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 HoudRank on April 2, 2015
      Let us take a minute to dream and fantasize about an ideal world where problems of race and religion simply do not exist. A world where neither holy books define us, nor skin color integrates or disintegrates us. We are just humans and only our actions define us. However, this dream cannot possibly last long, we live in the real world. Where religion and race are notions that many people experience conflict over. Mocking someone’s racial background never ends well. This is something sensitive, it is a connection deeply embedded with the idea of our own existence.

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by C_aan0720 on April 2, 2015
One of the main advantages of the media is that information is easily accessible. A few clicks allow us to be exposed to different stories from all around the world. This is why we mostly get all our knowledge from the media now. All of this information can be used to help us construct our own opinion on a multitude of issues. Therefore, the media has the important role to inform us correctly and to present all of the nuances when giving us information on any subject. However, often times the media tends to focus on the “wow factor” more than anything else.

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by umar on April 2, 2015
The Internet can be accessed through almost every electronic device, which means that all of the world’s knowledge is tightly packed into our pockets. This cannot possibly be a bad thing, right? Sadly, sometimes things get out of hand. Some dishonest people claim that they are experts after reading a few articles. The list of self-proclaimed experts on the Internet is endless, and the fields of their “expertise” ranges from marketing, to fitness, and even health and nutrition.  

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by g_smith on April 2, 2015
An article on Quartz discusses an important ethical issue. In February 2014, the Representation Project started a campaign on twitter called #Askhermore which encourages rep carpet reporters to ask female actors more meaningful questions about their career and causes rather than their appearance. The campaign has gained public support from many female actors such as Amy Phoeler and Reese Witherspoon. The most typical question female actors receive is “Who are you wearing?” and the #Askhermore campaign is trying to eliminate that question.

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by do not feed the... on April 2, 2015
Just like rumors of a hookup between two students travel a high school at the speed of light, news coverage on shocking scientific discoveries can get global coverage in a matter of hours. The omnipresence of science in the media is found in the wide array of documentaries seen on television, but also as news coverage on emergency health reports on emerging diseases. Moreover, the name of science is often relied upon as an authoritative figure putting a moral seal of approval on health products.

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by Silver- on April 2, 2015
The Media have become our news reporters where billions and billions of people rely on the media to provide us with information in order to keep us up to date.  The Media informations are available to us in many different formats where they help incorporate a wide variety of information to us on a daily basis.  A media source in particular that has come to my attention is Twitter.  Twitter allows sharing of pictures, conversations and it has become a concern from an ethical point of view.

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by Alina Chrzaszczkowa on April 2, 2015
It would be a feat indeed to find someone today unaware of the Ebola epidemic that grips Western Africa. Since the disease emerged in Guinea in February of last year, it has spread to other African countries, most notably Liberia and Sierra Leone, and claimed thousands of lives, throwing the countries involved into political and social chaos (“Ebola basics: What you need to know”). The breakout of this epidemic, the most severe case of Ebola since its discovery forty years ago, took the media by storm (“Ebola basics: What you need to know”).

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by Locke on April 2, 2015
I will always remember a scary scene I experienced when I got off the metro on my way back from highschool. Two emergency responders were hunched over a man who was having a seizure, saliva running down his face. As I walked up the stairs slightly shocked, a stranger approached me and said: "Don't do drugs, kid. That's what drugs do to you." I recognized the good intention, yet, I was startled: the man had been having an epileptic seizure, not overdosing on drugs. In effect, mass populations are very uneducated when it comes to mental illness.

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by Chocolatelover on April 2, 2015
          In The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway plays Andy, a simple looking girl, who is hired as a successful businesswoman’s assistant, Miranda Priestly, at the well-known Runway Magazine. Over the course of the film, Mrs. Priestly is presented as an apathetic woman, who is always dressed to impress. Although she is successful in her career, being the editor and chief, Miranda is failing in her personal life, while in the middle of her third divorce. On the other hand, Andy is very much in love with her boyfriend and is adored by friends and family.

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by kells_95 on April 2, 2015
      On January 28, 2015, Bell Canada launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, with the goal of getting millions of social media users all around the world to talk about mental illness, thus raising awareness towards this issue. The company stated that they would donate 5 cents towards mental health initiatives for every text message sent, tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and Facebook share of their Bell Let’s Talk image.

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by Malcolm Hughes on April 2, 2015
Drug representation in the general media can certainly not be singularly identified, simply because of how mixed transmitted messages are from medium to medium. In the news, for instance, it is often the case that any mention of drugs is associated with criminality and wrongdoing. Government anti-drug televised advertisement campaigns are also not uncommon. However, in the entertainment industry – including film and music – drugs are so often normalized or even celebrated in many instances.

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by webbie2 on April 2, 2015
A moral dilemma in the field of science which is not as hotly debated as other topics such as abortion or euthanasia is the issue of cloning. There are three different types of cloning: molecular cloning, therapeutic cloning, and reproductive cloning. Of the three types, therapeutic and reproductive cloning are the ones which cause the moral dilemmas. Therapeutic cloning is taking embryonic stem cells from an embryo and using it to help treat diseases. Reproductive cloning is putting a cloned embryo into the uterus in order to fertilize the egg.

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by white1 on April 2, 2015
“Women represent the majority of young university graduates, but are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM) fields” (Hango). In our culture, there still exist stereotypes that surround women scientists in the media, such as: females are less skilled than males in scientific fields; female scientists are unfashionable or sexy, too emotional or cold.

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by Hanafian on April 1, 2015
In a perfect world, the media would be unbiased and would simply inform people of certain events and issues, instead of feeding them opinions. In the real world, this does not hold true. Because of the media’s powerful influence and presence, almost anything that they display is taken to heart, and strongly affects a population’s thoughts and beliefs. The media needs to act responsibly when informing the population, as to not cause damage or distress to a significant sample of the population at large.

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by Skyblue5 on April 1, 2015
The evolution of technology has always been an active field in the media. Indeed, the curiosity of humankind for innovations has constantly pushed it to try to learn more about this specific area of science. Lately, news about the approaching era of robots with artificial intellect have been the center of several debates. The main question remains about whether or not automatons should be given a consciousness. In fact, future issues with the development of those machines have been identified, which splits the opinion of certain specialists.

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by kells_95 on February 16, 2015
      Picture this: One day, you decide to go knock on someone’s door and when they open, you’re ready to sell them your product. Just when you think you got their attention, they tell you that they already got that same product off of someone else…but for free. How would you feel? Wouldn’t you feel somewhat violated knowing someone is giving away your product for free? Streaming music online is only picking up its momentum and the U.S music industry keeps breaking sales…but perhaps, the wrong kind.

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by C_aan0720 on February 12, 2015
  When it comes to issues concerning the sanctity of life, many conflicting opinions arise. Embryonic stem cell research, for instance, is not accepted by everyone. While some people believe that this type of research is necessary because it can lead to saving lives and alleviating suffering, others think that the use of embryonic stem cells does not respect human life.  

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by Alina Chrzaszczkowa on February 10, 2015
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a practice that has raised several ethical questions since its introduction. IVF is essentially the fertilization of an egg in a controlled environment outside the body, after which the fertilized egg is then replaced into a woman’s uterus (“In Vitro Fertilization: IVF”). The practice is common for infertile individuals wishing for offspring (“In Vitro Fertilization: IVF”). Normal IVF uses genetic information from one man and one woman (“In Vitro Fertilization: IVF”).

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by E_Factor on February 10, 2015
 

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by umar on February 10, 2015
Science and technology simplify our lives. Machines are replacing human labour, and programs are mimicking the human brain, but where do we draw a line? Adoption used to be the only option for infertile couples, but In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has recently become another option to consider.

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3 years 6 months ago

This is a very well written piece with a significant amount of detail which additionally gives the readers an underlying understanding of the subject. Overall, the different information that you presented furthermore enhances your argument. This is a side of chemotherapy that I had no knowledge of which changes my ethical perspective.

The teleological perspective observes the outcome of an action. To be more specific, the utilitarianism approach determines that a persons actions must lead to a greater happiness. This utilitarian theory would view the force-meant of chemotherapy on a patient immoral.
It is unethical due to the fact that the doctors go against the patients wishes. So, if not receiving chemotherapy leads to greater happiness, thus it is good in these circumstances. In the case of Makayla Sault, she did not undergo chemotherapy, but yet she still lived her life to the fullest. She achieved her own personal happiness by rejecting the treatment. To respect an ill patients wishes is their greatest happiness.

Unlike the teleological perspective, the deontological perspective does not value individuals human rights. It looks at the consequences of ones actions. This is immoral since patients should have the authority to make their own decisions since it is their life.

Therefore, the teleological perspective allows for the ill to make their own judgements. They have the right to decide whether or not they will follow up with chemotherapy or not. This will lead to a greater happiness due to the fact that the patient makes their own decisions over their way of healing.

3 years 6 months ago

You have chosen a very interesting subject. I agree with you in that there are two sides on this issue that should indeed be more elaborated and that the article doesn’t really go into depth. However I think you should research better next time, since some of your info is inaccurate. First of all, euthanasia is not legalized in Canada but the demand has been submitted. Another issue is your formatting. Make sure that all of your text has the same font size. The problem you are outlining here is a moral ethical dilemma, meaning making the right decision following an ethical framework. It can be either from a teleological (ex: Utilitarianism) or deontological (ex: Kantianism) perspective. For example, in this case the church’s view is deontological since it follows a set of maxims (i.e. rules). Also, your first sentence of your conclusion is extremely vague. After reading the article, I noticed that by the end they were suggesting that there should not be a complete ban on euthanasia. I don’t agree with that since on what moral background can they then decide who needs a ban and who doesn’t. So, this is not a solution, it’s not solving anything.

3 years 6 months ago

First I would like to say that you make several excellent points against the death penalty. The death penalty is an ineffective punishment; the states that use it also tend to have the highest crime rates. That supports the view that it is a useless punishment as it doesn't even help prevent crime. Additionally, due to the massive legal costs and sheer number of appeals made, it doesn't end up saving the government money.
Where I disagree with you is the idea that it should be replaced with life imprisonment. The penal system is designed to punish criminals for their actions, and from a utilitarian perspective this is wrong. Even though they have done wrong the goal should not be to punish them, to make them unhappy. Instead, the goal should be to rehabilitate the ones who have committed crimes. This new mindset is especially needed in the states where they have a huge prison population, many of whom go on to offend soon after being released. In Norway, for example, the prisons are focused on trying to change the criminals into functional members of society. Because of this, I don’t believe that life sentences are necessarily the answer. People can change and, while there are some who will never be able to function in normal society, many of the people currently in prison have the potential to be something more than a criminal.

3 years 6 months ago

The article you wrote provides a very good understanding of the state of homelessness in Canada. As you said, the major problem does not reside in the increasing number of homeless people, but instead in the extended period that those individuals stay in the shelters intended to help them. In your article, you propose that the public should support the construction of transitional housing to remove the non-chronic homeless people from the shelters created for the chronically homeless populace. However, you do not further explain how those transitional houses differentiate from the typical shelters. The name suggests that admitted individuals will only be allowed to stay for a limited time, but it does not specify how the length of that period will be determined.

To confront this matter, you can use a utilitarian approach. Based on the teleological framework in ethics, this system aims more specifically to provide the greatest good for humanity. In the case of homelessness, humanity does not only include the homeless public, but also the rest of the citizens. According to the CBC article that you used for your post, shelters for long-term homeless people “account for more than half of the resources of the homelessness system”. Thus, a great portion of the taxes paid by the working population to support the current shelters mostly goes to those chronically homeless individuals. From this perspective, you can argue that transitional homes would contribute to reduce the costs of the homelessness system, which represents a benefice for the entire society.

Indeed, to satisfy everyone, it is necessary to find an appropriate center. The most important part involves the transitional houses. Those institutions need to set a program to maximize the reintegration of those “transitional homeless”. The faster those people start to work again, the less time they will spend in those transitional houses, which reduces the costs of those establishments. The second part requires, as you mentioned, the financial contribution of the non-homeless population. However, we want to reduce the needed amount of resources to please also the working citizens. Once that middle is established, the society would function more efficiently and be more cost-effective in regard of that matter. Nevertheless, since that perfect line has not being discovered yet, your final argument could be that transitional housing focuses on finding an adequate middle to beneficiate both transitional homeless and non-homeless people.

Reply to: Riot In Baltimore
3 years 6 months ago

First, thank you for bringing up a very current and relevant issue, the fact that the riots have caused such drastic actions from the government is a sure sign that something big might be happening in Baltimore. However, I’d like to address the fact of the matter that it is not exactly police brutality that is being protested. Police brutality is an ongoing issue in the United States, however, it was more of a general negligence that caused someone in police custody to die. There’s evidence of the death of Freddie Gray was originally caused by what could be self inflected wounds. It doesn’t seem like there’s a defined Summum Bonum, in fact, I don’t see the point at all in destroying your own city by rioting, and actions like arson and looting. Hundreds of people have been arrested, flooding the system as a result. The problem here is to fight the police with violence, and destructive actions that will only harm the society. The final goal isn’t established, there’s no “greater good” that the rioters are looking for, it just seems like people blowing off steam. I think to have any chance of a better future and stricter regulations on police officers, there needs to be a civil and peaceful conversation.

3 years 6 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.

3 years 6 months ago

I think that your post is extremely effective in shedding light on the issues that lie within capital punishment, shows what the people think, and gives a good representation both opposing sides.

In support of your stance against the death penalty, I think that using the law of retaliation could help set a good base for your arguments. This means arguing that, if by capital punishment we are showing that we condemn murder, killing the perpetrator as a means to achieve justice is extremely contradictory. Killing a murderer consequently creates another murderer in the process.

Another argument I think could be interesting would be that the death penalty does not discourage crime, and as you presented, a considerably better alternative would be life imprisonment. Capital punishment is a public and dehumanizing act, that was proven not to affect crime rates. This puts into question why such a barbaric act has to be committed when it is non-impactful.

In addition, there are so many other risks and disadvantages that come with capital punishment. The death penalty increases taxes, there is a certain percentage of murder charges that do end in capital punishment as a result of random choice or external factors (i.e: having a bad lawyer), and it is a possibility for the mentally ill and wrongfully convicted people to be subject to the death penalty. The residing issue here is that we are dealing with someone’s life and once this sentence has been applied, it cannot be taken back.

Ultimately I strongly agree with you, and think that the death penalty should be abolished, and in turn, we should try find ways to prevent the issue from occurring, rather than continuing with a non-impactful solution.

Reply to: Balancing Powers
3 years 6 months ago

Hello The Nommz! This article is very informative and effectively communicates the essential information one needs to understand the proposed Austerity measures in Quebec. It is always interesting to read about austerity as it is a concept many are opposed to, yet it continues to be used as a solution for many countries’ debt problems. You are right to be wary of the proposed cuts to education and healthcare in the province; social services such as these are essential to keep the population healthy and well educated two important qualities of a healthy society. Quebec already has deficiencies in these services (most notably healthcare); therefore, cutting funds for essential services that are already at risk is more likely to set Quebec on an even more slippery slope than it is already with its debts. Here, it is really a question of whether austerity is an effective and moral tool for balancing provincial and federal budgets. Is cutting these types of services justifiable? After all, not only the general population depends on them, but the effectiveness of these services also directly influences the success (present and future) of the nation. Thus your concerns are legitimate and important; balancing the country’s budget by imposing austerity measures is not a viable answer, but rather could contribute to further monetary and social problems.

3 years 6 months ago

Great post and I totally agree with you on the fact that it creates a certain pressure on young girls to attain impossible standards of beauty especially now that the media has reached a “pervasive” degree of omnipresence in our lives. Not only that, it also dictates the behavior and extremely stereotypical gender roles of women in society; being gracious and delicate, do choirs, sing songs, being vain, talk to animals, be innocent, fragile and passive. Especially Sleeping Beauty, the whole story revolves around her, but she spends the whole movie passed out, waiting for her prince to save her and deliver her from the tower to live happily ever after. However, keep in mind that it was a movie released in 1959 just as Snow White was released in 1937 and Cinderella, 1950 and so on. During that period, the mentality was not the same and the woman was in a way financially dependent from the man because after Second World War, there was not a lot of working or education opportunities for women. Their most important asset to achieve financial stability was their physical appearance in order to marry. Most of them were full-time mothers and housewives. The Disney movies just as any movie would reflect the culture and mentality of the society they were produced in. The princesses are outdated and no longer represent the normative female model of our society, but they are still classics that remain as cultural heritage. Disney is aware of that and they have been recently producing princesses movies that young girls of the present generation can relate to such as Frozen where Anna leaves to go build her own glace castle, we see much more independent female protagonist and an emphasis on female empowerment. As for the pressure of the Disney princess beauty standards, beauty standards have always been existent throughout history, but its inevitable increasing intensity comes along with emergence of media. In sum, Disney is not the only actor responsible for the pressure and the harm done to the young girls. Therefore, self-confidence and awareness should be raised among girls so the effects of media pressure would be diminished.

3 years 6 months ago

I find this issue very disturbing and I find your political approach very effective. As a matter of fact, I agree with the fact that Obama has essentially not recognized the Armenian genocide solely because of the alliance between the United States and Turkey. I say that the best way to approach this issue in order to build a better world would be to look at it from a deontological point of view. This atrocity, declared by many historians as genocide, is a crime against humanity. “On a deontological conception of ethics, the study of what it is right and wrong to do in conduct of life yields conclusions about what actions a person is duty-bound to perform.” (Deigh 14) It is thus Obama’s duty, along with all other nations who have not yet recognized this genocide, to acknowledge this historic incident. Obama promising the Armenian people the recognition of the genocide and then not keeping his promise is ethically unjust and must change. It’s his duty to keep his promise and also to bring justice to the Armenian people. In order to be performing an ethically good deed, every nation should also therefore acknowledge the Armenian genocide, consequently fulfilling their duty of doing the right thing and punishing those who commit crime against humanity!

Deigh, John. “What is Ethics,” 4-16 in An Introduction to Ethics (New York: Cambridge, 2010)

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