Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Media Ethics

So, media ethics has been on my mind; not just because I'm taking a media ethics class, but because my concerns with the Democratic primary and its media coverage: specifically the coverage of Hillary Clinton. My media ethics textbook outlines multiple ethical perspectives: deontological, utilitarian, universal, etc. But, as I think about the sexist coverage of Hilary (i.e. "She's a bitch, She's a monster, Iron My Shirt," etc.), I can't help but think that regardless of your ethical standpoint, there is little justification for such coverage. Perhaps arguing from an egoist or Machiavellian-egoist point of view might be able to justify such coverage by arguing that reporters might benefit from such coverage; thus, it is justified. However, the authors of my textbook argue that most, or at least many journalist, cling to universal ethics as a justification for the job they perform (i.e. educating the public, serving the public good, etc.). So, one can only wonder where these principles were in play when the NY Times ran its highly criticized piece about John McCain and supposed infidelity or at least the possible appearance of, yet no journalist would actively pursue, during the primary campaign, serious investigation of the true allegations against John Edwards. Clearly, I have a pro-HIllary point-of-view; however, I think that media ethicality evaluations about the coverage of her campaign are deserving of serious academic, critical and ethical evaluation. I also can't help but wonder wether our societal evaluations of racism and sexism and the cultural emphasis, or rather emphasis on eliminating them, play a serious role in the cultural conversation about those types of discrimination and the ethicality of each. One is highly, highly culturally disdained, while the other is disdained in talk but rarely in action. As Geraldine Ferraro wrote in her compelling editorial, Hillary supporters know that if the media or surrogates of the campaigns had engaged in racism, leaders of both parties would be screaming from the hilltops about the discrimination, but very, very, very few barely lifted a finger to discuss sexist issues in the campaign. For now, that is all I have to to say about this topic....far more questions than answers, and perhaps, my support of Hillary makes me less comfortable in ensuring my views are not tainted....but then again perhaps my strong support and abhorrence of the sexist coverage just demonstrates that ethicality is important in every situation, and just because one recognizes it more in one situation than another doesn't change the actual original question.

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