Media Ethics Goes to the Movies

Media Ethics Goes to the Movies

Media Ethics Goes to the Movies

Media Ethics Goes to the Movies

Synopsis

Certain films seem to encapsulate perfectly the often abstract ethical situations that confront the media, from truth-telling and sensationalism to corporate control and social responsibility. Using these movies--including Ace in the Hole, All the President's Men, Network, and Twelve Angry Men--as texts, authors Howard Good and Michael Dillon demonstrate that, when properly framed and contextualized, movies can be a powerful lens through which to examine media practices.

Excerpt

All that William Boot, the protagonist of Evelyn Waugh’s great satiric novel Scoop, knows about newspapers before he goes to work for one is what he learned in the dark from Hollywood. “He had once seen…a barely intelligible film about newspaper life in New York where neurotic men in shirt sleeves and eye-shades had rushed from telephone to tape machines, insulting and betraying one another in surroundings of unredeemed squalor.” of course, moviegoing isn’t necessarily the best preparation for a reporting job—as Boot’s subsequent misadventures in journalism demonstrate. But when used astutely in the classroom, movies can become a valuable teaching tool, a powerful lens through which to examine media professions.

Media Ethics Goes to the Movies grew out of classes taught by the authors. We compared notes and found that abstract ethical theories became vivid for our students when played out in the dramatic narrative of film. We discussed how certain movies seemed to fit perfectly with particular ethical concepts—for example, Eight Men Out and loyalty, or Deadline U.S.A. and social responsibility. After many discussions, we realized that the lessons we had taught, and the ones we had learned, offered an opportunity to collaborate on a book that might help students, teachers, and media practitioners in their quest to define and enact ethics.

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