Media Ethics (Winter 2017, section 18)

About this class

Studies suggest that the average Canadian spends 19 hours online and 28 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.

Media Ethics does not aim to provide simple answers to difficult ethical questions. Instead, it is designed to introduce you to ethical questions surrounding the media and to provide you with the skills necessary to begin to find your own answers. Although the teacher will not attempt to hide her perpective, no particular position will be deemed “correct” in this class, and students are encouraged to put forward any opinion that is backed by evidence and critical thought.

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by rocki17000 on April 24, 2017
Drugs, Inc. is a popular television documentary series from the National Geographic Channel. The show explores the different facets of drug use, from its production to its usage. The show started airing in 2010 and has a total of 7 seasons with 71 episodes total with more on the way as the show is still in production. The show originally only focused on a particular drug for each episode in seasons 1 and 2 but started to focus on specific regions for each episode from season 3 in an effort to widen the topics that could be discussed per episode.

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by Carte Blanche on April 23, 2017
In our increasingly digital age, photography has become popular and the role of photojournalists has grown in the media, however, “the special problems of violence and truth telling in wartime and issues of how to handle graphic images across media platforms receive virtually no attention” (Keith 2009). The English Oxford Dictionary defines photojournalism to be “the practice of communicating news by photographs...” (English Oxford Dictionary).

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by SimoneDB on April 23, 2017
In modern Western society, although sexual assault is one of the most common forms of violence used against women, it remains as one of the most under-reported crimes due to the various actors in our society that perpetuate rape mythology - most notably, the news media. News coverage of sexual assault is presented through a lens that is all too often apologetic on the part of the accused, who tend to be humanized.  In stark contrast, the victims of the crime are commonly characterized as drunken, irresponsible young women who got into trouble or got what they deserved.

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by CrazyBrazy on April 23, 2017
            Whether it’s by a premium streaming service, television, online, or in theatres, people are consuming hours upon hours of television and film. These videos, episodes, series, and movies, are not always suited for all audiences. The question remains whether some should not be suited for any audience at all. Very few people would argue against the idea that domestic violence is wrong. The ethical dilemma lies in deciding whether these strong, hyper-masculine characters in the media are every man and woman’s dream, or are they actually romanticized abusers.

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by aurea.mediocritas on April 22, 2017
The Washington Post reports that on March 12th 2017, a convenience store owned by Indian brothers was set on fire in what the County Sheriff’s office has declared a hate crime. The perpetrator, a man from Florida assumed the owners were Muslim and wanted to “run the Arabs out of [the] country” due to his presumption that they had affiliations with ISIS (Doward, 2015).

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by coffeebean on April 22, 2017
Advertising in political campaigns holds an essential role in democratic elections founded on these principles of public communication. In today’s digital era where broadcasting outlets permeate society, political ads have grown into an ever-more powerful tool with an unprecedented capacity to shape, or tamper with, public opinion. To that effect, it seems as though politicians are willing to go to increasingly greater lengths to get ahead in this race of reputation and image.

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by mnsr on April 21, 2017
During the two past decades, Nike was able to secure its position in theskateboarding industry. It used extensive and effective advertising, sponsored some of the most recognized professionals and contests, collaborated with major brands, and went as far as knocking some of the most established ones out of business. Nike’s business strategy was clearly successful, but the reactions that it caused within the skateboarding community worldwide are also noticeable. More and more skaters are trying to support skater-owned brands, by solidarity.

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by Plume on April 21, 2017
In the past few years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East and the Western world through its war crimes, destruction of cultural heritage, and displays of violence against civilians and soldiers. Although the futurist (Botz-Bornstein 1) self-proclaimed caliphate exerts brute force just as any other terrorist group, it differs from such groups due to its strategic omnipresence in mainstream social and news media outlets (Farwell 49).

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by bokchoyfork on April 21, 2017
In September of 2015, a photograph was taken of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shore, having drowned when attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The news media took this saying quite literally and circulated the picture across all possible outlets, and the image of the dead child sparked outrage at the migrant crisis that had intensified at the beginning of the year. The image was likened to that of the Napalm Girl, a Pulitzer-prize-winning photograph showing a young girl burned by napalm by American troops in Vietnam.

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by Ailsssss on April 21, 2017
              In recent years, there has been a lot of controversies surrounding the underrepresentation of certain races in mainstream media. Following the #OscarsSoWhite phenomenon, Hollywood is now constantly under fire for not casting visible minorities in leading roles, especially for their adaptations of foreign media. Ghost in the Shell did not help its case when director Rupert Sanders decided to cast Scarlett Johansson as his movie's leading role, which was originally portrayed in the manga as a Japanese girl (or cyborg), Motoko Kusanagi.

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by King23 on April 21, 2017
Media, is a global tool that has for purpose to share specific content to a targeted group. Media has therefore the power to easily shape and create public opinions among people in society.  However, not all the means used to obtain the desired goal are considered as ethical. In fact, negative outcomes have followed these actions. For example, the idea that “girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders.” (Miss Representation).

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by gritgrit21 on April 21, 2017
Selection Bias in The Main Stream Media p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre}

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by CashMeOusside on April 21, 2017
Advertisement is a form of communication that allows a company to reach a target market in order to increase their revenue. Companies have included very artistic approaches in order to catch the attention of viewers to gain popularity and some have also included endorsements from celebrities in order to be more appealing to their target audience. However, advertisements cannot be as effective as companies want them to be if the message or the way in which the ad is presented become immoral.

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by Large Even-Pace... on April 21, 2017
In October of 2009, Colorado father Richard Heene released a prototype for air travel accidentally after forgetting to tether it to a secure frame. One of Heene’s three sons told him that his youngest son, Falcon Heene, had crawled into the base before it had lifted off, and panic ensued. After travelling roughly 60 miles, the balloon landed two hours after it was released, and to the surprise of the parents, news reporters, and greater public watching the event, Falcon was nowhere to be seen.

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by A Hand Wagon on April 21, 2017
Edmund McMillen is an independent video game designer best known for his video games Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac. Originally released in 2011, The Binding of Isaac and its 2014 remake, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, have seen massive commercial and critical success, with critics lauding its addicting gameplay, randomized (roguelike) elements, and its dark themes, specifically pertaining to religion.

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by Dragoneye on April 21, 2017
       In February, the Korean girl group Six Bomb has revealed their teaser image for their music video "Becoming Prettier Before” (“Becoming Prettier Before”). The image shows the four young women wrapped in colorful bandages while their new faces, which have cost 100 million KRW or $88,000 to their management company, are revealed in the music video “Becoming Prettier After” (“Mathew”).

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by person5678 on April 21, 2017
Since technology is constantly evolving, our governments must also improve and evolve simultaneously in order to keep their populations safe. As these technologies are becoming wide spread, the need for regulations become even more necessary in order to maintain order and to control the misuse of it. In 2013, a top-secret program named PRISM was leaked from U.S intelligence (Washington Post, 2013) and ignited the controversy between the rights to privacy versus better protection for the population as a whole.

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by hotcoco on April 21, 2017
The Kardashian-Jenner family has been under the entertainment media spotlight for over a decade. The members of the family always find a way to stay relevant whether it be by starring in their own reality television series, their high fashion modelling careers or their newest apps. While Kim Kardashian was the family member that sparked the initial fame, she received more than enough attention to be shared among all her family members. Through association with Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner was able to easily slide in to the modelling world.

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by Strawberry on April 21, 2017
       With the development and the increasing popularity of video games in todays society, the popularization of video games that mainly contain violence has opened up the debate for the affects of the violence in video games. Similar studies about this have been conducted in the past about the affect of violent media, such as television and movies, but with the rise of popularity of video games, this gives the researches a little twist since this time, the player is in control of the aggressive acts of the main character.

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2 months 3 weeks ago

It’s a great post about marketing. The author used critical thinking to see the advantages and disadvantages about marketing and advertising industry. I can’t agree more with the idea that marketing is a great way of promoting and influencing trends. Just like the post mentions, some companies are encouraging weight loss to promote their products. There are also many companies make advertisements with women with flawless skin, skinny waist, big breasts to give customers a standard idea of beauty in order to sell their products. Customers can be seriously influenced by these ideas presented in ads, and they try to follow the “trend” which can cause them problem like eating disorder and depression, etc. Moreover, there are a large number of ads presenting languages and images that promote “rape culture” which normalize the action of raping. These sexual ads give ideas to individuals that violence toward women is acceptable, and rape is a cool action. Due to these ideas presented by advertisements, when rape happens, people tend to pity the raper but blame on victims (which is what “rape culture” means). As you can see, problems do exist in marketing and advertising industry, and as marketing and advertisements are significant in influencing and promoting trends, to make our society more female friendly, I do think that there should be some changes in marketing and advertising industry.

There is a reference link about “rape culture”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

Work cited:

Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising."Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008):57-89. Rpt in 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views. Montreal:Eastman,2016,3-19.Print.

2 months 3 weeks ago

It’s a great post about marketing. The author used critical thinking to see the advantages and disadvantages about marketing and advertising industry. I can’t agree more with the idea that marketing is a great way of promoting and influencing trends. Just like the post mentions, some companies are encouraging weight loss to promote their products. There are also many companies make advertisements with women with flawless skin, skinny waist, big breasts to give customers a standard idea of beauty in order to sell their products. Customers can be seriously influenced by these ideas presented in ads, and they try to follow the “trend” which can cause them problem like eating disorder and depression, etc. Moreover, there are a large number of ads presenting languages and images that promote “rape culture” which normalize the action of raping. These sexual ads give ideas to individuals that violence toward women is acceptable, and rape is a cool action. Due to these ideas presented by advertisements, when rape happens, people tend to pity the raper but blame on victims (which is what “rape culture” means). As you can see, problems do exist in marketing and advertising industry, and as marketing and advertisements are significant in influencing and promoting trends, to make our society more female friendly, I do think that there should be some changes in marketing and advertising industry.

There is a reference link about “rape culture”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

Work cited:

Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising."Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008):57-89. Rpt in 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views. Montreal:Eastman,2016,3-19.Print.

3 months 6 days ago

The post is very logically organized, and it gives examples to illustrate the dilemma of a responsibility to protect and it also shows the author’s own ideas and thoughts about the issue.
I can’t agree more with the idea that when someone is trying to protect on the behalf of others can rise conflict. During the first wave of feminism when women were trying to get the suffrage, most of males went against with this idea saying women could not bare the toughness of politics, and women should be protected and should be taken care of. Just like the author mentioned in the post, “we have no right to decide what ideas, values, or practices are right or wrong”, males have no rights to view females as inferior creatures and decide for them that they need to be protected. However, back to that time, in a patriarchal society, people considered the idea of women having political rights were wrong and unethical. The idea that males have the responsibility to protect females in the patriarchal society can cause conflicts. For example, there were radical women commit violence trying to get their rights during the first wave of feminism period.

Here is a wikipedia link about First-wave feminism.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-wave_feminism

4 months 1 day ago

This is a very informative and profound article; you shed light on an incredibly pressing issue and an entirely new dimension of illegal immigration that I wasn’t previously aware of!

The people-smuggling business is an undoubtedly complicated dilemma as these ‘businesses’ consciously endanger the people whom they serve and also illegally profit from such abusive actions. As you point out, there is no clear-cut solution to this matter, however, an ethical interpretation of this issue can provide further insights on how to proceed.

From a Deontological perspective, both the actions of people smugglers and illegal immigrants themselves would be considered unethical. Deontology defines ethical behaviour as the observance of universal principles that one is duty-bound to follow. In this case, collecting profit through inflicting harm would be viewed as using humans as means to an end, and illegitimately crossing borders would be considered unprincipled. Thus, Deontology would propose measures to obstruct the subversion of these maxims, such as stricter orders against illegal immigration.

According to Utilitarianism, ethical actions comprise what will yield the most beneficial outcomes to the greatest number of people. To that effect, Utilitarians would assert the immorality of the human-smugglers due to the negative implications of mistreating others (and the reinforcement of these actions through profit). As you mentioned, there is a chance that harsher immigration laws may backfire and ultimately worsen the problem, rendering this option void by Utilitarians. This framework may therefore suggest lighter immigration laws, serving the benefit of those in search of a better life without being brutalized in the process.

I believe a Utilitarianist approach would be the best way to tackle this situation. While stricter immigration procedures may seem intuitively correct, the potential risk of these actions further enabling such unethical practices both outweigh the benefits and undermine the principle.

4 months 1 day ago

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. It is unfair to the rest of the English-speaking society that might want to understand the details of the tragedy. Although it is imperative that the French culture remains relevant in Quebec as well as the language to be preserved, there are instances where the inclusion of both languages is necessary. The province has had countless issues with language, primarily concerning the French language being represented throughout the region. Canada, being a bilingual country, should be enough for Quebec to be bilingual as well. This applies to Anglophones just as much as the French speakers in Quebec, as both languages are highly important in the context of Quebec.

The approach that you took for your article was leaning on the principle of cultural relativism. There's an awful lot of prejudice between both cultures, as the rivalry between the French and the English has existed for a long time in history. As you identified yourself as a French Canadian, you also opened your perspective to that of another's culture by accepting the fact that both languages should coexist. It is for that, we must work together to eliminate the conflict between both cultures. It would work in everyone's advantage, from a utilitarian perspective, as bilingualism would be convenient for each party.

4 months 2 days ago

I believe you brought attention to an under-discussed topic and your personal encounter with the business of prostitution made me more conscious of the ubiquitous and detrimental effects of the sex industry. You seem to have adopted the virtue ethics theory as you value the virtue of empathy towards sex workers by wishing to give them basic human rights and a secure work environment. However, one of the problems with this ethical framework and the legalization of prostitution lies in the possibility of harmful outcomes. Women and young girls from developing countries like China mostly sell their bodies because of entrenched poverty, and legalizing prostitution will create concerns about income taxes and anonymity. As the majority of prostitutes are women, the legalization of prostitution would also encourage the sexual objectification of women which may aggravate the rough treatment of sex workers. Moreover, it does not solve the problem of child prostitution since no state will implement laws allowing for the prostitution of minors, yet people with deviant tendencies will still attempt to satisfy their sexual urges. Virtue ethics is not centered on the outcome, but the agent and his or her motives. Nevertheless, we can still perform an ethical and altruist act which would be beneficial to sex workers; instead of legalizing prostitution, we must keep any human being from being forcibly used as a mean to pleasure by fighting global poverty and by encouraging access to education.

4 months 2 days ago

Your post points out a problem as it illustrates an acceptance of an inappropriate practice based on our cultural standards, and I am with you in the outrage against it. However, our critique is valid from our frame of reference and it is worth noting that we live in a completely different culture here in North America then one might be accustomed to in Russia.
Looking at this situation from a relativistic ethics point of view, it can be argued that since we do not live in Russia, we are in no position to criticize or speak out against laws that affect living in Russia. In other words, ethical relativism is a moral theory in which different cultures have different ideas about morality and one is not considered better than the other. Different cultural groups have established a set of moral values, which drive what they consider socially correct or incorrect. From the point of view of the Russian culture, perhaps disciplining children is seen as an important value and different methods are used to attain this than would be used in the North American culture. It is important to recognize that belonging to a different cultural moral group may mean having a differing idea of what is moral and what is not. Therefore, our opinions about what we call domestic violence in Russia may be considered biased and invalid because we live in a North American moral system.
This is not to say that you are wrong in criticizing this law, which may have implications for your family back home, it is just to realize that before critiquing others, it is important to consider it from multiple perspectives in order to better understand the situation.

Reply to: Girls' Education
4 months 2 days ago

Ann-Frederike, Ann-Julia and Rosalie,
I just want to begin by applauding you on this article and for shedding light in a concise manner on an issue that continues to plague the international community. You, as an outsider, not only made the argument that inequality in education is detrimental, but also put yourself in the shoes of these girls and looked at it from their perspective. While I entirely agree with the points you have raised (the greater issue of gender discrimination, child-marriages, the lack of support when it comes to breaking the cycle), I would like to present to you another way of analyzing this issue, through the lens of ethical relativism.
Ethical relativism is a framework that combines what one believes to be morally sound with the norms of their culture. It argues that there is no universal standard and as a result, claims that each culture holds the right to define what is ethically sound. By this logic, the argument could be made that we are not in a position where we may condemn the systems in place in a society other than our own. It means that we as “foreigners” do not possess the cultural knowledge required to comment on what is going on in other nations, especially under-developed ones. Bringing this back full-circle, it means that we cannot say that the way education takes place in other countries is wrong. While it is not the opinion shared by most, it is a sound argument under the umbrella of ethical relativism.
I hope this allowed you to see this issue from another side, and broadened your understanding of the issue, at least from an ethical point of view.

Reply to: A bigger nightmare
4 months 2 days ago

Thanks for the informative post, BR. I had no idea how severely lacking the Fort Lauderdale airport’s security measures were, nor was I aware that the shooter, Esteban Santiago,, had reached out to the FBI for help in the past. I enjoyed reading your analysis of the gun control issue, and I particularly liked that you highlighted the volatile cocktail that is the combination of liberal gun control laws and a poor support system for mental illness. There are those who would take a virtue ethics approach to the incident and argue that these sorts of events are not indicative of a need for gun-control reform, rather that they are atrocities committed by immoral individuals whose actions do not reflect the virtues of responsible gun owners. However, I for one agree with you that part of the blame for the shooting falls on the law enforcement officials who were unable to provide Santiago with the aid he so desperately needed, and that the shooting would not have taken place had the gun control laws in the US not been so lax. Your criticism of these policies and institutions indicate to me that you would identify most strongly with utilitarianism, an ethical framework which defines moral action as that which brings the greatest good to the greatest amount of people. By failing to properly address Santiago’s needs, and by allowing him to purchase firearms despite his history of PTSD and instability, US legislators and law enforcement effectively chose upholding one man’s constitutional right to bear arms over ensuring the safety of the public, and I agree that this incident should serve as a wake up call to opponents of gun-control.

4 months 2 days ago

I believe that this issue is a very important one in todays society and actions should be taken to prevent this from getting even worse. This post describes the issues attributed to this topic very nicely and very organized backed up by great sources. The issues brought up are that the plastic wrapping is big pollutant of plastic in the world and food waste is the reason behind this. Another issue is that the chemicals used in the wrappers may not be the best for the health of the consumers of the product. A way to approach this issue is to get away from plastic wrapping and convert to an all natural wrappers. This would decrease the amount of plastic waste and even if the new wrappers are thrown out, it would most likely be biodegradable and would decompose over time. I believe that this is the only way to decrease the amount of chemicals in food and to help reduce plastic pollution in the world.

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