Mass media ethics and the classical liberal ideal of the autonomous individual are historically linked and professionally dominant--yet the authors of this work feel this is intrinsically flawed. They show how recent research in philosophy and social science--together with a longer tradition in theological inquiry--insist that community, mutuality, and relationship are fundamental to a full concept of personhood. The authors argue that "persons-in-community" provides a more defensible grounding for journalists' professional moral decision-making in crucial areas such as truthtelling, privacy, organizational (...) culture, and balanced coverage. With numerous examples drawn from life as well as from theory, this book will interest journalists, editors, and professionals in media management as well as students and scholars of media ethics, reporting, and media law. (shrink)
Three experts in media ethics reexamine ethical behaviour in news gathering and reporting. The book combines a wide range of real-life and hypothetical examples of ethical dilemmas in news reporting with a thoughtful critique of the underlying individualistic theories of mainstream media ethics.
Utilitarianism has dominated media ethics for a century. For Mill, individual autonomy and neutrality are the foundations of his On Liberty and System of Logic, as well as his Utilitarianism. These concepts fit naturally with media ethics theory and professional practice in a democratic society. However, the weaknesses in utilitarianism articulated by Ross and others direct us at this stage to a dialogic ethics of duty instead. Habermas's discourse ethics, feminist ethics, and communitarian ethics are examples of duty ethics rooted (...) in the dialogic relation that enable us to start over intellectually. (shrink)
Today's digital revolution is a worldwide phenomenon, with profound and often differential implications for communities around the world and their relationships to one another. This book presents a new, explicitly international theory of media ethics, incorporating non-Western perspectives and drawing deeply on both moral philosophy and the philosophy of technology. Clifford Christians develops an ethics grounded in three principles - truth, human dignity, and non-violence - and shows how these principles can be applied across a wide range of cases and (...) domains. The book is a guide for media professionals, scholars, and educators who are concerned with the global ramifications of new technologies and with creating a more just world. (shrink)
Between Summits I and II, media ethics established its legitimacy, summarized into recommendations for the field's future fluorescence. This history points to the challenges through which media ethics moves to another order of magnitude. A historical map of media ethics scholarship since 1980 divides into 5 domains, and each is introduced: theory, social philosophy, religious ethics, technology, and truth. From this content analysis of the literature, an agenda emerges for research and academic study that can raise media ethics to a (...) higher level. (shrink)
Can groups such as audiences be held collectively accountable in matters of ethics, or does it really distill down to the ethics of the individual? The author discusses individual and collective accountability, and then details a systematic approach to collective responsibility.
The central question of this conference is whether the media can contribute to high quality social dialogue. The prospects for resolving that question positively in the “sound and fury” depend on recovering the idea of truth. At present the news media are lurching along from one crisis to another with an empty centre. We need to articulate a believable concept of truth as communication's master principle. As the norm of healing is to medicine, justice to politics, critical thinking to education, (...) craftsmanship to engineering, and stewardship to business, so truth-telling is the news profession's occupational norm. Truth-telling is the ethical framework that fundamentally reorders the media's professional culture and enables them to enrich social dialogue rather than undermine it.Historically the mainstream press has defined itself in terms of an objectivist worldview. Centred on human rationality and armed with the scientific method, the facts in news have been said to mirror reality. The aim has been true and incontrovertible accounts of a domain separate from human consciousness. In Bertrand Russell's formula, “truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief and fact” . In the received view, truth is defined in elementary epistemological terms as accurate representation. News corresponds to context-free neutral algorithms, and ethics is equated with impartiality.The attacks on this misguided view of human knowledge had already originated in Giambattista Vico's fantasia and Wilhelm Dilthey's verstehen in the counter-Enlightenment of the 18th century. They have continued with hermeneutics, critical theory in the Frankfurt School, American pragmatism, Wittgenstein's linguistic philosophy, Gramsci, and in their own way, Lyotard's denial of master narratives and Derrida's sliding signifiers; until the anti-foundationalism of our own day indicates a crisis in correspondence views of truth. Institutional structures remain Enlightenment-driven, but in principle the tide has turned currently toward restricting objectivism to the territory of mathematics, physics, and the natural sciences. In reporting, objectivity has become increasingly controversial as the working press' professional standard, though it will remain entrenched in our ordinary practices of news production and dissemination until an alternative mission for the press is convincingly formulated.The demise of correspondence views of truth has created a predicament for the notion of truth altogether. However, instead of appealing to coherence versions or abandoning the concept, truth needs to be relocated in the moral sphere. Truth is a problem of axiology rather than epistemology. With the dominant scheme no longer tenable, truth should become the province of ethicists who can reconstruct it as the news media's contribution to social dialogue.When truth is articulated in terms of a moral framework, we can mold its richly textured meaning around the Hebrew emeth , the Greek aletheia . In Serbo-Croatian the true is justified as with plumbline in carpentry. In the powerful wheel imagery of the Buddhist tradition, truth is the immovable axle. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa presumes that sufferings from apartheid can be healed through truthful testimony. In Ghandhi's “satyagrapha,” the power of truth through the human spirit eventually wins over force . Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ethics contends correctly that a truthful account lays hold of the context, motives, and presuppositions involved .Telling the truth depends on the quality of discernment so that penultimates do not gain ultimacy. Truth means, in other words, to strike gold, to get at “the core, the essence, the nub, the heart of the matter” . For Henry David Thoreau – though addressing a different issue – when we are truthful, we attempt to “drive life into a corner and¼if it proves to be mean, why then to get the genuine meanness out of it and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by personal experience and be able to give a true account of the encounter” . For the former secretary general of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, “the most dangerous of all moral dilemmas is when we are obliged to conceal truth in order to help the truth be victorious” . In the Talmud, the liar's punishment is that no one believes him.Augustine , professor of rhetoric at Milan and later Bishop of Hippo, illustrates a non-correspondence view of truth. His rhetorical theory is a major contribution to the philosophy of communication, contradicting the highly secular and linear view of the ancient Greeks. As with Aristotle, rhetoric entails reasoned judgement for Augustine; however, he “break[s] away from Graeco-Roman rhetoric, moving instead toward ¼rhetoric as aletheiac act” . Rhetoric for him is not knowledge-producing or opinion-producing but truth-producing . The Epistolae Doctrina Christiana scourges the value-neutral, technical language of “word merchants” without wisdom.Truth is not fundamentally a prescriptive statement. The aletheiac act in Augustine “tends to be more relational than propositional, a dialogically interpersonal, sacramentally charitable act rather than a statement¼taking into account and being motivated by [the cardinal virtues] faith, hope, and charity” . The truth for him does not merely make things clear, but motivates us to belief and action. In truthful communication for Augustine, “it is not enough to seek to move men's minds, merely for the sake of power; instead, the power to move is to be used to lead men to truth”. (shrink)