Mixed Media: Moral Distinctions in Advertising, Public Relations, and Journalism

Article excerpt

Mixed Media: Moral Distinctions in Advertising, Public Relations, and Journalism. Thomas Bivins. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 229 pp. $29.95 pbk.

Although Smith's text is structured specifically for the print and broadcast journalist Thomas Bivins acknowledges the non-vacuous nature of the mass communication profession, and includes journalism, advertising, and public relations issues within his book, Mixed Media. As Bivins notes, it is important to consider the ethical aspects of various forms of communication, particularly in a time when many journalism programs offer ethics courses for all mass communication students, not just those pursuing journalistic reporting and editing.

The author, who is professor and John L. Hulteng Chair of Media Ethics at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, has written extensively on mass communication ethics and the application of ethical theory to public relations. His broad viewpoint helps bring the main mass communication players under the same publication "roof."

The text is designed to provide readers with ethical decision-making guidelines, and calls on students to apply their critical thinking skills to resolve dilemmas. Bivins presents the crux of the teaching challenge: "The only possibility of arriving at anything approaching a satisfactory response to our moral dilemmas lies not with rote answers to prepackaged questions but with real sweat that comes only from real thinking." This approach is most evident in the end-of-chapter questions that ask students to apply concepts and defend their responses.

The book's structure permits examination of ethical issues and dilemmas common to the three disciplines, including avoiding harm and telling the truth, professionalism, and social responsibility. …