Media Ethics - Summer 2015

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. Students must therefore formulate their opinions as to whether or not the WikiLeaks project is morally just in advance of a classroom discussion designed to challenge their conclusions and encourage them to reformulate their ideas and/or reinforce their arguments. Content will be delivered through a combination of lectures and in-class activities, and a participation mark will be assigned.

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by Hank Moody on June 22, 2015
Social media is extremely hazardous. Even though many people who use it aren’t even aware of the affect it is having on them, and society in general, it is becoming more and more detrimental to the self-esteem of its users. In this post I will be talking specifically about Instagram, which is a social media app where users post pictures and their followers are able to like and comment on these pictures. Being a user of the site for the past few years I’ve noticed how much the posts on the app affect the self-esteem of users.

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by 人◕ ‿‿ ◕人 on June 20, 2015
On September 10th, 2013, Fox News uploaded a video entitled “Link between teen killers and violent video games?” where they seem to suggest a correlation between violent video games and violence. This raises the question; does playing violent video games promote violence? In this essay, I will attempt to discuss this issue .

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by M.Byford on June 19, 2015
What constitutes Art is a complicated subject to define to begin with; but when artists begin to appropriate other peoples work the lines become even more blurred. This issue has recently been brought to light within social media when a man by the name of Richard Prince appropriated other peoples Instagram photos, without their knowledge or consent, blew up the images onto to portraits and then with minimal editing (nothing was done except the addition of a sentence to look like he had ‘commented’ on the photograph), he sold these images for upwards of 90’000 dollars.

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by Dank Woes on June 19, 2015
            In today’s society, the media, whilst still being an intangible concept that is difficult to define, has become a force powerful enough to connect the entire population of the planet, turning thoughts into actions, and actions into change.  Being able to greatly amplify one’s voice through platforms such as the radio, newspapers, television etc. is both a blessing and a curse: with access to the rapid and easy spread of information also comes an enormous amount of responsibility.  

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by Woe Number One on June 18, 2015
In today’s society, celebrities are under the watchful eye of the millions of fans that support them. However, just because they have millions of supporters does not justify everything they do. This being said, should celebrities be morally obliged to be good role models? This article will use two different ethical views, virtue ethics and teleology, to analyze the question at hand.  

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by ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ノ baruch... on June 18, 2015
Today, millions of people use the Internet for its multifaceted purpose. For example, we use the Internet for social networking, listening to music, and file sharing (whether done legally or illegally). As such, since one has the ability to share music to countless amounts of people around the world, there has been an emergence of musicians and producers who have started using a method of creating music known as digital sampling. According to John Lindenbaum, this process “allows a musical artist to appropriate sound from a previously recorded work and incorporate it into a new work” (1).

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by I wonder what t... on June 18, 2015
First of all, what is the “Right to be forgotten”? In short, it’s a data protection regulation that states that a “person can ask for personal data to be deleted once that data is no longer necessary“ (“Factsheet on the "Right to Be Forgotten” Ruling.” 2). Essentially, if there is information about you online that you consider irrelevant, outdated, or unnecessary, you can make the request that that information be deleted.

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by RunningThroughThe6ix on June 18, 2015
           It is a clear and known fact that women in media are often seen as the object and not the subject. Women have been fighting for decades to gain the equality that is well deserved, but when people like Robin Thicke come along, all the blood, sweat, and tears that those women went through to get to where we are today sets society years back. In 2013 Robin Thicke created a very controversial and demeaning song and music video called “Blurred Lines”.

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by Lilith Franco on June 18, 2015
Bruce Jenner, oh excuse me that name no longer applies, Caitlyn Jenner who was once a gold-winning Olympian athlete and the stepfather to the Kardashian clan recently went under the knife to have gender re-assignment surgery. The moment her Vanity Fair cover came out, the media was buzzing, many in support and some more critically than others. Social media websites, newspapers and blogs started debating both sides.

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by user123 on June 18, 2015
             Today in society, one of the number one obsessions is to be fit, skinny and ready for bikini season. It is a universal obsession that is similar to all age groups. “We're in the midst of an epidemic, one that's destroying both the quality and the longevity of our lives. It affects not just us but our children, and likely their children, too. And while this epidemic has been around a while, it's growing at an alarming rate, not just here but around the world.

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by Duoo on June 17, 2015
Sexual Objects vs. Intelligent Humans!?  

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by pillow3570 on June 17, 2015
Social media has evolved to become one of the most popular communication platforms as a result of technological breakthrough in the 21st century. The world seems to be governed by social media and according to Glen Gilmore the author of the book Social Media Law for Business, many find it difficult to endure such rapid changes (Thompson 8). Actions by society have become harder to control. Issues surrounding privacy has increased with the use of social media in the recruitment process.

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by Shankar Dhar on June 10, 2015
There are “whistleblowers” in almost any type of field of work; there will always be a person who--in layman’s terms, would fill up the role of the tattletale. However, the issue of whistleblowers is most pronounced in the field of business, in which an array of companies and corporations make illicit and questionable deals everyday.

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by I wonder what t... on June 10, 2015
What is prison meant to do? The obvious answer is that prison is meant to punish criminals, and to act as a deterrent to potential criminals. “Do the crime, do the time” means that if someone commits a crime, they have incurred a debt to society which can only be repaid by spending time in a prison. But what is the actual point? When a criminal is released from prison, they’re barred from a huge range of careers. No one wants to hire an ex-convict.

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by 人◕ ‿‿ ◕人 on June 9, 2015
Chances are, you have probably heard about this moral dilemma before. It involves a terminally ill patient on their deathbed staying alive by a thread. The patient would rather end their life prematurely, then let their illness consume them and so they ask you, the doctor to lethally inject them. What do you do?

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by Dank Woes on June 9, 2015
Abortion in a World of Continuation

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by M.Byford on June 9, 2015
In January of 2015, two Islam gunmen found their way into the offices of a political/satire cartoon magazine named Charlie Hebado and open fired. The result of which was the death of twelve staff and the injuries of eleven more. The gunmen claimed they were motivated to commit this act by the deeply offensive and sacrilegious content being published by the magazine, primarily concerning the many offensive pictures’ depicting their prophet Mohammed, which according to the Koran is even illegal to draw let alone publically mock.

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by MKRam on June 9, 2015
Propaganda, according to Brittanica’s online search engine, has been defined as a “dissemination of information – facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, lies – [meant] to influence public opinion” (Smith). Through propaganda, accepted (as well as unaccepted) virtues and values are conveyed through the use of symbols through artistic and non-artistic means (such as music, fashion, film, currency, etc.) to have them follow a particular set of actions, attitudes, or beliefs that a propagandist deems acceptable or “right” (Smith).

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by Lilith Franco on June 9, 2015
          In every field of work, professionals are faced with moral dilemmas on a daily basis. Doctors must make fast decisions that can alter a person’s life forever, teachers must decide how to deal with students who have cheated on an evaluation whose result may or may not end the student’s academic career and finally, criminal lawyers are faced with the moral dilemma of defending a client who may or may not be guilty.

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4 years 2 months ago

Very interesting post. I enjoy video games quite abit as well and peronally I do not see any correlation with killing a computer animated character and killing an actual human being. As you said the sample size of 10 cases versus 1.2 billion gamers is pretty ridiculous and Fox should not consider that a correlation.There are way more factors to consider which have a stronger correlation with murderous behaviours other than video games some of which include upbringing, social class, mental state etc. Video games do not teach you how to actually kill a person. You are just pressing buttons with your fingers, not literally taking a gun and shooting it. I could start ranting about gun laws all day which is an issue extremely more sever than video games. Had the killer in question not been able to get their hands on these weapons in the first place and the murders probably would have never occurred, but that is a different story in it's own right.

The only part that struck me as odd was when you mention that all gamers don't necessarily play violent video games because the main correlation in question had to do with murderers and violent video games so I think that if they video game is not violent it shouldn't really be relevant to this scenario. Besides that job well done!

4 years 2 months ago

This is a great topic that definitely needs recognition from everyone that engages with social media. The issue with social media networks like Instagram is very similar to the emergence of Hollywood and film, in which unattainable body appearances seems to be one of the most significant ramifications. Whereas film only portrays high beauty ideals, Instagram and powerful celebrities (like the Kardashians) advocate not only impossible beauty standards, but as well as ridiculous materialistic possessions. In turn, this does contribute to narcissism and insecurity among youth and others on Instagram. Also, I like how you recognized the reality of Instagram posing as a mask for people that are too insecure about how their lives really are. In other words, Instagram allows people to hide behind a facade of alcohol, designer bags and material gains.

This was truly a great post, but as for further improvements, I would definitely recommend that you focus on other celebrities and other portrayals (instead of beauty ideals). For instance, if you touched on Dan Bilzerian and his depiction of masculinity on Instagram. In addition, I found it to be quite unclear as to what ethical framework you chose… Other than that, most definitely a great paper, very relevant in today’s internet-driven society.

4 years 2 months ago

This was a pretty interesting analysis of the concrete ethical dilemma of euthanasia and applied a good assessment of the ethical theories. However, many things could have been improved. To start, the title could have been catchier. It also doesn’t link at all to the subject matter (there is absolutely no discussion of any “scientific method” in your post and you are just discussing the ethical problems). The question “is it morally correct to kill a human being?” is also extremely vague and doesn’t directly address the issue. You could have instead asked, “Is mercy killing justified as a means to impede suffering?” or something of that nature to specify what you will be talking about/arguing. In addition, I also think that virtue ethics could have been applied, or at least mentioned, in the post, especially considering those neutral instances in which both the deontological and teleological perspectives can’t apply (as you mention in your concluding sentence). In sum, it just felt rushed and I felt like more could have been discussed. There were also numerous grammatical and formatting errors (i.e. It’s not the euthanasia, it’s simply euthanasia), and the vocabulary and wording is quite redundant.

4 years 2 months ago

Nice title, however its missing some capitalization. It should read "A Prince Who Steals Your Instagram Photos".
I like the topic you have chosen, art can be very complicating therefore I commend you for tackling it. Clean introductory paragraph however, there seem to be a couple of run-on sentences that either should be compressed or split in half. For example "This issue has recently been brought to light within social media when a man by the name of Richard Prince appropriated other peoples Instagram photos, without their knowledge or consent, blew up the images onto to portraits and then with minimal editing (nothing was done except the addition of a sentence to look like he had ‘commented’ on the photograph), he sold these images for upwards of 90’000 dollars. " In addition, I believe that you have overused the word appropriate in order say steal. In your title, you have the word steal, yet you choose not to utilize it. Variety within a text is good, you should be a little more careful of overusing specific words. In the second paragraph except for some grammatical errors such as capitalization and the colloquialization. Also, its sort of unclear which overall point you are trying to make within this paragraph. Third paragraph is a run-on sentence again. You need to split it into three phrases. You are missing a $ as well. In the following paragraph of teleology, for harm I believe you could've talked about the possible emotion harm done to those whose photos were stolen. i.e. Their intellectual property was breached. The first sentence of the next paragraph is a bit awkward. Overall, good arguments and a sweet topic Watch out for grammatical errors and run-on sentences.

4 years 2 months ago

Yes, yes, YES! The topic of this article is so unbelievably relevant and cannot be discussed enough. I love that you backed up the information with good evidence, and especially that you included such OUTRAGEOUS song lyrics... I love Snoop, but seeing his lyrics actually written down makes me question if I'm a terrible person for doing so.
However (yes, there's unfortunately a shitty bit... sorry!), the only thing I want to address is the fact that you say that to "limit the objectification of women in music is also immoral in of itself" because "Disallowing the degradation of women in one’s music would infringe upon their freedom of expression and creativity"… The thing is, putting in place boundaries and limiting the degradation of women isn’t the problem—it’s the fact of demanding for there to be any boundaries at all that poses a problem in regard to freedom of expression and artistic license. Nevertheless, there is seemingly more and more opposition to the misogynistic and demeaning portrayal of women in rap music (yay!). Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea are but a few fierce females that are taking the rap game by storm, and are beginning to counter the problem of women being portrayed as sexual objects, and nothing but—so do not despair. Overall, great post!

4 years 2 months ago

you iz my role model fam

4 years 2 months ago

This is a very interesting topic choice! Indeed today, there is a big debate on the treatment of inmates. I agree with your point of view that prisoners should not be severely punish but rather rehabilitated in order to give a chance to change and become better human beings once they return to the community. Many of the prisoners come from low income families and did not receive much care or attention from others. There is a strong link between low education and crime activity; more-educated people are less likely become criminals. According to Canada’s correctional service, 64% have not completed their high school diploma (Stevens). Moreover, I would argue, in a deontological perspective that society has a duty to educate people. Prisoners should be given the opportunity to be re-educated in becoming better citizen. Also through education, society is meant to set an example to the people. By inflicting harm, the prisoners become more and more violent. The contrast you made between the United States and Norway, demonstrates the reason for Scandinavia countries to be the world’s role models. Like Norway, Sweden policies on prisoner rehabilitation allows inmates to be “regarded as people with needs, to be assisted and helped” (James). As a result Sweden had “reoffending rates at about 40% – less than half of those in the UK and most other European countries” (James).

Stevens, Dennis J. “FORUM on Corrections Research”. Correctional Service Canada. N.d. Web. 19 June 2015.

James, Erwin. ‘Prison is not for punishment in Sweden. We get people into better shape’. The Guardian. 26 November 2014. Web. 19 June 2015

4 years 2 months ago

very catchy title!
the subject was interesting, very relevant in todays society and important for people to be more educated about.
as the need to become extremely fit can be just as damaging as previous needs to be thin.
the Harper & Tiggmann study you wrote about was very interesting, you also bring to light a lot of the hypocritical nature seen within the new trend of 'fitspo' as well as the negative after effects it can have on people, it was very interesting as you can now make more of a link as these images leaning more towards the causation of these problems.
however, one thing which could be worked on is the generalizations, i found many times i would read a sentence with a generalization, for example when you wrote, "the media still wants women and girls to aspire to something unrealistic and possible harmful." without sources to back it up. also bias came through in the absolute way your sentences were structured, (such as saying the people with thigh gaps have unrealistic body standards), and that all the fitspo posts are simply masquerading as thinspo. (which in many cases is true but not all) when many people have natural thigh gaps and are still at a healthy weight because of the way their bones are structured. what you said in most cases is correct it would just be good to mention quickly that these are not universal rules, and that a lot of these ads promote negative body images but some are also just trying to promote health.

4 years 2 months ago

Very well done & written! The implications of rap music surely do seem detrimental to the female population within society. Portraying women as nothing but sex objects and tools and minimizing them to derogatory terms; can be harmful and influential in how men in society treat women and view rape culture which in itself is problematic. However, I do believe that in some of these rap songs and videos (particularly by female rappers) an aspect of sex positive feminism has been embraced. In which control of female sexuality some songs, videos and lyrics is attributed to positive connotations. I also find that some rappers are begging to pushback on fight the sexism in rap music by producing and putting their own spin on songs. The most notable example is by rapper/artist Awkwafina who produced the song "My Vag" a parody and jab at Mickey Avalon's song "My Dick." Thankfully though change is slowly but surely happening on this front, I still think there's along way to go before sexism in rap music becomes a minimal problem...

4 years 2 months ago

Ya chill. I love Reeces. I dig it bruh.

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