Media Ethics And The Public Sphere 2009 10


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Media Ethics And The Public Sphere 2009 10

  1. 1. MAC373 [email_address]
  2. 2. Where do you stand? <ul><li>What does it mean to be a journalist? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the point of journalism? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are journalists responsible to? </li></ul><ul><li>What forms should/could journalism take? </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Flat Earth effect <ul><li>The news factory and churnalism </li></ul><ul><li>Lament about contemporary journalism </li></ul><ul><li>Impact on public awareness/engagement/opinion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sets the shape of news landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shapes public awareness of issues </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The Flat Earth effect <ul><li>The journalist as mediator of public knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Journalist as conduit of public opinion </li></ul><ul><li>Journalism crucial to democracy? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Evidence for Flat Earth News: <ul><li>Justin Lewis, Andrew Williams & Bob Franklin, 2008, ‘Four Rumours and an Explanation: A political economic account of journalists’ changing newsgathering and reporting practices’, Journalism Practice , Vol 2, No 1. </li></ul><ul><li>Justin Lewis, Andrew Williams, Bob Franklin, James Thomas and Nick Mosdell, 2006, The Quality and Independence of British Journalism , commissioned report for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust </li></ul>
  6. 6. The construction of the political public <ul><li>Where are the ancient Greeks? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The polis : open to free citizens </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Jürgen Habermas – The public sphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed” </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. An operational public sphere requires… <ul><li>A knowable civic authority </li></ul><ul><li>A gathering of rational individuals </li></ul><ul><li>A means of communicating public opinion to the civic authority </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists and media act as ‘public organs’ </li></ul>
  8. 8. One way of representing the public in the media… <ul><li>The public inquisitor: the (wo)man for the people? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kirsty Wark </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>John Humphrys </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jeremy Paxman </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jon Snow </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. The Public Inquisitor <ul><li>Acts on behalf of the media institution </li></ul><ul><li>Acts on behalf of the public at large </li></ul><ul><li>Carries “celebrity” cache </li></ul><ul><li>Have come to act as social commentators </li></ul>Paxman versus Howard May 13 th 1997
  10. 10. A question of balance… <ul><li>Broadcast news content required to demonstrate ‘due impartiality’ under Section 5 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code </li></ul><ul><li>Davies claims this pursuit of balance dilutes news and acts as a ‘coward’s compromise’ (2008: 133) </li></ul><ul><li>61% of public think the BBC should be free to hold political views ( Guardian / ICM 2009) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Due impartiality <ul><li>Impartiality itself means not favouring one side over another. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Due” means adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps deflect over-emphasis on extreme minority groups </li></ul>
  12. 12. Another way of representing the public in the media… <ul><li>The political public in action … BBC’s Question Time </li></ul>
  13. 13.
  14. 14. The arrangement of Question Time as an instrument of democratic debate <ul><li>The panel as representatives of positions across the “political spectrum” </li></ul><ul><li>The audience as representatives of public interest and concern </li></ul>
  15. 15. The discursive management of Question Time <ul><li>Chairperson and production team act as agenda setters and arbiters of legitimacy and truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chair adjudicates on the extent and suitability of panel responses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chair adjudicates on admissibility of audience questions according to the established agenda </li></ul>
  16. 16. The public sphere and media conduct <ul><li>To what extent does participation in the public sphere empower both journalists and other citizens? </li></ul><ul><li>Should our treatment of individuals be on the basis of their being rational subjects or their being naïve, potential victims of media/journalistic expertise? </li></ul><ul><li>Does this form of engagement qualify as journalism/news? </li></ul><ul><li>Should journalism be rational, emotional or opinionated? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Some points to consider <ul><li>Televised election? </li></ul><ul><li>BNP on Question Time (October 22 nd )? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the public interest here? </li></ul><ul><li>What format should these event take? </li></ul><ul><li>How should balance be handled? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Direct public engagement <ul><li>Guardian/Trafigura/Farrelly gagging order (Oct 12 2009) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Direct public engagement <ul><li>Streisand effect – networked amplification </li></ul>
  20. 20. Real time news
  21. 21. Real time news
  22. 22. Real time news
  23. 23. Hyper-local public spheres ?
  24. 24. Variants: The popular public sphere <ul><li>The public sphere operates as a component of the formal political realm </li></ul><ul><li>The participatory element of the public sphere can be used in other media contexts </li></ul>
  25. 25. The media and participation <ul><li>Media principles and ethics founded on the basis of a particular form of ‘public’ </li></ul><ul><li>Participation (interaction) has become a selling point in itself, recasting the public as consumers </li></ul><ul><li>The emerging participatory sphere therefore meets the need of the media </li></ul>
  26. 26. The Media Sphere <ul><li>“ Through a combination of the market and audience demand, the media becomes a space for public participation and discussion outside of the political realm, which nonetheless has political and cultural consequences” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>John Hartley (1996) Popular journalism for the term ‘media sphere’ itself </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. The reaction of the theorists <ul><li>Serious political insight requires we look at popular culture as well as high culture </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Gramsci (The Prison Notebooks , 1971) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Forms of participation <ul><li>The telethon (Children in Need, Live 8) </li></ul><ul><li>The telephone vote (Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity) </li></ul><ul><li>The radio phone-in (Radio 5 Live) </li></ul><ul><li>The talk show: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public discussion (Kilroy, Donaghue, Vanessa’s Real Lives) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Therapeutic (Oprah) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict (Jerry Springer) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. The “Popular” Public – Nightmares with Trisha and Jerry
  30. 30. The “Popular” Public – Nightmares with Trisha and Jerry <ul><li>“ Western man has become a confessing animal” </li></ul><ul><li>Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality , Volume 1, p. 59 </li></ul>
  31. 31. The “Popular Public – Nightmares with Trisha and Jerry <ul><li>Confession is a means of reproducing moral subjects. </li></ul><ul><li>Sex has become part of a moral discourse. </li></ul><ul><li>Confession has moved from the private realm to public spectacle. </li></ul>
  32. 32. The “Popular” Public – expertise, management and power <ul><li>Jürgen Habermas (1987) The philosophical discourse of modernity : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There has emerged a historically constructed division between “common knowledge” and “scientific rationality”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accordingly, within popular forms of discourse, scientific or rational forms are sustained through recourse to authority. </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. The “Popular” Public – expertise, management and power <ul><li>Livingstone and Lunt (1994) Talk on television </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular discussion shows have situated these forms of knowledge together, presenting them (inappropriately) as having an equal claim to legitimacy. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. The “Popular” Public – expertise, management and power <ul><li>Speakers invited to contribute within the frame of an editorial narrative. </li></ul><ul><li>Questioning of speakers seeks to contain them within an established agenda, and seeks to encourage them to contribute to that agenda. </li></ul>
  35. 35. The “Popular” Public – expertise, management and power <ul><li>The place of speakers on the floor is protected by the host. </li></ul><ul><li>Speakers are invited to speak on behalf of institutions and disciplines, but their contributions are summarised misrepresented and placed in conflict with the available “lay” discourses. </li></ul>
  36. 36. A new ethics of the “popular” <ul><li>The emergence of an alternative frame of public service </li></ul><ul><li>The stress on emotionality and therapeutic forms </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Lunt and Paul Stenner (2005) “The Jerry Springer Show as an emotional public sphere”, Media, Culture & Society 27(1): 59-81. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Questions <ul><li>Are talk shows sufficiently free from institutional control to serve as a space where public opinion can be formed? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they provide freedom of access and voice to the public? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they constituted on the grounds of a rational disinterested populace seeking consensus? </li></ul><ul><li>Does this qualify as journalism? </li></ul>
  38. 38. The “Popular” Public – discussion points <ul><li>Is the popular public participation programme a legitimate form of public sphere? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the emphasis on programmes such as Trisha on spectacle and televisuality rather than constructive and informative discussion? </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the political and cultural implications of the forms of subjectivity generated in programmes such as Springer and Trisha . </li></ul>