save lives and think outside the box.

You can also interpret the negative side of the movie's opinions in a teleological perspective: these movies exist in order to raise awareness about the strength of AI and how we must set specific rules and regulations in order for those scenarios to never happen.

Again, great article, friend!

2 years 2 months ago

I like that you point out that we should have trust in our government. If we do not trust the leaders of our country, then who can we trust? But an important point I want to bring up is the effectiveness of these surveillance policies. Many of these policies do not prove to be useful in stopping actual terrorists whose main goal is to not get caught. Instead, these programs capture the everyday normal person who may innocently get trapped. Terrorist invest a lot of resources into covering their tracks and therefore they are less likely to be caught, whereas it is very possible for the everyday citizen to get tangled in this program which would waste a lot of their time as well as resources of the government.
At the same time, you must consider that when the population knows that you are surveying them that they will self-censor themselves and change the way the live and act online. This intrudes the fundamental freedom of conscience as the thoughts of individuals are going to be changed because they know that someone is observing them.
You argue from a deontological point of view as it is the intention that deems that action of surveillance to be moral and not the consequence. But in this case, the consequence may not always be moral as I have said with the issue of self-censorship and inefficiency in achieving the goal. Therefore with these counterarguments could mean that this upcoming bill could be ethically wrong.

2 years 2 months ago

Your post brings to light important issues regarding the homeless situation. I was not aware of how numerous the homeless population was in Canada, nor was I aware of the issues that Canada has regarding transitional homelessness. You are right in saying that people who are homeless are more deserving of a spot in a homeless shelter compared to those who are transitional homeless. The alternative option of building more transitional houses is better suited for the families who have suffered through a tragedy of this kind. Despite this those who are homeless are sometimes deserving of living in these homes since they have suffered through the most. Looking at this issue from a utilitarian perspective it does not matter who receives the chance to live in these homes, as long as homeless people are being helped out it is considered morally right. Following a teleological perspective, similarly to utilitarianism this process is morally sound. There may be issues with a deontological point of view since people are deciding who are deserving of living in these homes and many are left out to live in shelters. Your solution to prevent further cutting from the program is a possible solution as it allows for more homes to be built, giving people more of an opportunity to live in these homes.

2 years 2 months ago

I like how you briefly discussed the opposition’s perspective and that you acknowledged that it is in fact a complex topic. I strongly believe that women should have control over their body and not be judged or punished for the decisions they make. In fact, limiting or banning abortion has led women to put themselves at risk by trying to get rid of the unwanted fetus. Some desperate measures include ingesting chemicals, throwing themselves down a flight of stairs, hitting themselves in the stomach, etc. Not only do these women harm themselves, but should the fetus survive, the risk of the baby being born with abnormalities significantly increases. In addition, an unwanted baby might completely mess up a woman’s life. For example, some women might not be able to continue their education, or might lose their job. These negative consequences might lead women to blame their unwanted baby, thus endangering the child. Moreover, the opposition might suggest adoption as being a better solution. While adoption is an amazing concept, some do not realize the repercussions that it might have on some people. In fact, some women might feel guilty for the rest of their lives because they feel that they simply abandoned their child. The teleological ethical theory suggests that the end goal of an action should define people’s actions, and the utilitarian branch suggests that the greatest good for the greatest number should be the end goal. In this situation, allowing women to get an abortion would prevent them from harming themselves and missing out on various opportunities. Keeping abortions legal would also prevent some children from having a miserable life. Ultimately, whether or not a woman gets an abortion only concerns her and her future baby, therefore women should be allowed to make a decision that will ensure her and her unborn child the greatest good, thus abortion should stay legal.

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