This study investigated experimentally whether social class of people who appear in news stories influences Chilean journalists' ethical reasoning. Based on schema, social identity, and moral development theories, it found that journalists applied lower levels of ethical reasoning when faced with an ethical dilemma associated with the poor, an effect moderated by participants' involvement in the story. Psychological mechanisms-such as involvement, mental elaboration about stories' subjects, and identification with them - influenced participants' ethical thinking.
Social class is a commanding force shaping news media production that is often overlooked. Because class is associated with income, power, and status,1 it is pivotal in the news-making process and journalists' work. As Gans2 wrote: "The news deals mostly with those who hold the power... with the most powerful officials in the most powerful agencies; with... people [who] dominate the socioeconomic hierarchy."
However, class is scarcely mentioned in newsrooms and few studies on news media deal with it.3 The poor are both underrepresented in news coverage and linked to negative stereotypes and criminality.4 This negative coverage of the poor occurs in the United States and elsewhere,5 but is especially relevant in countries such as Chile, where socioeconomic inequality is a defining aspect of society.
Although work routines and organizational and extra-media pressures shape news content6 and explain, in part, this bias against the poor,7 it has been argued that individual reporters' prejudices also play a role.8 Most journalists are college-educated people who Lisually report about their known environment9 and who have been socialized in a profession and in organizations that tend to value more powerful sectors of society.1" Consequently, they may rely on stereotypes when covering people from lower socioeconomic classes. This may occur when faced with an ethical decision such as, for instance, deciding whether to publish a story, how to publish it, or when to run it.
This study investigates experimentally whether the social class of individuals who appear in news stories influences the ethical reasoning of Chilean journalists. Ethical reasoning is defined as people's judgment of which alternative is more morally justifiable, just, or right." Based on schema, social identity, and moral development theories, the study hypothesizes that journalists will show lower levels of ethical reasoning when news stories' subjects are from lower classes (out-group members) than when they are from middle and upper classes (in-group members). The study also explores the extent to which stereotypes based on class are automatically associated with certain social issues affecting journalists' ethical thinking. Finally, it examines the effects of psychological mechanisms - involvement, mental elaboration, and identification with the subjects of the stories - on journalists' ethical reasoning.
Negative media coverage of the poor may have harmful consequences for society because the media perpetuate misleading images that may inhibit the bridging of social inequalities. Although many factors affect unequal media coverage of some social groups, it is relevant to study the impact of news subjects' class background on journalists' moral judgment because ethical decisions may have a concrete impact on media content.12 Additionally, internalized prejudices may be suppressed by becoming aware of these negative perceptions, and by making a conscious effort to overcome them.13 Such efforts may be a first step toward better media coverage.
Because poverty has been racialized in the U.S. news,14 the stereotypes of poverty are often associated with racial minorities. Gilens,15 for example, revealed that poverty coverage was disproportionately dominated by black faces. To exclude confounding factors such as the activation of underlying racial stereotypes with class, this study was conducted in Chile. This country is a good case study for exploring the impact of class on ethics because class is more salient in Chile than race.16
Chilean Context and Media. This South American country of sixteen million shares with its neighbors (Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru) the Spanish colonial heritage. The population is more racially homogeneous than the United States' but is divided by a strong socio-economic inequality. Chile is the second most unequal country in Latin America after Brazil but is among the most racially homogeneous nations in the region. There are no Afro-descendent inhabitants, and 8% of the population identifies itself as indigenous. The majority of the population is mestizo and white.17 Today, Chile is a stable liberal democracy, a fact reflected, in part, by the media system, which is one of the few in Latin America classified as a free press.18
Currently, two private conglomerates dominate the press market and four national networks prevail in the broadcast system. Radio is the least centralized medium with several foreign, national, and institutional owners.
Chilean journalists belong to the most educated sector of society. Chile, with the United States, Korea, Spain, and Ecuador, has the highest proportion of college-educated journalists.19 Although 94% of Chilean reporters and editors agree that their respective outlets are interested in poverty,20 content analyses revealed that the poor are significantly underrepresented in the news.21 Chilean poverty has been found to be related to crime, housing problems, domestic violence, prostitution, drug trafficking, and alcoholism.22
Schema Theory and Stereotyping. Schemas are cognitive structures consisting of organized prior knowledge about situations, individuals, or types of stimuli that facilitate processing new information, inferring missing information, or retrieving old information.23 Stereotypes are particular types of schémas that organize people's perceptions about other individuals in certain social categories.24 Stereotypes, and even prejudices,25 are ingrained in the nature of how knowledge and information are acquired and used.26 Although schémas, in general, and stereotypes, in particular, play a useful role in managing the flood of information, they can result in distorted and unfounded perceptions of social groups.27 These inaccurate perceptions may become harmful when they are consciously or subconsciously used to discriminate against certain groups such as the poor.
Because stereotypes have been frequently activated since childhood,28 they are internalized and applied automatically. Furthermore, people may use them subconsciously to evaluate certain social groups even when they consciously reject those stereotypes.29
Social Identity Theory. This theory posits that there is an in-group bias. People have greater identification and more positive attachment to members of the in-group.30 Individuals see in-group members as more heterogeneous and tend to favor them, and discriminate against outgroup members. Thus, their social identity - self images resulting from social categories of which individuals consider themselves members - influences intergroup discrimination and explains the emergence of stereotypes and prejudices among groups.31 Fiske and colleagues32 found that experimental participants showed positive feelings toward members they considered in-groups - whites, students, middle class, women - and pure derogation toward the poor.
Schema and social identity theories are useful because this study tests whether journalists - an educated, upper-middle class group - differentiate and discriminate against poor people. According to both theories, two cognitive processes may play a role in journalists' evaluation on how to deal with the subjects of the stories they face: subconscious and negative stereotypes of poor people, and intergroup discrimination based on class.
Moral Development Theory. This study treats as its dependent variable the journalist's level of ethical reasoning. It is theoretically founded in the theory of moral development proposed by Kohlberg,33 based on Piaget's work34 which asserts that people's moral development progresses in six hierarchical stages. These six levels may be collapsed into three main levels. In the Preconventional Stage - the lowest level - the individual is concerned with his/her own interest. People who use this level in their ethical reasoning consider as "right" the actions that benefit themselves or others as long as the interests of self and other coincide. In the Conventional Stage, individuals think according to others' expectations. People define what is "right" by law and norms without further justification. In the Postconventional Stage - the highest level - people define their rights and duties in society based on universal principles and ideals, such as the Rawlsian, Kantian, or Utilitarian ethics. Laws, rules, and codes are open to debate, and cannot be biased in favor of some.
Rest35 advanced Kohlberg's work by devising a paper-and-pencil instrument to measure the level of moral development. He also reconceptualized Kohlberg's main stages according to schema theory.36 The Preconventional Stage was renamed Personal Interest Schema; the Conventional Stage became the Maintaining Norms Schema; and the Postconventional Stage was labeled Postconventional Schema.
The instrument (the Defining Issues Test or DIT) presents different "ethical dilemmas" followed by twelve items that represent different moral schémas. The DIT activates moral schémas that the subject has already developed.37 Individuals rate and rank items according to their moral importance. As they encounter an item that is meaningful and match it with their preferred schema, they will rate it as important. Otherwise, the item appears as a meaningless, simplistic, or unconvincing phrase, and, therefore, it receives a low score.38 This instrument has been applied to members of different professions across the world.39 To date, it has been adapted to journalistic research twice, and only in the United States.40
Journalists' Ethical Practices and Reasoning
Ethical practices and journalists' reporting methods vary across the world.41 Although there are similarities (e.g., for the vast majority, it is unacceptable to reveal confidential sources), differences exist. Only 7% of Canadian journalists justified undercover reporting while in Chile 58% found it acceptable. Taking a job to gain inside information was widely accepted in Britain but not in Chile.
Diverse factors influence journalists' ethics, including newsroom experience, family upbringing, religious values, journalism education, news media managers,42 and the size of the newspaper where the reporter works.43 An experiment using the Journalists' Ethical Reasoning Instrument (JERI), developed to parallel the DIT, revealed that the race of subjects in the ethical dilemmas affected participants' ethical reasoning, with lower levels exhibited when the subjects were African American than when they were white.44 This finding that negative stereotypes may negatively affect journalists' ethical reasoning suggests that perhaps subjects' social class would also influence ethical reasoning.
Psychological Predictors of Ethical Reasoning. Involvement: The elaboration likelihood model45 asserts that people process messages through either the "central route," which requires a critical evaluation of information to form an attitude, or through the "peripheral route," which is more superficial and requires less effort to process information. When people are more involved, they are more likely to process information centrally and engage in message elaboration. Therefore, to think more about a message can lead to attitude change. Studies of journalists' moral development have found that higher involvement leads to better ethical reasoning.46 Additionally, greater levels of knowledge about certain issues or social groups lead to greater levels of involvement.47 Because journalists are more familiar with people from middle-upper classes, this investigation explores the effect of involvement. In this study, involvement is associated with relevance and interest.48 That is, people with low levels of involvement might think that an ethical dilemma is pointless and would lack interest in it, while people with higher involvement levels would find the dilemma relevant and would care about it.
Mental Elaboration: This concept refers to the level of thought invested in a dilemma. The ELM predicts that more message elaboration leads to better decisions.49 Previous research has found that more thought about the dilemmas positively influences journalists' ethical reasoning.50
Identification: Identification mediates the relationship between exposure to media messages and persuasion or attitudinal changes.51 Cohen52 defined identification as an imaginative process through which an individual assumes the identity and perspective of another person. In this investigation, identification is associated with both emotional and cognitive elements. The first dimension is related to empathy or sharing the feelings of the story's subject.53 The second dimension is linked to sharing the perspective of the subject (i.e., the degree to which someone feels or understands the story's subject and his/her behavior).54
Hypotheses and Research Question
Based on schema, social identity, and moral development theories, the following hypotheses and research questions are examined:
H1: Participants will show lower levels of ethical reasoning when story subjects are from a lower class than when subjects are from middle-upper class or when they do not know the subjects' class.
This is based on schema and social identity theories, which state that people develop and hold negative stereotypes about out-group members. It is also based on moral development theory, which poses that individuals use moral schémas to think about dilemmas. If journalists hold negative perceptions about people from lower classes (outgroups), they may use lower levels of ethical reasoning when faced with a dilemma that involves the poor.
H2: Participants who are not given class information but infer that the class of the story subject is lower will show lower levels of ethical reasoning than those who infer that the subject's class is middle-upper.
This is based on the automatic nature of stereotyping. If participants automatically associate certain topics with the poor, they may apply lower levels of ethical reasoning and vice versa.
H3: Greater involvement, mental elaboration, and identification with story subjects will be associated with higher levels of ethical reasoning.
The literature suggests that greater involvement and more mental elaboration about the dilemmas improve ethical reasoning. Additionally, social identity theory predicts that people favor the in-group. Thus, it would be expected that as identification increases, so does the ethical reasoning.
RQ1: Is there an interaction between class and the psychological predictors (involvement, mental elaboration, and identification) that affects participants' ethical reasoning?
This question examines whether subjects' class and psychological predictors of ethical reasoning have an independent effect on ethical reasoning or whether the effect of class on ethics depends upon the allocation of psychological predictors.
This research experimentally tested the effects of story subjects' social class on journalists' ethical reasoning, using an adaptation in Spanish55 of the Journalists' Ethical Reasoning Instrument (JERI).56 This instrument is appropriate to measure Chilean journalists' ethical reasoning because it was devised to work as the DIT, which had been previously applied and validated in Chile.57
Participants. This study was conducted in Chile with college journalism students and professional reporters to compare whether greater newsroom experience affects journalists' ethical thinking. Participants read four ethical dilemmas about different social issues: sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicide, and drug rehabilitation. They had to decide whether they would run the story or not after the main subject allowed herself to be cited, but then changed her mind and asked the news organization not to publish the story.
The ethical dilemmas do not have a single clear and correct answer. They are about issues that journalists face and that may occur in both lower and middle-upper classes in Chile. Additionally, all the dilemmas are set in an "important metropolitan newspaper," and all the protagonists are women to control for confounding factors. All the stories are about the same 135-word length (see Appendix).
Experimental Design. The experiment was a 2 (social class) ? 6 (order) experimental design. The first condition, a within-subject factor, was social class, with two levels (lower and middle-upper classes) and a control group (no class). For the social class condition, participants in the treatment group read the same four dilemmas, but the class background of the protagonists was manipulated. Each participant received two ethical dilemmas in which the protagonists were poor and two ethical dilemmas in which the protagonists were from middle-upper classes. The names and occupations of the protagonists and the locations where the stories occur were manipulated to reveal the class of the protagonists. The names were selected according to the procedure used by a study on labor discrimination in Chile:58 a group of Chilean college students classified a sample of names and last names into lower and middle-upper classes based on their personal perception. Only those who were consistently classified as lower or middle-upper were used in the study (e.g., Yasna Tapia vs. Consuelo Illanes). The professions or occupations were divided into two types: professionals and unskilled workers (e.g., college student vs. janitor; engineer vs. street vendor). The districts were selected from the classification used by Bravo and colleagues59 based on a national socioeconomic strata survey. They listed high income and lower income districts of the Chilean capital city (La Reina vs. La Granja).60 The second condition, order of the stories, was a control.
A manipulation check was conducted among twenty-five collegeeducated Chileans who responded to an e-mail questionnaire to establish empirically that the treatments create different perceptions of social class for educated, middle-upper class people in Chile. The participants were recruited using a snowball sampling method. After reading each story, manipulation check participants were asked in what social class they think the victim belongs (middle-upper or lower). One hundred percent of participants answered middle-upper when the stories' subjects were from higher class and lower when they were poor. They were also asked to classify whether four names, four occupations, and four districts used in the stories are typically associated with middle-upper or lower classes in Chile. Eighty-four percent of participants (n=21) answered all the questions in the expected direction for each classification.
Participants in the control group read four dilemmas with no location and unidentified protagonists to avoid any possible cue about subjects' class. The control group also serves to examine whether participants automatically associated stories with certain social classes, triggering stereotypes that may affect the individuals' decision-making process. Control group participants were asked what social class they thought the people in the dilemma belonged to (lower, middle-upper, and other). Participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups and to the different orders of the stories, which were counterbalanced with a Latin Square design.
Dependent Variable. The dependent variable was level of ethical reasoning, measured by JERI.61 The ethical dilemmas, however, were created for the study. Because journalists' ethical practices and reporting methods change across countries,62 the dilemmas were adapted to the Chilean journalism context, after interviewing four professional journalists currently working in newspapers and TV in Chile.63 In this instrument, the ethical reasoning is measured by the quality of the reasons behind each decision, not by the decision itself. After the participants read each ethical dilemma, they had to decide whether to publish the story or not (there was also an option "can't decide"). Then, the participants read twelve items based on Kohlberg's moral development stages, and rated how important each statement was in making an ethical decision using a 5-point scale (great, much, some, little, and no). Each dilemma had the same twelve statements, although some minor word changes were made to fit the story.
Items represented the personal interest schema (e.g., "Is the woman always going to have this horrible, graphic reminder of what happened?") and the maintaining norms schema (e.g., "Does the public have the right to know all the facts about domestic violence and the consequences to the victims and their families?"). Of the twelve items, four corresponded to the postconventional schema (e.g., "If the paper doesn't run this story, will the factors that led to situations like this persist over time?" "What would best serve society?"). In each dilemma, there is also one important-sounding but meaningless item (i.e., "What is the value of life prior to society's perspective on personal values?") to identify the participants who choose items that sound important rather than those that represent their moral schémas. Participants who chose more than two of these meaningless items as "the most important" are purged from the dataset.
After rating the twelve items, the participants ranked the four most important items. From this ranking, a score was calculated. Ranking a postconventional item as "most important" scored 4 points; as "second most important," 3 points; and so forth. The possible scores for each dilemma ranged from 0 to 10 points.
Psychological Predictors. After reading each dilemma and ranking the issues, participants responded to a questionnaire to measure involvement, mental elaboration, and identification. Using a 7-point Likert scale, involvement was measured with a 4-question index: "How relevant was the dilemma?" "How involved were you in the dilemma?" "How concerned were you about the people in the dilemma?" and "How much did you care about the people in the dilemma?" For mental elaboration, participants indicated how much "they thought about the woman," "about the woman's family," and "about others like them." Identification was measured with a 5-question index: "How much did you identify with the people involved in this dilemma?" "How much did you imagine yourself in the place of the woman in this dilemma?" "How much did you feel what the woman in this dilemma was feeling?" "How much empathy did you feel for the woman?" "How much did you understand the reasons why the woman does what she does?" AU participants provided background information: age, sex, education level, and amount of working experience in the news media.
Eighty-four journalism students from a well-known university in Chile and thirteen Chilean professional journalists participated in the study. Of the ninety-seven participants, two were purged from the data for not answering the questionnaire correctly. Women comprised 54% of the sample. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 30. The mean age was 22.2 years (sd = 2.6). Forty-seven percent of the participants had media working experience.64 On average, they had worked for 12.8 months (sd = 15.4). Of the ninety-five participants, sixty-four read dilemmas with identification and thirty-one read stories without identification. The three indexes that measured the psychological predictors of ethical reasoning were reliable (α of involvement was .92; mental elaboration, .90; and identification, .91). The scores of most of the variables were normally distributed and contained no extreme outliers.65
H1 predicted that participants would show lower ethical reasoning when story subjects were from a lower class than from middleupper classes or participants did not know the subjects' class. This hypothesis was not supported, t (63) = .28, p = .49. Additionally, a f-test showed no differences in ethics scores between people who read dilemmas about subjects from lower classes and those who read dilemmas without identification, ? (63) = -.23, p = .41.
H2 predicted that participants who did not receive class information but inferred the class of the story subjects as lower would show lower levels of ethical reasoning than people who infer the class of the story subject as middle-upper. This hypothesis was supported (see Table 1).
H3 predicted that greater involvement, mental elaboration, and identification with the subjects would be associated with higher ethical reasoning. This hypothesis was supported. The strongest association was found between involvement and identification and ethical reasoning66 (r = .23, p = .01, for both predictors). Mental elaboration also was positively correlated with ethical thinking (r = .19, p = .03).
RQ1 asked whether there is a significant interaction between class and the psychological predictors (involvement, mental elaboration, and identification) that affects people's ethical reasoning. The results show that there was an interaction between class and involvement (see Figure 1). Mental élaboration and identification, however, did not affect the relationship between class and ethics.
Because each subject was exposed to both lower and middleupper class conditions, interactions were tested following a two-step procedure. In the first step, the sample was assigned to a low or high category divided by the median of each psychological predictor; participants whose score was above the median were assigned to the high category and those whose score was below the median were assigned to the low category for each variable. In the second step, planned contrasts were done to assess whether the differences in ethical reasoning between low and middle-upper classes were significant within low and high levels of each psychological predictor.
When participants faced dilemmas whose subjects were from lower classes, the difference between means for the low- and highinvolvement groups was statistically significant, t (30) = 1.71, p = 0.05. When participants faced dilemmas about subjects from middle-upper classes, the difference between means between low- and high-involvement groups was not significant, t (30) = .81, p = .22. Thus, involvement changes the relationship between class and ethics. When participants faced stories with subjects from lower classes, they had lower levels of ethical reasoning under low-involvement than in high-involvement situations. Conversely, when participants faced stories with subjects from middle-upper classes, their ethical scores did not differ based on involvement level. Thus, the class of the stories' subject affects the ethics of journalists when they are not involved with the dilemma, but class does not influence ethics when the journalists are more involved.
Discussion and Implications
This investigation found that class does affect journalists' ethical reasoning, but only indirectly. The effects of stereotypes based on social class were either moderated by involvement with the story or were applied subconsciously to evaluate the ethical dilemmas. This investigation shows that psychological mechanisms - such as involvement and mental elaboration - influence journalists' ethical thinking. This study also found that a new psychological predictor - identification with the subjects involved in the dilemma - affects people's ethics.
Social Class and Journalists' Ethics. Prejudices based on class affect journalists' news judgment, particularly when faced with an ethical decision. This study did not find that people show lower levels of ethical reasoning when they were directly exposed to subjects from lower classes. One may wonder if, because subjects' class was highly salient in the dilemmas with obvious names, occupations, and locations, the participants may have reacted to the stimulus and counteracted their stereotypes. It is also possible that because class was operationalized by providing salient cues in the text, that participants may have processed subjects' class through the "central route," which requires a critical evaluation of information.67 Thus, participants may have critically assessed subjects' class and counteracted their stereotypes.
Further analyses revealed that a psychological mechanism was moderating the relationship between class and ethical reasoning. Participants who showed low involvement with the dilemma were affected by subjects' class, with participants using lower quality ethical reasoning for poor subjects. When the subjects were from middle-upper classes, however, participants' involvement did not influence their ethics. This suggests that involvement with the story can counteract prejudices based on class and lead journalists to make better ethical decisions.
This investigation also revealed that stereotypes based on class act automatically. The literature68 suggests that people may use stereotypes subconsciously to evaluate social groups even when they consciously refute them. In this study, when respondents mechanically associated a certain social issue with the poor, they applied lower levels of ethical reasoning. But when they connected an issue with people from middleupper classes, their ethics improved. Because subconscious stereotypes may be harder to suppress, the negative portrayal of certain social groups, like the poor, may persist.
Psychological Mechanisms, Class, and Ethics. Although not included as a central aspect of this study, further analyses revealed that social class affected two of the three psychological mechanisms that operate behind the evaluation of an ethical dilemma. Participants showed significantly higher levels of mental elaboration and identification with subjects from middle-upper classes compared to those from lower classes.69 They thought more intensely and had greater identification about subjects that seem more recognizable (in-groups) than those who are less familiar (out-group members).
This investigation also demonstrated that the three psychological mechanisms - involvement, mental elaboration, and identification - were positively associated with participants' ethical thinking. These results confirmed previous findings70 and added a new predictor of ethical thinking that had not been explored: identification. Theory suggests that people tend to favor the in-group based on social identification,71 and it also proposes that identification mediates the relationship between message exposure and attitudinal change.72 Therefore, it is not surprising that as identification with the subjects involved in the dilemma grows, so do ethical reasoning scores. The results indicate a greater emotional and cognitive connection might help participants to overcome other factors that impair their ethical thinking, such as prejudices about certain groups.
This study was conducted with journalism college students and some professional reporters. An obvious limitation of the investigation would be that college students are not professional journalists yet, which might affect the generalizability of the findings. However, the use of college students in this experimental study is useful as a first investigation that tests whether the class effects are present at all.73 Additionally, many of the students had newsroom experience. In fact, the analysis showed that there was no difference in ethical reasoning scores between journalists who had newsroom experience and those who did not.74 Hence, although future investigations should replicate this experiment with a sample of only professional journalists, a similar pattern in ethical thinking could be expected.
Although the dilemmas were carefully created to reflect situations that journalists may face, they were fictional and did not represent the variety and complexity of situations with which journalists have to deal in their professional life. Future studies can expand these situations. It is also important to highlight that this study focuses on moral judgment, a critical component but not the only determinant of moral behavior. To act morally, it is also necessary to have moral sensitivity (i.e., the ability to learn and interpret the dilemma), moral motivation (the ability to prioritize moral values), and moral character (being courageous and persistent to overcome distractions).75 Finally, this study was conducted in Chile, a country where class is more salient than race. Because journalists' ethical practices differ across countries,76 future research should test the effects of class on journalists' ethics in other settings.
To further explore the direct effect of social class on ethical reasoning, future investigations should make less salient the subjects' class in the dilemmas. A more subtle stimulus may decrease the participants' awareness of subjects' class, and avoid a possible counteraction of negative stereotypes.
Overall, this investigation contributed to the literature of moral development by exploring the effects of social identity with in-group members and negative stereotypes against marginalized social groups, such as the poor, on the quality of ethical thinking. Social identity and schema theories provide insight about the psychological mechanisms that operate behind people's ethical judgments and predict that these prejudices against the poor are psychological consequences of the social distance between journalists and these marginalized groups.
These results, however, do not mean that there is no solution for the negative effects of stereotypes. Involvement with the dilemma can counteract prejudices based on class and lead journalists to make ethical decisions of better quality. It is also possible to suppress prejudices if people become aware of them.77 Studies like this seek to reveal the damaging effects of stereotypes to contribute to fairer news media coverage.
Appendix and Notes follow.
1. Social theorists have offered different approaches to the concept of social class. Marx in "Wage Labour and Capital," Selected Works, ed. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1849/1968) argued that class is determined by people's relation to the production process; Weber, as cited in Andrew Edgar and Peter Sedwick, Key Concepts in Cultural Theory (London: Routledge, 1999), incorporated the concepts of "status" and "social prestige": people's speech, schooling and leisure habits define their class. Antonio Gramsci in Selection from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (New York, International Publishers, 1987) added the concept of hegemony; class is related to power and dominance over ideas, institutions, and values.
2. Herbert J. Gans, Deciding What s News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek, and Time (New York: Vintage, 1979), 62.
3. Don Heider, Class and News (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004); Don Heider and Koji Fuse, "Class and Local TV News," in Class and News, ed. Don Heider (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004), 87-107.
4. See, e.g., Martin Gilens, "Poor People in the News: Images from the Journalistic Subconscious," in Class and News, ed. Don Heider (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 44-60; Maria Elizabeth Grabe, "Tabloid and Traditional Television News Magazine Crime Stories: Crime Lessons and Reaffirmation of Social Class Distinctions," Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 73 (winter 1996): 926-46.
5. See, e.g., Robert A. Hackett and Scott Uzelman, "Tracing Corporate Influences on Press Content: A Summary of Recent Newswatch Canada Research," Journalism Studies 4 (August 2003): 331-46; Don Heider, "Black, Brown and Poor: Who You Don't See on Local TV News and Why," in Brown and Black Communication: Latino and AfricanAmerican Conflict and Convergence in Mass Media, ed. Diana I. Rios and A. N. Mohamed (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), 81-92; Heider and Fuse, "Class and Local TV News."
6. Pamela J. Shoemaker and Stephen D. Reese, Mediating the Message: Theories of Influence on Mass Media Content (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1996).
7. For example, reporters routinely rely on official - and elite - sources to save time and gain power within the news organization, as Gans (Deciding What's News), and Gaye Tuchman, Making News: A Study on the Construction of Reality (New York: Free Press, 1978) have asserted. From an organizational and extramedia perspective, Heider and Fuse ("Class and Local TV News") argue that because news media rely on advertisers, they target and represent people with disposable income because that niche is financially valuable.
8. See, e.g., Gilens, "Poor People in the News."
9. Heider, Class and News.
10. Gans, Deciding What's News.
11. James R. Rest, "Background: Theory and Research," in Moral Development in the Professions, ed. James R. Rest and Darcia Narváez (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994): 1-26.
12. Shoemaker and Reese, Mediating the Message.
13. Mahzarin R. Banaji and Roy Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory: The Bounded Rationality of Social Beliefs," in Memory, Brain and Belief, ed. Daniel L. Schacter and Elaine Scarry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000): 139-75; Patricia G. Devine, "Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56 (1, 1989): 5-18.
14. Martin Gilens, Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Gilens, "Poor People in the News"; Heider, "Black, Brown, and Poor."
15. Gilens, Why Americans Hate Welfare.
16. David De Ferranti, Guillermo E. Perry, Francisco H. G. Ferreira, and Michael Walton, Inequality in Latin America: Breaking with History? (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2004).
17. De Ferranti et al., Inequality in Latin America.
18. Karin D. Karlekar, Freedom of the Press 2005: A Global Survey of Media Independence (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).
19. David H. Weaver, "Who Are Journalists?" in Making Journalists, ed. Hugo De Burgh (London: Routledge, 2005).
20. Fundación Para la Superación de la Pobreza and Fundación Futuro [Foundation to Overcome Poverty and Future Foundation], Los Periodistas Hablan De Pobreza: Primera Encuesta Naciona [Journalists Talk about Poverty: First National Survey] (Santiago, Chile: Hogar de Cristo, Facultad de Comunicación y Letras, Universidad Diego Portales, Fundación para la Superación de la Pobreza, 2006).
21. Fundación Para la Superación de la Pobreza and Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen [Foundation to Overcome Poverty and Communication and Image Institute], University of Chile, La Pobreza En Pauta: Un Estudio En Prensa Escrita Nacional y Regional [Poverty in the Agenda: A Study about National and Regional Print Press], (Santiago, Chile: Hogar de Cristo, Facultad de Comunicación y Letras, Universidad Diego Portales, Fundación para la Superación de la Pobreza, 2006).
22. Fundación Para la Superación de la Pobreza, Universidad Diego Portales and Hogar de Cristo [Foundation to Overcome Poverty, Diego Portales University, and Foundation Hogar de Cristo], La Pobreza Es Noticia: Un Estudio Sobre los Noticieros Centrales de la Televisión Chilena [Poverty is News: A Study about Main TV Newscasts of Chilean Television], (Santiago, Chile, 2006); Ricardo Leiva, Reinas del Desierto [Queens of Desert], (Santiago, Chile: Planeta, 2005)
23. Susan T. Fiske and Shelley E. Taylor, Social Cognition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991).
24. Fiske and Taylor, Social Cognition.
25. Based on the definitions of Banaji and Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory," stereotype refers to the cognitive element or belief about a social group (e.g., politicians are crooks) and prejudice involves the attitudes toward that group (e.g., I dislike politicians).
26. Banaji and Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory"; David Hamilton, "Cognitive Biases in the Perception of Social Groups," in Cognition and Social Behavior, ed. John S. Carroll and John W. Payne (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1975).
27. Hamilton, "Cognitive Biases."
28. Judith D.R. Porter, Black Child, White Child: The Development of Racial Attitudes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).
29. Banaji and Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory"; Devine, "Stereotypes and Prejudices."
30. Henri Tajfel and John C. Turner, "The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior," in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, ed. Stephen Worchel and William G. Austin (Chicago: Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1986), 7-24.
31. Tajfel and Turner, "The Social Identity Theory."
32. Susan T. Fiske, Amy J. C. Cuddy, Peter Click, and Jun Xu, "A Model of (Often Mixed) Stereotype Content: Competence and Warmth Respectively Follow from Perceived Status and Competition," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82 (6, 2002): 878-902.
33. Lawrence Kohlberg, Essays on Moral Development: The Psychology of Moral Development: The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages, vol. 2 (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1984).
34. Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child, trans. M. Gabain (New York: Free Press, 1932/1965).
35. Rest, "Background."
36. James Rest, Darcia Narváez, Muriel J. Bebeau, and Stephen J. Thoma, Postconventional Moral Thinking: A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999).
37. Rest et al., Postconventional Moral Thinking.
38. Rest, "Background."
39. The DIT has been applied in different countries, including Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Chile. See Rest, "Background"; Maria Alicia Halcartegaray and Bernardita Grove, "Evaluación del Instrumento D.I.T para la Medición del Juicio Moral de James Rest" ["Evaluation of the D.I.T Instrument to Measure James Rest's Moral Judgment"], Revista Análisis del Comportamiento [Behavior Analysis Journal] 4 (1, 1989): 20-30.
40. Tom Westbrook, "The Cognitive Moral Development of Journalists: Distribution and Implications for News Production" (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 1994); Lee Wilkins and Renita Coleman, The Moral Media: How Journalists Reason about Ethics (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005).
41. David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit, The Global Journalist: News People Around the World (Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1998); David Weaver, "Who are Journalists?" in Making Journalists, ed. Hugo De Burgh (London: Routledge, 2005).
42. David H. Weaver and G. ClevelandWilhoit, The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996).
43. Scott R. Maier, "Do Trade Publications Affect Ethical Sensitivity in Newsrooms?" Newspaper Research Journal 21 (winter 2000): 41-49.
44. Renita Coleman, "Race and Ethical Reasoning: The Importance of Race to Journalistic Decision Making," Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 80 (summer 2003): 295-310.
45. Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo, Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change (New York: SpringerVerlag, 1986).
46. Renita Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals on Ethical Reasoning: What's a Photograph Worth to Journalists Making Moral Decisions?" Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 83 (winter 2006): 835-50.
47. Darrel D. Muehling, Russell N. Laczniak, and Jeffrey J. Stoltman, "The Moderating Effects of Ad Message Involvement: A Reassessment," Journal of Advertising 20 (June 1991): 29-38.
48. Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals"; Charles Salmon, "Perspectives on Involvement in Consumer and Communication Research," in Progress in Communication Sciences, ed. Brenda Dervin and Melvin J. Voigt, vol. 2 (Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1986): 243-69; Judith Zaichkowsky, "Measuring the Involvement Construct," Journal of Consumer Research 12 (December 1985): 341-52.
49. Petty and Cacioppo, Communication and Persuasion.
50. Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals."
51. Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo, "The Effects of Involvement on Responses to Argument Quantity and Quality: Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion," Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 46 (1, 1984): 69-81.
52. Jonathan Cohen, "Defining Identification: A Theoretical Look at the Identification of Authences with Media Characters," Mass Communication & Society 4 (summer 2001): 245-64.
53. Cohen, "Defining Identification"; DoIf Zillman, "Affect from Bearing Witness to the Emotions of Other," in Responding to the Screen: Reception and Reaction Processes, ed. Jennings Bryant and DoIf Zillman (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991), 135-67.
54. Cohen, "Defining Identification."
55. To be confident about translation accuracy, a back translation was conducted.
56. Renita Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals on Ethical Reasoning: What's a Picture Worth to Journalists Making Ethical Choices?" (Ph.D. diss., University of Missouri-Columbia, 2001); Coleman, "Race and Ethical Reasoning" ; Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals."
57. Halcartegaray and Grove, "Evaluación del Instrumento DTT."
58. David Bravo, Claudia Sanhueza, and Sergio Urzua, "An Experimental Study About Labor Market and Discrimination in Chile: Gender, Social Class, and Neighborhood" (paper presented at the annual convention of the Sociedad de Economía de Chile [Chilean Economic Society], La Serena, Chile, September 2006).
59. Bravo, Sanhueza and Urzúa, "An Experimental Study."
60. The scenarios were created to fit a Chilean context. For example, the concepts "private clinic vs. public hospital" refer to the Chilean health system, which is based on the British health system, where public and private systems coexist. There are some occupations such as street vendor or parking lot attendant that belong to the informal labor market, and are very common in Latin American countries.
61. The DIT showed adequate levels of validity and reliability when applied in a Chilean educational setting, Halcartegaray and Grove, "Evaluación del Instrumento DIT."
62. Weaver, "Who Are Journalists?"
63. In an open-ended interview, the journalists were asked to choose what kind of stories could happen either in lower and middle-upper classes in Chile. They were also asked to choose a true ethical dilemma, that is, a story with no clear-cut answer. They were given different options: (1) use of anonymous sources; (2) decide whether to publish the story after the main subject allowed herself to be cited but then a family member asked not to run it; (3) decide whether to publish the story after the main subject allowed herself to be cited but then changed her mind and asked the journalist not to publish the story. The four interviewees unanimously agreed that the third option was the most compelling ethical dilemma.
64. The professional journalists have worked in magazines, print newspapers, newspapers' Web sites, TV stations, and a radio station. The journalism students with newsroom experience had worked in newspapers, newspapers' Web sites, magazines, TV, and radio stations.
65. Only the variables that measure respondent's age and time working in the media showed a slight positive skew (1.3 and 1.8, respectively). However, they were not transformed to ease the interpretations of the results.
66. The correlation between the psychological predictors did not indicate extremely high multicollinearity. The variables are considered multicollinear if their correlation is greater than 0.80 or less than -0.80.
67. Petty and Cacioppo, Communication and Persuasion.
68. Banaji and Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory"; Devine, "Stereotypes and Prejudices."
69. The mean of mental elaboration for lower class was 4.79 (sd = 1.39) and for middle-upper classes was 5.0 (sd = 1.23), t (61) = -1.69, p = .048. The mean of identification for lower class was 3.9 (sd = 1.34) while for middle-upper was 4.2 (sd = 1.13), t (61) = -2.13, p = .018. For involvement, the differences followed the same trend, although it didn't reach statistical significance, t (60) = -1.58, ? = .059.
70. Coleman, "The Effects of Visuals."
71. Tajfel and Turner, "The Social Identity Theory."
72. Petty and Cacioppo, Communication and Persuasion.
73. Michael D. Basil, "The Use of Student Samples in Communication Research." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 40 (summer 1996): 431.
74. The mean ethical score of those who have not worked in the media was 3.67 (sd= 1.65) and the mean ethical score of those who had newsroom experience was 3.66 (sd = 2.01), f (90) = .04, p = .97.
75. Rest, "Background."
76. Weaver and Wilhoit, The Global Journalist; Weaver, "Who Are Journalists?"
77. Banaji and Bashkar, "Implicit Stereotypes and Memory"; Devine, "Stereotypes and Prejudices.
Teresa Correa is a Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. This project urns funded by the Uberai Arts Graduate Research Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin. The author thanks Renita Coleman for helpful comments and the School of Journalism at Diego Portales University for recruiting the participants.
Dilemmas and Treatments
The manipulations of names, occupations, and locations used to suggest social class differences are included within brackets.
1- A well-known metropolitan newspaper is preparing a feature story about domestic violence for the Sunday edition. Because the editors don't want to use anonymous sources, they send Pablo Donoso, one of the paper's best reporters, to [an emergency public hospital/a private clinic]. After three days' wait, the journalist sees a woman that arrives at the hospital unconscious and brutally battered. The doctors confirm that the injuries are due to domestic violence. The 37-year-old woman's name is [Nancy Soto/Isabel Puga], [works as housemaid/a housewife] and lives in [subsidized housing in the Lo Prado district/an apartment located in Providencia district]. Once [Nancy/Isabel] wakes up, the reporter speaks with her and finds out that she was battered by her husband, [a construction worker who is also leader of the neighborhood association/ a public official]. [Nancy/Isabel] has been enduring frequent beatings for years, so she agrees to tell her story. However, as the journalist is writing [Nancy's/Isabel's] story, she contacts him and tells the journalist that she has changed her mind. She doesn't want her story to be published. Should the newspaper publish the story?
2- Laura Molina, reporter from an important metropolitan daily paper, is investigating a series of rapes that are occurring in different areas of Santiago, perpetrated in public areas and by people unknown to the victims. While she is investigating, she learns that two days ago in a [plaza/shanty town] of the [Vitacura/Cerro Navia] district, [Macarena Velasco/Yasna Tapia], a 20-year-old woman, survived a rape attempt as she was heading to her [university/job as janitor in a public school in the area]. Many previous rapes had been reported in that area in the past year. Therefore, to grab the officials' attention, [Macarena/Yasna] agrees to give her testimony to the newspaper revealing her complete identification. However, as the journalist is writing her testimony, [Macarena/Yasna] contacts her and tells her that she has changed her mind. She asks her not to run the story. Should the newspaper run the story?
3- Ximena Sánchez, journalist from a prestigious metropolitan paper, learns that [Maribel Gaj ardo/Consuelo Manes], a 35-year-old woman who works as [a street vendor/practitioner of a public relations firm], attempted to commit suicide, by trying to throw herself from [a bridge in the EI Bosque district/ the ninth floor of a building in the Las Condes district]. While investigating the case, the reporter finds out that [Maribel's/Consuelo's] husband, [Juan Zúñiga/Álvaro Ruiz], [who also works as a street vendor/an engineer], had taken her to a [public hospital/ wellknown capital city private clinic] after a previous suicide attempt. At the hospital, however, the doctors had only prescribed her some tranquilizers and sent her home. To denounce the hospital's negligence, the reporter decides to publish the news story. However, as the reporter is working on the story, [Maribel/Consuelo] calls the newspaper and asks not to run it. Should the newspaper run the story?
4- Carlos Sáez is working on a story about rehabilitation of hard-drug abuse for an important metropolitan newspaper. In a [rehabilitation center/private clinic] of the [La Granja/La Reina district], he meets [Cintia Fuentes/Carmen Opazo], a 34-year-old [parking lot attendant/college professor], divorced, and mother of two children, who is recovering from a [crack/cocaine] addiction. After many conversations with the journalist, the woman agrees to give her testimony revealing her complete identification. As the reporter is writing the article, [Cintia/Carmen] calls the reporter and tells him that she has changed her mind - she doesn't want her story to be published. Should the newspaper publish the story?
Example of a Dilemma with no Class Cues (Control Group)
Laura Molina, reporter from an important metropolitan daily paper, is investigating a series of rapes that are occurring in different areas of Santiago, perpetrated in public areas and by people unknown to the victims. While she is investigating, she learns that two days ago a 20-year-old woman survived a rape attempt as she was heading to work. Many previous rapes had been reported in that area in the past year. Therefore, in order to grab the officials' attention, the woman agrees to give her testimony to the newspaper revealing her complete identification. However, as the journalist is writing her testimony, the woman contacts her and tells her that she has changed her mind. She asks her not to run the story. Should the newspaper run the story?…