Week 10- Media Ethics

Week 10- Media Ethics

Karan Abrol

The worrying scope and role of ethics in today’s world

Never has the news been so fundamental to society as a whole. The Colonial era, and all eras before it, survived without any access to mass media as sophisticated as that of the modern era. The ability of humanity to broadcast ideas to audiences beyond the reach of the human voice has been a revolutionary agent in society. It is my personal belief that NO democratic or civil rights movemtn in all of history would have survived or persisted to the extent of which it has without the media’s ability to bring people together in ideology and equality.

The 20th century, however, has revealed an ugly side to the same advancement. A feature of the media that pulls society backwards in progress weven while pushing it forward. The media has revealed to the world (as is its purpose) the malleability of human beings in general, the ability of the crowd to be swayed, and the severe consequences of this fact.

Because the media can be used for beneficial social change, it follows that it can, by the same token, be misused for any number of harmful intentions.

The ability of media sources to use agenda setting methods to control the news stories that are covered, and the capitalization of this tool in order to favour sensationalism and popularity over truth and civic duty has had devastating affects on society. Historically, the media not only facilitated, but actively participated in the election of leaders who make bad decisions, wars that need not be fought, the minimization of democracy and civil rights, and, most worrying, the propogation of content that makes media consumers LESS informed rather than more informed. This is contradictory to the fundamental goal of all forms of mass media.

It is worrying that propaganda helped promote The Great War in the 1920s. It is worrying that a publicized campaign elected a german dictator that cause a genocide in the 1930s. It is worrying that American news media has fostered hatred for communism, the Japanese, Immigrants, Muslims, Blacks and LGBT members ever since the 1950s. Every decade shows us a devastating misuse of the media to set society back 50 years, even when the same media suceeds in pushing society forward in other ways. The same phenomenon that helped create democracy serves to undermine and attack its virtues.

My personal stance on media ethics is not specific to different kinds of misuse. I am not focused on the importance of Libel laws, Privacy Rights or even First Amendment rights of journalists and the press. I am more concerned with the overarching attitude and misuse of modern media, as well as a society that is so heavily dependent on the media. Every media producer, every journalist, everyone writing on a blog that will be viewed by someone other than him or herself, has a responsibility to society to respect the power and ability of all forms of media, and uphold the basic virtues on which mass media has built its foundation. No one is exempt from this responsibility, and anyone who disregards it is doing all of humanity a severe disservice.


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