Information is Power

Filters on the Internet are becoming a large part of society as more and more websites are created with content inappropriate for certain users.  It will be a heated debate what should and should not be filtered out, but a few ethical perspectives could help us arrive at a possible solution.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative tells us that there should be a standard set that everyone follows (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, 2012).  It is important for people to be able to get the information they deserve to know, but should be allowed to find all the information needed when doing research projects as in the case in Washington (Schwartz, para. 2).

However, using the Categorical Imperative, it is also important to be socially responsible, so if a site is inappropriate for certain viewers, it might be best to not let anyone view it, especially in a public place like a library, so as not to risk having someone accidentally see the site, even if they aren’t the one using the computer.

The same logic follows with Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance.  Behind the veil, it is important that we protect everyone so it might be best to block the sites for everyone to protect the younger generation.

As stated on the blog “The Ethics Of…”, information is power (The Ethics Of… Privacy, para. 32).  And that power can be used for good or bad, so behind the veil, it would be best to restrict people from getting the information, so that it isn’t used for evil purposes.

 

Reference List

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Schwartz, M. (2012, April 12). Washington Library Allowed to Filter, Court Holds. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/04/industry-news/washington-library-allowed-to-filter-court-holds/#_ .

The Ethics Of… Privacy. (2014, August 07). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://theethicsof.com/2014/08/07/the-ethics-of-privacy/

Gaming for Good

Video games can do good.  It is just a matter of the media focusing on the bad effects and people more worried about people being influenced poorly by playing violent games instead of focusing on the positive effects video games can have.

Using Kant’s Categorical Imperative and Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance, I see that violent video games can have negative effects and should not be made, but games that improve health and recognize a person’s social responsibility are fine and help improve society (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, 2012).

The fact that people’s behavior changes from playing a video game is nothing new, but rarely are stories published that talk about how a person changed their behavior for the better after playing a game (Helmore, 2014).  Behind the veil of ignorance, any game that improves a person’s behavior or attitude would always be a good choice because it would improve society on the whole (Helmore, 2014).

The video game industry has to be socially responsible, and with the studies done that have shown video games can help improve people’s health, it is up to the industry to continue making such games (Helmore, 2014).

Reference List

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Helmore, E. (2014, April 12). Ethical gaming: Can video games be a force for good? Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/12/ethical-video-gaming-games-for-change-festival.

Code of Ethics: Values

Values are what make up the bulk of any code of ethics.  A list of the values the organization holds most dear shows how their representatives will act and how they will interact with clients.  For my personal code of ethics, the most important values are transparency and loyalty.

Transparency means being honest with what you say.  It means putting all of the facts out at the beginning and not trying to hide behind anything.  Transparency is important to me because it encapsulates a lot of the other values that are in my code of ethics.  This value includes reporting everything fairly and accurately.  It needs to be clear enough for any reader to understand what is being said and needs to be reported fully.

Transparency also includes the issue of saying why certain decisions were made.  It is important that if there is a debate about a certain topic, that you are able to answer questions about why you chose to act the way you did.  If clients have concerns about how you went around a topic, you should have an ethical basis for your choice.

Loyalty is also a big value for me because of the breadth.  It includes loyalty to myself, loyalty to my peers, loyalty to clients and loyalty to society.  When making ethical decisions, I need to consider who I need to be most loyal to in that situation and help that guide my decision.  Loyalty is important to me in personal relationships so it makes sense that it would also be a top priority in my professional life as well.

BP Oil Spill PR Response

The BP Oil Spill in April 2010 got national attention because of the large environmental impact it had on the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding areas.  BP was quick to respond with clean up work and activism to help restore the Gulf to its original state (Deepwater Horizon).

Now, years later, BP has moved away from activism to an approach showing they are working to be socially and environmentally responsible by looking for problems before they arise.

Using Rawls as an ethical perspective, BP’s stance to move away from activism is justified.  Behind the veil, no one would know who was responsible for the oil spill and would be happy a company is working to be socially responsible and address problems before they arise (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, 2012).

Using an Aristotelean approach, the middle ground would be to work to be socially responsible, but also continue efforts in the Gulf to restore it after the incident.  It was BP’s fault for the oil spill and it is good they worked for a time to help restore it, but BP should not move to a position where it acts like it never happened.

Reference List

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Deepwater Horizon accident and response. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2016, from http://www.bp.com/en_us/bp-us/commitment-to-the-gulf-of-mexico/deepwater-horizon-accident.html

Does Ant-Man have Bigger Problems?

Last year, Ant-Man was one of the biggest movies and with that comes lots of advertising.  In September 2015, CARU investigated some of the television advertising for Ant-Man that occurred during episodes of Spongebob Squarepants on Nickelodeon.  CARU’s main concern was the age group targeted by airing this advertisement during a midafternoon showing.  In the agreement between the MPAA and CARU it states, “Under the terms of a referral agreement entered into with the MPAA, if CARU finds an advertisement for a film rated PG-13, R or NC-17 in any medium primarily directed to children under 12…” (CARU Refers Broadcast Advertising for PG-13-Rated ‘Ant-Man’ to MPAA for Further Review, 2015).

CARU sent this back to the MPAA for further investigation.  The MPAA responded by saying that Spongebob Squarepants has an older-skewed audience and that the advertisement shown did not involve much violence. The MPAA decided no further action was needed.

This plays into the professional culture of advertising well (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, 2012).  As professionals, the agreements made need to be kept between organizations and all codes of ethics should be followed.  Both of those happened in the case, as the agreement was still in tact because of the older-skewed audience the MPAA cited. (CARU Refers Broadcast Advertising for PG-13-Rated ‘Ant-Man’ to MPAA for Further Review)

The advertisement that was chosen to air did not involve as much violence as some others aimed at the older audiences.  The advertisers did well to go about their work in the correct way to create advertisements that suited all target demographics and did not cross any lines. (Christians, et. al., 2012).

The clients got their advertising done in a tasteful way that respected the audiences so the public could not be mad about children seeing intense violence while watching TV. (Christians, et. al., 2012).

 

Reference List

CARU Refers Broadcast Advertising for PG-13-Rated ‘Ant-Man’ to MPAA for Further Review. (2015, September 10). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://www.asrcreviews.org/caru-refers-broadcast-advertising-for-pg-13-rated-ant-man-to-mpaa-for-further-review/

 

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

The Airbrushing Debate

Airbrushing images has become a staple of advertising in today’s media world.  Is there a line that needs to be set for advertisers to follow? Or how far will it go before the public cries foul?

The article, Is airbrushing in magazines and advertising out of control? (Leesong, Lumby, Moss, Swinson, 2011), four viewpoints are presented on how to approach the airbrushing issue.  I side most with the opinion of Daniel Leesong.  Leesong is the lone advertiser of the group and gives the viewpoint from that of an advertiser.

Leesong suggests airbrushing images is fine—but should be done in moderation.  This approach most resembles that of Confucius’s Golden Mean.  The extremes of the airbrushing issue are either airbrushing every photo to the most extreme measure so every picture is “perfect” or never airbrushing a photo and just placing the picture in the ad without any corrections.

Leesong aligns with this principle almost immediately in the article.  Leesong (2011) says, “Like most things, it’s about moderation. Some airbrushing is essential to get the best quality production possible, while overuse leaves a plastic effect that does not endear an image to its audience.”

Advertisements should reflect reality.  Obviously, they cannot be exact, but Leesong suggests making small adjustments does not change the integrity of the photo as long as it is not overdone.  If an advertisement shows a result that is not possible after using the product, it should not be produced.  Leesong (2011) also mentions that all airbrushing should be done “in line with industry codes.”  This shows that the codes of ethics in the industry play a vital role in the airbrushing debate.

Reference List

Leesong, D., Lumby, C., Moss, T., & Swinson, J. (2011, August 6). Is airbrushing in magazines and advertisements out of control? Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/the-question/is-airbrushing-in-magazines-and-advertisements-out-of-control-20110805-1if23.html

 

Loyalties of the Marketer

As a marketer in today’s society, ethics constantly comes into play.  Kate Cooper (2014) discusses how marketers twist information and pictures so that people focus on certain things and push the truth to the back of their minds.  When marketers are working on a campaign, they have their values and principles to look at, but loyalties play a major role in deciding how to best market a product.

Above all, a marketer has the loyalty to him or herself (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, Jr., 2012).  If the marketer is not comfortable with the information in an ad, it would be difficult to release it.  Marketers have to find the line they personally will not cross and stick to it.  If other people make choices based on what the marketer produced, and the marketer does not believe what is in an advertisement, the marketer would not be able to truly justify the ad if questioned by the public.

Marketers also have a loyalty to their clients (Christians et al., 2012).  Whoever is asking for the ad expects a product that boosts their product and is effective in reaching the target demographic.  The food companies expect that the ads will not put them in a false light.

Finally, marketers have a loyalty to society (Christians, et al., 2012).  They have a responsibility to tell the truth in their ads.  As noted by Cooper in the video, marketers use colorful language to push the good aspects of farms and how food products are created rather than showing the real nature of the process.  Phrases such as “farm fresh” are technically true because the animals are from a farm, but the marketers do not show the bad aspects of these farms.  This fulfills both the loyalty to society to tell the truth, but also keeps the loyalty to the client intact because the public does not see the darker side of food production.

Reference List

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Cooper, K. (2014, May 12). ETalks – The Secrets of Food Marketing. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKTORFmMycQ.

 

 

 

 

 

What Do We Deserve to Know?

A common ethical issue journalists are faced with is a person’s right to privacy vs. the public’s right to know.  What is the information that the public deserves to know even if it is a private matter of a person’s life?  This issue has become more and more prevalent with technology expanding daily.

One case that has come up recently is whether to release police body camera footage of shootings.  One such case occurred in Haverhill, New Hampshire last year, when a family of a man shot by police asked to block the release of the footage publicly.  The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, but several media companies asked for the footage to be released publicly (“Family blocks release of police body camera videos of Canterbury man’s shooting,” 2015).

As discussed by the authors in The Bakersfield Californian case, newsworthiness is on the side of the journalists, for this footage is a newsworthy event.  However, agape shows us why the family wants the footage blocked (Christians, Fackler, Richardson, Kreshel, Woods, 2012).  It is a horrifying event that could cause the family more pain and suffering that isn’t needed.

This case and others like it show why the public’s right to know vs a person’s right to privacy is so tricky.  One has to determine what values are at play on both sides of the matter (Christians, et al, 2012).  Why does the public need to know about the event? Is it really newsworthy, or more for entertainment value?  Is the person trying to block the release of information just to not be embarrassed or are there other factors involved?

Using Thomas Emerson’s summary of the right to privacy, one must be sure to stay outside of the circle that every person has.  A journalist must make the tough decisions of when to make information from inside that circle known, but must have a strong ethical case behind it when they do (Christians et al, 2012).

Reference List

Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K. B., Kreshel, P. J., & Woods, R. H., Jr. (2012). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Family blocks release of police body camera videos of Canterbury man’s shooting. (2015, August 5). Retrieved February 4, 2016, from WMUR9 website, http://www.wmur.com/news/family-blocks-release-of-police-body-camera-videos-of-canterbury-mans-shooting/34556798

The Hutchin’s Commission in Today’s Media World

One of the main ethical issues needed to be addressed today is truth-telling of breaking news.  News outlets like to be the first to break the news.  They find a source to give them information and release it without ever confirming the information with other sources.  In a world where breaking news occurs almost daily, get the facts correct to begin with is an important issue.  If people check in on Twitter at the start of a breaking news story and see information, they might spread it to others, whether it is correct or not.  Even in the Hutchin’s Commission report, it said the press needed to be accurate and give context (Blevins, 1997).  In our society, when news is broken, it isn’t always accurate and there is rarely context given until days later.

With our changing society, news outlets have also had to become more creative in how to have people choose them as their news source.  This means creating click-bait online and teasers on television to bring readers back to watch.  However, these are often editorialized and make readers think one thing about a story before having a chance to see what the real news is.  Take for example the Sports Illustrated article, “The Dirty Game.”  For days before the article was launched, Sports Illustrated hyped the release on Twitter and Facebook to entice readers in.  But when the article launched, some close to OSU saw holes in what was written and areas where the authors did not do their due diligence as journalists (Smith, 2013).  But with as much as the company publicized the release, one would expect the reporting to be airtight.  A commission in today’s society would have to look at how news outlets advertised themselves so the public does not think one way about an issue before the full story would be released.

 

Reference List

Blevins, F. (1997). The Hutchins Commission. Retrieved January 28, 2016, from

http://mtprof.msun.edu/Fall1997/Blevins.html

Smith, B. (2013, September 10). OSU Players, Affiliates Sound Off About SI’s Article.

Retrieved January 28, 2016, from http://www.news9.com/story/23393070/former-osu-football-players-sound-off-about-sis-article

Why Not Kant?

Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative has always been an ethical perspective that perplexes me.  It seems to be the hardest one for me to employ in my own life and I’ve had trouble finding situations where using this would be beneficial.  There are some cases where the Categorical Imperative suggests taking the same action as one of the other ethical perspectives, but sometimes takes some work to decide that that is the right decision to make.

It’s hard for me to employ because it seems to be an extreme action.  Saying that one decision is the right one for all people is extreme.  Everyone is in different situations and has a different moral compass.  Kant suggests that telling the truth is a maxim every human being should follow.  But to quote Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Levy, 2009), “Sometimes it is more noble to tell a small lie than a painful truth.”  There are situations we face everyday where telling a small lie might be better for us in the long run than telling the truth, yet the Categorical Imperative would say this is never the right action.

The Categorical Imperative has been a challenge for me because it fails to take into account any extenuating circumstances.  No matter the situation, the same action should always be taken by every person on the planet.  When making decisions in my life, I always look at the pros and cons of my actions, yet the Categorical Imperative makes the pros and cons seem worthless.  The lack of conditions makes it hard for me to use the Categorical Imperative because every situation is slightly different.  There is always some detail that changes so using a universal law in every situation doesn’t make sense to me.  The fact that the Categorical Imperative sacrifices social standards makes it hard to use as well.  There is a reason society has standards.  They are generally easy to follow and society does not like when they are broken.  If we must sacrifice these standards in order to follow a universal law, why have them in the first place?

Reference List

Levy, S. (Director). (2009). Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian [Motion picture on DVD]. United State of America: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.