Mass Media Ethics Essay

Mass Media Ethics Essay

  1. “The press got all the facts (more or less), it got too many of them. But it never found a way to report meaningfully about death, which of course was what it was all about.” Michael Herr, Dispatches [1977], 214-215.

  1. How can there be too many facts?

Journalists work is possibly surrounded by factual information always in their ordinary operations. This is mainly due to the fact that most of them report what they are able to see and therefore undoubtedly correct. The notion of availing the factual information has been the key icon in making media the major eye and a peephole that can be used to focus at the intrinsic connotation of life systems that could other wise remain forever untold. However, some occurrences generally get beyond one’s comprehension capacity and therefore lack the simplicity of expression that can be used to relay the message.

As it has been hard to separate bone and marrow, the factual details of major occurrences that see commitments aimed at doping some grave activities like mass killings in the battle fields throws one into a state of confusion. Ordinarily, denial of an individual’s life was considered a taboo, presently it is the last of the last aspects that the world will allow under whatever circumstances. Michael Herr (214-215) indicates that he was out of conventional or unconventional capacity to express the correct information necessary to relay the situation as it was in the battle field. Referring to the situation as ‘illuminating objects targeted for destruction’, Michaels Herr indicated that the operations in the ‘heart of darkness’ gives facts that occur in a complex setting that are hard to interlink without meaning being misunderstood. This is a case of too much factual information possession by the media but with limited outlay to the audience.

Michael (214-215) indicates that the factual information especially with regard to physical experience requires time to process the content in the reporter’s mind before it is possible to release it. This is due to the connection between the past and present that is necessary to ensure the correct platform and channel is used for information to make the correct impact. Notably, journalism is all about reporting the correct information that makes the correct impacts to the intended people at the local or international level. Coming face to face with the experiences of horror like those experienced in warfare changes the journalists perception and possibly leaves more unanswered questions that makes what they see freeze their minds. During this time, one needs to search for the correct relay system that would report in simplicity the most complex excessive facts without diluting the facts. Therefore, the facts are there but in complexity demanding simplification for better audience comprehension which takes time.

As indicated earlier, facts and fiction are hard to drive out with the reporter being unable to differentiate the two in cases of extremities. The war in Vietnam was described by Herr (214-215) as an indication that history is fiction and requires consciousness and extreme sanity to give the correct information. During the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the factual information of destruction not only for property, but thousands of life reveals major facts linked to life susceptibility, inhuman political decision making, and possible vulnerability between west and east. All these factual information superimposed in the countless lives losses forms a conglomeration of facts hard to come to terms with as an ethical being. Notably, the complexities of these expansive facts have possibly been the main cause of shift to commercial externalities by most of the journalists and media institutions where the facts are easily compromised. Having the facts involves giving them in the most correct mode and format, however, journalists are unable to enshrine themselves with the facts and give in to what people demand. They consume the menu instead of the meal (Herr, 214-215).

  1. How can one report meaningfully about death?

Meaningful reporting is considered by Herr Michael to be one of the most difficult aspects especially for the journalists who experience extreme situations like the horrors of war that are surrounded by inhumane loss of sacred lives. Meaningful reporting of death therefore demands realism that goes beyond the conventional journalism. In Vietnam War, pasting of the conventional information gave the message but lacked the correct impact and emphasis on the intense fire smoking from the ground. Lack of realism as Herr (214-215) puts is a “cross fertilization of ignorance.” It is due to lack of this realism that reporting meaningfully lacked effectiveness.

In addition, the reporters should entrench cultural phenomenology where they inject new aspects that are able to assist the people understand and comprehend the actual information being given to them. In mathematics, information analysis is mostly presented in graphs, similarly, death reporting demands that analysis and synthesis that gives the exact picture that not only contains all the information but puts it in a manner that all the details will be gotten by the audience. This is not easy and Herr likens it to sharpening an Axe for surgery but it is mandatory for effective death reporting. It is important to take enough time to ensure that the correct system is sought, effective channel is found, and the whole information comprehended by the reporter before reporting meaningfully about death. .

  1. How can reporters do their duty? What is journalisms job, in war and peace?

Reporting, as a career has often been marred by lack of effective description on the operation systems. It has often led to greater confusion and disarray due to the variation of the situations and changes in time and technology that demands revitalization of the previous systems. However, reporters should seek ethical virtues and responsibilities that carve their intrinsic personalities and shapes the occurrence and happening of events in different regions. To begin with, they must be driven by integrity that calls for the most humane consideration to ensure that the effects of all issues are brought to light. Through effective reporting, most of the undercover and misdeeds of people and institutions are brought to light and therefore form a starting point for analysis and possible changes.

Honesty should be a key item in ensuring that the correct information is given to the audience. Whereas many institutions of central administrations act as major center-posts for human rights advocacy, the same is not reflected on the ground especially with reference to war between nations. However, it has been unclear of whether the central authorities are part to it and therefore mostly sycophant in their claims. Therefore, honesty should be applied to give the real information as it happened without alteration of the facts. It is essential that the journalists avoid compromise that is rooted in the modern capitalistic system that makes it hard to derive the correct picture or even link the real facts experienced on the ground to the audience.

Journalism’s role during the periods of war and peace has been and remains only one, to relay the correct information in the most effective way that makes the audience understand the events as they were. Therefore, it is the role of the journalist to ensure that they establish the best channels and systems that make their operations easier and more effective. As a result, they are supposed to assimilate peculiar reporting structures in form of communication strategies that gives an effective map of the operations on the ground. During the war in Vietnam, it was very easy for the people to get misinformed by conventional reporting. However, Herr’s (214-215) use of map-territory/ language-reality in a phenomenological mode gave the correct picture to the audience. The language must remain clear and irony very selective with shifts and other literary devices being used more tactically than strategically.

  1. “Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perception, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of propagandists” (Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 3rd ed. [1999], 1)

  1. Is this a good (accurate, adequate) account of propaganda? Why or why no?

It a not a good account for propaganda. This is because most of the aspects relating to the vice are not based on the fact but on selective information that is aimed at giving only and only the expected outcome. Therefore they are used as major tools to hide facts especially in political realms. Notably, it takes the propagandists time to evaluate the information available to him and select the one that have higher interest to him and maximum influence for his agenda to his audience. In addition, the claim of shaping people’s perception is mainly confusing and directed at preventing reality from getting to the people. Though it is enshrined on the basis of freedom of expression, it is highly unethical in that it deprives people of their ability to make choices. During the 2007 US presidential elections, propagandas that linked the president to be (by then) Barrack Obama with Muslims and terrorism were aimed at giving the wrong perception about him and therefore not fit for presidency. Besides, propagandas are aimed at manipulating cognition and therefore direct behavior to achieve a given objective. During the split of Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches, propagandas were used for political interests that linked various groups and other affiliations with malice in trial to win more support from the audience. In most of the cases, the propagandas are aimed at getting an added advantage over an opponent and give information with omissions or is totally wrong altogether. They are also directed at presenting the information in a manner that the audience would not question or challenge the initiator like in the use of slogans and symbols and therefore can be referred as a soft but strong weapon that kills with emphasis.

  1. Is propaganda good if and only if its desired intent is good? Why or why not?

Propaganda application is wrong and should not be employed at all cost. As indicated earlier, then propulsion of propaganda is usually based on giving information that is non holistic in order to achieve a certain intent. Even when the intent is okay, it denies the people of their ability and chance to get full information. Besides, it denies people the ability to make the correct choices due to the limited information given to them. Arguably, all aspects in the globe have the positive and negative sides which are very essential to their choices. Indeed, scholars argue that the reverse should actually take place and the audience given more autonomy over their decisions (Garth and Victoria, 1).

Even where the intent is very positive like in some advertisements, the messages still have vast chances of misinterpretation. Taking into account that people are generally different in their understanding of the intended messages, the propagandas have the potential to get misinterpreted and cause negative effects elsewhere. At no single moment will there be a decision acceptable to all, no matter how good it is according to the initiator. In non competitive advertisements like the claim that “family control pills are the most for a healthy family” fails to give all the facts about the negative effects. This may cause the negative effects to affect many people without their conscience.

Though good intended propagandas have occasionally been employed to emphasis on various aspects especially when people fear certain issues for previous negative reasons, the system can form a platform for later bad propaganda application. Managements systems should assimilate processes where truth and statistics give the correct information necessary for making correct decisions. Accepting to use propaganda therefore slowly carves a habit that would be looked at for communication in the later periods. It is therefore unethical as it may brood structures and systems that discourage people from personal critical thinking.

  1. Is this definition of propaganda an example of propaganda? Why or why not?

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perception, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of propagandists” is an example of propaganda since it has its major aspects. The statement is selectively poached and deliberately framed to achieve the intent of influencing the reader’s perception about propagandas (Garth and Victoria, 1). According to the statement, the reader is fixed and limited to the view that the propagandist’s main aim is to manipulate the audience depending on his expectations. According to the statement, the audience is convinced that the sole and only desire of a propaganda is to further the interest of the propagandist. At this time, the reader is denied the chance to question the statements and therefore made to accept the way it is given to him/ her and therefore forms a good example of propaganda.

Work cited page

Michael, Herr, Dispatches. New York: Sage. 1977.

Garth, Jowett and Victoria O’Donell, Propaganda and Persuasion, 3rd ed. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1999.

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