Media Ethics: A Philosophical Approach

Media Ethics: A Philosophical Approach

Media Ethics: A Philosophical Approach

Media Ethics: A Philosophical Approach

Synopsis

From attempting to inform us about current events to entertaining us with imagined worlds, the media has a primary influence upon how we conceive the world, ourselves, and others. Consequently, the moral complexities, dilemmas, and duties that arise in relation to journalism and the media are difficult to negotiate. Critically developing a philosophical approach to conceptualizing the aim of journalism; the nature of good, impartial reporting; and moral restrictions concerning lies, deceit, violence, and censorship, this book argues for substantive positions concerning what we should, rationally, hold as the moral rights and duties of journalists and the media.

Excerpt

One of the difficulties in taking a philosophical approach to media ethics is that many people often fail to grasp the difference between a philosophical and a sociological, political, or critical-cultural studies position on the issues discussed. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is no clear body of empirical findings or theory that constitutes a philosophical approach and is waiting to be learned. Of course, there is a sociological reason for this. Although historically concerned with central moral and social issues, philosophers have yet to consider many of these issues in relation to the distinctive problems arising from our contemporary media and journalistic practices. But there is a deeper reason too. For philosophy is not so much a subject where we learn information, but one in which we learn how to think about various issues. This is not to deny that many philosophers have made distinctive contributions to the stock of human knowledge. But, rather, there are certain kinds of questions and issues -- those concerned with right and wrong, what constitutes a good life, and the nature of evil -- that can only really be thought of and argued about in a philosophical manner, and only philosophical thinking can deepen our understanding of them.

The topic of this book, media ethics, is an extension of such philosophical concerns. For the question is, in essence, what constitutes ethical media practice and why? Just what is it that journalists, morally speaking, should do? Is it really news to print a story about the sex life of a public celebrity? Are they justified in lying and cheating to get a story? Are intrusions into privacy always justifiable in the name of the public interest? Is showing sexually explicit films on television . . .

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