Sunday, October 26, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Chapter two of Controversies in Media Ethics by Gordon and Kittross discusses the origin of ethics. It discusses mostly ethics on the individual level in media. Since I am a journalism student I will focus on how the journalists develop their ethical values and what influences the decisions they make. First we will start with how journalists and more broadly people in general develop their ethics. Fred Endres did a study in 1985 with newspaper journalists. In his study, Endres found that parents and early home life was the biggest influence on their ethics. The next biggest influence was experience. I think that these are two things that have had an influence on me as well and can see how they would affect journalists. I would say that my upbringing has a big influence on me more so than my experience since I am relatively inexperienced.
Weaver and Wilhoit did two studies of media professionals to get an idea of their ethics. They came up with the typical journalist: “A married white protestant male in his mid thirties with a bachelor’s degree from a public university with 12 years of experience.” This typical journalist had some of the same values that shaped his ethics as discovered by Endres. One main thing that Weaver and Wilhoit found was that this typical journalist believes he has to tell the citizens about the activity of the government and other public service aspects of the job. This can pose a problem to the ethics of a journalist. If they feel so strongly to serve the public they want to tell the public, but by doing so they may put the public at risk. For example when there was the sniper in Maryland the police kept saying that the shooters were in a white box truck, but journalists knew the police were not looking for a white box truck. The journalists printed what the police told them to help their investigation, but this did not serve the public any good. This is an ethics standpoint that they developed. Perhaps from their experience or maybe from even earlier in their childhood. Ethics are very interesting and impossible to tell where they are truly inherited. I think it varies from person to person. It is important to get a grasp of our roots and influences to really understand our ethics.
the following link has an essay that contains some of Weaver and Wilhoit’s material:
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Throughout this semester I will be writing about chapters in the book Controversies in Media Ethics by A. David Gordon and John Michael Kittross. The first chapter is an overview about ethics and different theories that try to explain ethics in the media. The theory I have chosen to focus on for this blog entry is the Social Contract Theory. This theory links morality to the state or society. In this theory people are used as moral agents. They affect other people to decide what is moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. This is very imaginable in todays day and age when so many people are worried about what others might think, or are concerned about every little thing a person does. Sacramento State University gives a nice lay out of social contract theory at
This website helps enforce the idea that people are worried about what others will think.
Another aspect of social contract theory is the fact that people in media do what is deemed ethical because they have nothing to gain by breaking the rules. People rely on one another to follow the rules. This is what helps keed things in order. People are expected to make the ethical decision.
I believe this is a very applicable theory because it holds true to what modern people believe in. There is a conscience in everyone telling them to do the right thing, and they are expected to follow that. In doing so they encourage others to do the same thing. And thus people act as moral agents, keeping each other in line. We as humans are social creatures, so it is natural for us to interact and make good decisions in the presence of others. This is run of the mill ethics. People always want to get ahead, but they can’t always do that by being unethical, so they are ethical. They follow the rules and that encourages everyone to follow the rules.