Books -- Good News: Social Ethics and the Press by Clifford G. Christians, John P. Ferre and Mark P. Fackler

Article excerpt

Christians, Ferre, and Fackler are no strangers to the topic of media ethics. Their previous works have contributed much to the field. Good News: Social Ethics and the Press represents their attempt at developing a normative system of social ethics for the news media. The book draws on philosophy, theology, and communication theory to weave together a perspective on media ethics quite distinct from others. In short, it calls for "structural changes in the press' world-view" emphasizing "the dialogic self, community commitment, civic transformation, and mutuality in organizational culture."

The authors advocate a "communitarian" paradigm of media ethics. This stance recognizes the tension between individuals and society, and suggests that individuals have certain rights as well as a "duty to create a social environment in which others can share those same rights equally." Viewing society in this manner, the news media's role is civic transformation. Rather than acting as a conduit of information, the news media ought to be striving for interpretative insight. This notion of media ethics is derived after explaining three key ideas: the development of individual autonomy, the concerns of communitarian ethics, and the nature of civic transformation. An outline follows on how structural and institutional changes in media organizations are necessary to achieve the type of ethical framework they propose. …