Jle 2010 Week 2


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Week 2 of my series of lectures on journalism ethics in 1st semester 2010

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Jle 2010 Week 2

  1. 1. 3/7/2010 Ethical Fault Lines Contradictions and the political economy of ethics Fault Lines fault line: (geol.) a planar fracture in which the rock on one side of the fracture has moved with respect to the rock on the other side the term fault zone is used when referring to the zone of complex deformation that is associated with the fault plane he creation and behaviour of faults is controlled by the relative motion of rocks on either side of the fault surface [wikipedia] Fault Lines in Journalism fault line: (journ.) an ethical fracture in which the accepted rule or action on one side is contradicted by an alternative rule or action the term fault zone refers to the zone of complex contradictions that is associated with the social relations of journalism practice the creation and behaviour of ethical fault lines is controlled by the relative motion of the ideas, ethics and practices of the newsroom in constant friction with the surface of the world around it 1
  2. 2. 3/7/2010 New fault line: Digital Dilemmas Web 2.0 has created a new set of ethical fault lines: Existential questions Digitalization represents a new Who is a journalist? technical paradigm that reorganizes in a wide What is news today? scale the Political Economy of Communication Information and Culture, as it allows a complex Applied questions convergence that makes consolidated markets unstable, How do you manage contesting hegemonic Positions Facebook and social C sar Bolano 2009 networking? Arguments and Cases Ethical dilemmas can occur in spectacular single moments Watergate Jayson Blair Others take longer to Fault lines are the tremors that often shake individual journalists develop and/or their organisations to their core as they grapple with ethical Responsible v. Free dilemmas Hirst & Patching (2007, p.3) The ‘Information Revolution’ Dialectic: paradox, conflict contradiction & change The dialectic – as a way of thinking: To ‘make sense of the connection between the material world and consciousness’ The dialectic – as the trajectory of change: The ‘mutual constitution’ of social, economic, cultural and political forces The ‘disintegration and reintegration of the modern world’ (Mosco 1996, p.5) ‘Flux is king in journalism. Dynamic thinking and dialogue is essential to journalistic progress’ (Merrill 1989, p.8) 2
  3. 3. 3/7/2010 The movement of the dialectic Ideas and social forces are A thesis is in constant motion challenged by its opposite – a moment of balance is Thesis (antinome or not stasis – action action antithesis) there is constant disequilibrium The struggle is momentarily Change is Synthesis Antithesis resolved, but caused by the Merrill talks of a then erupts actions of “triadic movement” again people – the dialectic in reacting to journalism Each new the world action action thesis around them (synthesis) is challenged in Institutions and turn structures Antithesis Synthesis contain action competing social forces Why political economy? If, to consider ethics we need to understand: ideas and social forces the actions of people institutions and structures … How do we know which ideas, people, social forces, institutions and structures are important? How do we understand their interactions – mutual constitution? Mutual Constitution POLITICAL ECONOMY MUTUAL CONSTITUTION …the study of the social relations individuals (journalists), institutions particularly the power relations, (media firms, civil society), structures that mutually constitute the (law, economics) and processes (news production, distribution, and gathering, regulation) are in constantly exchange of resources, such as evolving relationships. communication. (Mosco 1996, pp6-9) (Mosco 2004, p.6) COMBINED & UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT The dialectic is not a smooth one-to-one operation. Power relationships are unequal and subject to ebbs and flows Thus, the process of mutual constitution – the impact of one event or action on another social actor – is uneven. For example: legal and ethical approaches to a particular dilemma or paradox do not necessarily occur at the same time, nor do they necessarily match-up THE ETHICO-LEGAL PARADOX 3
  4. 4. 3/7/2010 Manufacturing Consent The propaganda model The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda. Propaganda must be an ethical issue "...a way of coming to understand the world without illusion.“ James Peck, The Chomsky Reader Is it conscious, or unconscious? Mosco’s political economy historical analysis, the present arises out of the past understanding the broader social system a moral philosophy and a study of social values intervention and action in the world (praxis) What political economy believes Media systems are social structures The media system is an important factor in social systems Media systems help to create and reproduce systems of belief Structure and policy impacts on the types of content produced Systems are shaped by market structures, technologies, government policies and the culture of news work (what journalists do; how and why) 4
  5. 5. 3/7/2010 The problem of journalism Separation of editorial and commercial functions How real is it in practice? The incorporation of “certain key values” into codes of ethics Which values? Are they the right ones? How a society can construct a Dependence on official sources media system that will generate stenographic journalism something approximating democratic journalism is a compromise with power fundamental problem for a free susceptible to spin society. Soft news over hard (McChesney 2008, p.25) The limit of media freedom No credible scholarly analysis of journalism posits that journalists have the decisive power to determine what is and is not news and how it should be covered. (McChesney 2008, p.58) EPMU Code of ethics – Preamble Respect for truth and the public's right to information are over-riding principles for all journalists. In pursuance of these principles, journalists commit themselves to ethical and professional standards. A code to overcome the paradox? Censorship is largely self-censorship by reporters who adjust to the climate of practice at their media organisation. Tully, Intro (2008, p.5) …values in the news are rarely explicit …each story implicitly expresses a value about what is desirable (Tully, Intro (2008, p.6) Self-censorship can be linked to ownership and control Values are often those of the systemic consensus 5
  6. 6. 3/7/2010 A code provides a set of values for journalists report and interpret the news with scrupulous honesty not allow personal interests to influence them use fair and honest means to obtain news identify themselves and their employers respect private grief and personal privacy These are individual values – collectively applied – are they enough? For this week’s tutorials Read Intro Ch1 – Tully on the values of journalism Hirst & Patching (2007) Ch. 1 & Ch. 2 The objectivity norm in American journalism (Schudson, 2001) Professional confidence and situational ethics (Berkowitz & Limor 2003) Next week Lecture: codes of ethics and ethics case studies methods of ethical decision-making Reading: Price (2007) Ch. 23 Hirst & Patching (2007) Ch. 10 6