Media Ethics (Winter 2017, section 3)

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.

 

Marianopolis College
by anoifdk on April 28, 2017
Social media has reshaped the way information is transmitted throughout the world. Websites such as Twitter or Facebook promote the global spreading of information instantaneously, a phenomenon that could not occur prior to the Internet. Famous people, by definition, possess an especially vast audience and this is reflected in amount of engagement their online accounts receive. Because of this, the question of whether or not influential figures have the moral obligation to use social media with care in order to not spread misinformation must be considered.

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by The guy who cut... on April 27, 2017
“The US military does not condone the killing of unarmed combatants. But this isn't real, so why should you care?”(Yager, 2012) This uncomfortable line presents itself during loading screens of the game Spec Ops: The Line as it progresses towards its inevitable conclusion. This discomforting message seeks to remind the player of one very important thing: You are not a passive observer, you are in control and you are responsible.

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by PancakeCustomer... on April 27, 2017
Videogames have seen a spike in popularity over the past decade, and with half of the North American population actively playing games, it has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Although earlier games have had problems with sexualization of female characters, stereotypically muscular and stoic male characters, and little to no LGBT characters, games such as The Last of Us, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted and many more have broken down most of these barriers. However, statistically, most of the games in the past decade have contained some form of violence.

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by sakuowo on April 27, 2017
“50% of all film, TV and digital services don’t have a named or speaking Asian character” (Waurenchen, “Race” 6). Although individuals of Asian descent constitute 5.6% of the population of the United States (Wikipedia contributors), they are exceedingly underrepresented in Hollywood’s predominantly white film industry, often restricted to portray a select few roles constructed upon racial stereotypes.

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by waackween_ on April 27, 2017
The Power of Social Media Influence: Morality in Youtube Sponsorships  

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by plantain1998 on April 26, 2017
When Trump tweeted that he won the popular vote because “millions voted illegally”, the news media had no trouble parroting his claim. This unfounded allegation made the rounds on media outlets of various political spectrums, but most were not quick to dispute it live (Calderone 2016). In this context, the news media has to reconsider its part in the circulation of these stories, particularly in the context of their role as both watchdogs against abuses of power and gatekeepers to the market of ideas.

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by JohnD333 on April 26, 2017
    As the global economic getting better and the living standard gradually improving, people are now focusing on enhancing the living quality. They care about their way of talking, their manners, and most importantly their appearance. Nowadays’ people pay more attention to how the clothes are designed, which material are used, with what colors the cloth can be matched. The clothes are the important factor to define a person’s social status during the first meeting, it is very easy to tell whether if a person is wealthy or not by simply looking at their clothes.

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by 1530484 on April 26, 2017
The world is becoming an increasingly uncertain place. Children are being slaughtered, elderly people are being butchered, women are being enslaved and men are being killed. For many people around the globe, the guarantee of safety and life for the coming seconds of their lives is uncertain. The middle east is in chaos and the West is dealing with an existential crisis: The choice between nationalism and multiculturalism.

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by bradythegoat on April 26, 2017
Fashion in High School was all about “American Apparel.”  The vast majority of students would be covered from head to toe with the company’s clothing on a daily basis. The trend has died down, but there are still several supporters of the company. However, it was such an impactful trend that people started to ignore their advertisements. This should not be a surprise, due to the fact that when people are sincerely attached to a product line, they tend to ignore any possible negativity that halo’s over the company.

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by TheIdealCynic on April 25, 2017
        The democratic system can only thrive so long as it has the correct mechanisms to perpetuate and disseminate political thought. Traditionally, the hidden powers that permit democracy have manifested through the relationship between politicians and journalists. However, the democratic  promise is currently under attack as  politicians become stagnated by the disastrous effects that sensationalized click bait headlines can have on their public perception. In President Barack Obama’s farewell speech,  he addressed issues pertaining to the growing income inequality in America.

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by TheIdealCynic on April 25, 2017
        The democratic system can only thrive so long as it has the correct mechanisms to perpetuate and disseminate political thought. Traditionally, the hidden powers that permit democracy have manifested through the relationship between politicians and journalists. However, the democratic  promise is currently under attack as  politicians become stagnated by the disastrous effects that sensationalized click bait headlines can have on their public perception. In President Barack Obama’s farewell speech,  he addressed issues pertaining to the growing income inequality in America.

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by pancake on April 25, 2017
     Parisian fashion house Yves Saint Laurent boasts an iconic name in both the fashion and beauty industries, known for its luxury products and exclusivity. However, to stay a frontrunner and primary influencer in the constantly changing fashion industry, Saint Laurent must execute its advertising with an unparalleled artistry that provokes thought and offers consumers an incentive to purchase their products. As a result their advertisements are often provocative, a quality that Saint Laurent took too far in their Spring 2017 campaign by designer Anthony Vacarello.

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by Gordon Ramsay on April 25, 2017
Popular game franchises such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have been the source of controversies for over ten years now. Parents have long wondered what they can do to stop their kids from playing these games that feature an ever increasing quantity of violence which has been getting more realistic every year. Their fear is that prolonged exposure to guns, shooting, killing, stealing and other acts of violence in a video game can lead to similar acts of violence outside the virtual world.

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by Youyou417 on April 25, 2017
Would you ever imagine a place in the world where human rights are non –existent or extremely limited?  Despite ever-increased globalization North Korea stubbornly rema­­­­ins one of the most isolated country from the rest of the world in the 21th century. Even if tourists or visitors are allowed to visit the country, they are not expected to reveal this hermit kingdom’s true face, as well as the real life of its 24 million people. Why? Simply because all the tours are “organized” in a way that one can only be shown off the brightest side of this self-hyped “perfect country”.

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by John Dough on April 25, 2017
In recent years, the power of the media to influence the public’s decision has been greater than ever. With almost every household in America having a TV or phone their opinions and headlines have the possibility to change the opinion of millions of Americans. The 2016 US election was one of the most brutal campaigns in recent years as Hillary Clinton, representing the democratic party, and Donald Trump, representing the republican party, constantly argued over points from their past, and personal lives.

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by emsh98 on April 25, 2017
             Playing video games is a popular activity where people resort to for fun. Video games are commonly played amongst many adolescents, are quite addictive and can be played for hours. On the other hand, video games that have violent content may come with some negative consequences if teenagers are exposed to them too much or, are addicted to playing violent video games. For instance, Call of Duty Black Ops is a violent video game played by many teenagers that may be a contributor to aggressive behaviour.

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by mangoislyf on April 25, 2017
       How many movies have you seen with a main character that is neither an attractive white woman or a white male? Not many right? That’s what I thought. These movies, old or new will always stun you with a hot blond muscular man driving his Mercedes to pick up his gorgeous brunette, both coming back from saving the world form evil, which let’s be real most often consist of a an ethnic minority antagonist.

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by Ziwei Qu on April 25, 2017
With the fast developments in media technology, viewers should be able to receive a “similar picture of the political world, featuring conflicting perspectives on political issues” (Davis 2016). However, that is currently not the case for consumers in the United States. The market is dominated by a hand full of corporations, as consequence when it comes to news media the messages filtered through are very limited: Conservative, Liberal, and sometimes neutral. 

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by JapaneseYen on April 25, 2017
           The Dakota Access pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux people and other Aboriginal tribes is an attempt to protect sacred land and avoid water contamination of the Mississippi river. Through the media coverage of the affair, the moral dilemma arises of the representation of Aboriginals. While the time taken by leading news reporters to publish stories on the events is unjust, the overall representation brings to attention the detrimental stereotypical ways Aboriginals are conveyed in the news media.

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by Juicycouture on April 25, 2017
            Being seen as beautiful has become an unattainable goal in our society. One of the main causes of why beauty has reached such unattainable standards is photoshopping. Many individuals have shown their hatred towards photoshopping through social media, such as the famous singer Lorde who tweeted, “I find this curious - two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real.

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1 month 3 weeks ago

I like the way you breakdown deontology as a useful ethical framework, pointing to the conflict between freedom and truthfulness. I also find your view on the relevancy of utilitarianism in a modern social media era where actions can affect greater numbers than ever before quite interesting, I have never thought about that. Ironically, social media can collapse on itself by facilitating mass miscommunication, such as in your example about Trump’s tweet on declining job rates, which were really produced by the Obama administration.

While both deontological and teleological frameworks have not been effective within the context of a modern presidency, I would like to discuss the merits of the virtue ethical framework. Unlike deontology and utilitarianism, virtue ethics places great emphasis on the self as a moral agent. The school of thought suggests that individuals learn moral behaviour through observation of other people’s behaviour, naturally developing a personal moral compass. Considering the mass influence attributed to the POTUS (made even greater through the emergence of social media), Trump has a moral obligation to learn from his predecessors and develop his character accordingly. While each president is unique and possesses their own individual qualities, a president must sacrifice a part of that and conform to precedent to serve the country as best as possible. Perhaps this is where Donald Trump has gone wrong: he embraces individuality to the extreme. Trump has essentially reinvented the wheel when it comes to the presidency, whether it be through his petty tweet wars, hostile relationship with the mainstream media, and racist political rhetoric. While his extreme sense of individualism sparked the hearts and souls of American voters, it is dangerous when left to run free without any ethical framework to guide it. Virtue ethics may be the optimal ethical theory for Trump because it is conducive to a self-oriented, individualistic mindset. If Donald Trump finds success in cultivating a political persona, then so be it – at least let it be done through an self-centric ethical framework, such as virtue ethics.

4 months 2 days ago

I was attracted by the title because, as a college student, I would like to see what's others opinion on the study in college. When I finish reading this article, I felt inspired and I do think that what you proposed helps parents to understand nowadays' students' pressure. Especially, the tips that had been mentioned in the article are really helpful for students to improve their working status. Yet, I still believe that study is just like the training for our brain, and the only way to enlarge our knowledge and to ameliorate our study progress is to keep practicing and to keep working as long as you can. In fact, study and weight training have the same concept which is to get more, you have to work more. In order to gain muscles, people in the gym tend to push their limit and do as much as they can. By the same token, students need to practice more, to read more, for the purpose of understanding more.

The ethical issue I found is that should school or teachers give students more time or less work so that student can really absorb what they learned? Just like you mentioned in the article, "...forgetting almost everything right after the test.", if students do not possess enough time to finish their work or to study for that one particular class, the result would usually be students trying to finish their work or their study the night before the test or the assignment is due. While students complain about how little time they have, teachers would feel wronged, because they think they give a reasonable time.

4 months 2 days ago

You have done a fantastic job at identifying one of the world's largest environmental issues. I did not know that in the past thirty years, the government dramatically decreased air pollution from cars by regulating them, and I found it very comforting to learn that the issue is not being pushed aside.

There are different ways one might construct a moral system. The most efficient way to go about constructing a moral system concerning petroleum versus electrical and hybrid cars would be to analyze the dilemma through deontology and teleology.

Teleology involves the "summon bonum," which signifies the greatest for humanity, or the greatest good for the greatest number of people. An alteration in having the majority of people driving electrical cars rather than petroleum cars would be a huge step forward for humanity towards a cleaner and safer environment. Therefore, according to teleology, the outcome of such a change would propose the right doing due to the fact that Earth would be a cleaner place for all of us.

Due to the fact that deontology is defined through universal maxims, or rules, such an approach would not be efficient. Although air pollution from cars was significantly decreased by the government, people are not obliged to buy electronic cars. Therefore, a consumer buying a petroleum car may be acting morally by following the rules, but he or she is ultimately contributing to the problem.

By proposing a solution to the problem that involves teachers teaching students about air pollution would categorize itself under teleology, as it would make them aware of the issue, which would motivate them to take steps towards fixing the issue by maybe buying an electronic car when the time comes. Ultimately contributing to the greatest good for the greatest number. Teleology is the most efficient moral system to use when thinking about petroleum and electronic cars.

4 months 2 days ago

The co-existence of French and English in Quebec has been an interesting phenomenon and a hotly debated subject throughout the province.
I agree that the conservation of the French language is important but the use of the English language should also not be neglected. The fact that both languages can be used and treated fairly in Quebec well has set a good example for other provinces to follow. This topic can be represented by utilitarianism, a philosophical approach that determines something ethical by measuring the greatest amount of happiness. According to utilitarian point of view, the co-existence of English and French is considered ethical since it satisfies the most of people by accepting both languages as official in the province of Quebec. The English community in Quebec accounts for not an insignificant part of the population and French community plays an even demographically greater role. Given the fact that English is an international language and French is widely used by francophone community, both languages has been given the equal status in the province of Quebec. Therefore, utilitarianism solves the problem by satisfying the majority of the people and making them happy.

4 months 2 days ago

I find your post very insightful and structured very efficiently. Though I do think that your introduction to the subject was somewhat quick and to the point, your summary of the topic is very properly articulated. Also, by comparing the situation to that of Muhammad Ali’s and quoting professionals such as the sociologist Michael Eric Dyson, you highlight the importance of the topic even more. Finally, by giving your stance on the issue, it makes your article all the more thorough, however this inherently introduces the possibilities of other opinions on the issue through different ethical frameworks.

In this case, there are conflicting ethical points of view that have to be taken into account. For instance, Kaepernick’s refusal to stand up during the anthem did not sit well with many other NFL players who basically argue that standing up for the anthem honors the men and women who serve and have served the U.S. military. This ties into to the framework of ethical relativism, which in sum, refutes the judgement of actions or behaviors of people from other cultures, (well in this case race) because no moral principles are valid for all people, places and times. Essentially, morals are pitted against each other- discrimination and disrespect for the men and women who serve the U.S. citizens. On the other hand, a utilitarian point of view would see Kaepernick’s actions as inherently good. The teleological ideal (utilitarianism) functions based on giving the greatest happiness for the greatest number. In other words, by kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL player is doing the most good but making a public statement that there definitely a problem when it comes to inequality and police brutality against minorities. Also, as per your concluding statement, Kaepernicks actions sparked debate and brought attention to your topic, and consequently would aim to eliminate or at least lessen the issues of race.

In closing, I feel as though applying the utilitarian framework would be the most suited point of view would be best for this situation. Because of your anecdote, the overall idea that ending or lessening the brutality towards people of colour justifies that doing so would bring the greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people.

4 months 2 days ago

Your article discusses a very important topic, especially given the prevalence of fake news and gossip on social media. I agree with you that there are significant dangers faced by the subjects of false rumours, and the morality of the journalists and publishers of such articles are certainly questionable. I am particularly interested in your topic, as it beings to mind the ethical frameworks that I’m currently studying in my Media Ethics class.
There are several different ethical perspectives that one can use to approach this situation, but I think virtue ethics is most relevant because of its emphasis on motive. Firstly, it is important to recognize where the responsibility lies with respect to the publication of fake news, and in this case, it is evident that the journalists and publishers are at fault for not verifying their sources. Virtue ethics is an ethical framework that emphasizes the morality of the agent, that is, of the person performing an action. If the agent possesses virtuous qualities and behaves in a virtuous manner, then their actions are accepted as moral. In the case of spreading gossip and false information, not only does it have negative consequences, but agents are also displaying lack of virtues. Specifically, agents are lacking honesty, integrity, wisdom, kindness, social intelligence, empathy, and humility, among other virtues. They are prioritizing monetary gain and publicity instead of exercising these values, and therefore would be acting immorally according to a virtue ethicist.
The emphasis that our society places on a person’s virtues helps explain some of the outrage at the pervasiveness of fake news and celebrity gossip over social media. This phenomenon could certainly be reduced if journalists focused of attaining virtuousness.

Reply to: Trump's America
4 months 2 days ago

It was hearing warming to read about the story you shared about the New Yorkers in that subway car getting together, and resisting an act of discrimination and hatred. The concept of “Trump’s America” is very frightening, and the fact that it is now an reality rather than a farfetched possibility is absolutely mind boggling. Virtue ethics would approach this issue by pointing out that virtuous people with good virtuous, such as tolerance, compassion, humility, fraternity, kindness would do the right thing and stand up against the violence and hatred in current day America. Utilitarianism argues that ultimate goal is to provide the greatest amount of happiness to the largest amount of people. However, in this case how can the “greatest amount of happiness” be determined? Would that happiness be equality and peace the New Yorkers in the subway car fought for? Or would that be the bigoted rhetorics of those who drew the Swastika on the windows? It is hard to agree on a common summon bonum, the end goal. In this case, I believe the best approach would be Rationalism. Sure, virtue ethics has good intentions, but I don't think it is strong enough. Rationalism believes that all human have the duty of following the laws. It is a deontological framework, therefore it is only concerned about duty and the importance of obeying rules. One has to obey the rules, there is no exception. It is the duty to fight again discrimination and it is against the law to commit hate crimes. For these reasons, Rationalism is the correct path when it come to fighting Trump’s America.

4 months 2 days ago

I really agree with the issue of propaganda from a deontological point of view. Enforcing a moral or a view on someone is simply taking away that person’s right to choose. You made a good case for it and explained it excellently. I really liked how you tied in modern day advertising. I would never have associated it with propaganda. I guess that is wishful thinking that we don’t have issues such as propaganda in the society we live in today. I didn't get a clear understanding about "the employment of psychologists as consultants for manipulating human behaviour." Maybe it could have been explained a little bit better or in more detail. I also really like how you brought in the aspect of fear of alienation. Although I liked that you compared deontology with teleology and virtue ethics, you could have gone more into details about virtue ethics. Overall a very interesting article.

4 months 2 days ago

I really like your point about how mass education can lead to a more prosperous society. Access to education should certainly be regarded as a fundamental right that the government is obligated to provide. What if the equation was flipped, with education understood as a citizens obligation to the state? In other words, imagine a world where it is the individual's duty to become educated and capable of critical thought to solve social problems, or vote in the best politicians? In this view, receiving an education is not only a human right, but an moral, honourable quality – or a virtue. Furthermore, by aligning access to education with the ethical school of thought known as ‘Virtue Ethics’, moral weight is added to the fight for widespread access to education.

Noam Chomsky, a prominent anti-war activist of the 20th century, suggested that being educated is a virtue when he famously published an essay that addressed “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” in creating a just and peaceful society. Chomsky’s argument is underpinned by the virtue ethics approach, where an individual's moral character should be at the forefront of their intellectual pursuits. According to virtue ethical theory, the contributions made to society as a result of ones education should motivate that individual to become educated. Essentially, attaining knowledge constitutes virtuous behaviour and contributes to an individual's moral character. Gandhi also advocated that to be educated is to be virtuous when he said that a danger to human virtue is “Knowledge without character”.

I love the quote that “Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being” (Amsterdam Declaration 2002). Similarly, every human being should aim at the fullest possible achievement of humanism for the sake of a enriching society at large.

4 months 2 days ago

I really like your point about how mass education can lead to a more prosperous society. Access to education should certainly be regarded as a fundamental right that the government is obligated to provide. What if the equation was flipped, with education understood as a citizens obligation to the state? In other words, imagine a world where it is the individual's duty to become educated and capable of critical thought to solve social problems, or vote in the best politicians? In this view, receiving an education is not only a human right, but an moral, honourable quality – or a virtue. Furthermore, by aligning access to education with the ethical school of thought known as ‘Virtue Ethics’, moral weight is added to the fight for widespread access to education.

Noam Chomsky, a prominent anti-war activist of the 20th century, suggested that being educated is a virtue when he famously published an essay that addressed “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” in creating a just and peaceful society. Chomsky’s argument is underpinned by the virtue ethics approach, where an individual's moral character should be at the forefront of their intellectual pursuits. According to virtue ethical theory, the contributions made to society as a result of ones education should motivate that individual to become educated. Essentially, attaining knowledge constitutes virtuous behaviour and contributes to an individual's moral character. Gandhi also advocated that to be educated is to be virtuous when he said that a danger to human virtue is “Knowledge without character”.

I love the quote that “Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being” (Amsterdam Declaration 2002). Similarly, every human being should aim at the fullest possible achievement of humanism for the sake of a enriching society at large.

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