Contemporary Media Ethics: A Practical Guide for Students, Scholars and Professionals
Edited by Mitchell Land and Bill W. Hornaday
Contemporary Media Ethics: An Open-Minded, Practical Approach for Studying Media Ethics
When America’s mass media communicators confront complex ethical dilemmas, they usually take a utilitarian approach—which means they make decisions based upon "the greatest good for the greatest number." Although the utilitarian approach has many strengths, critics point out that the final arbiter of what is best for the community falls upon the individual communicator, who is not always in a good position to make such a determination.
In contrast, a communitarian approach emphasizes community values as the final arbiter of a moral dilemma. Mass communicators should make decisions based on the values of the community rather than upon anticipated consequences or personal ethics. But, critics point out, what is community? A neighborhood, a city, a state, or a nation? And what if a "community" has a conflicting set of values? Which one should dominate, and who has the right to choose?
Many media ethics textbooks lean toward one model or the other. But Contemporary Media Ethics uses both perspectives to understand and resolve ethical dilemmas that mass communicators face. The three chapters in the first section of the book ("Foundations") examine the history and philosophy of the utilitarian and communitarian perspectives, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of both. Then the remaining 23 chapters, which are written by leading media scholars and media professionals, apply both of these perspectives to real-world cases that deal with terrorism, AIDS, racial justice, environmental activism, homosexuality, sex in advertising, public relations, and the First Amendment.
In Contemporary Media Ethics, readers also are introduced to the "Point-of-Decision Pyramid Model"—a new method for ethical decision-making developed by the editors that emphasizes a philosophical foundation as a starting point. This deductive approach is contrasted with the more inductive approach implied by the Potter Box, thus giving this book a unique niche in the media ethics textbook market.
About the Editors
Mitchell Land ( Ph.D. University of Texas) serves as director of the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton and is founder of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest. His research has been published in the Howard Journal of Communication, Journal of Communication, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, African Urban and Rural Studies, Judicature, the Business Research Yearbook, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, and African Technology Forum. He also is a contributor to John Merrill and Arnold S. de Beer’s Global Journalism and is author of "Status of Media in French-Speaking West Africa" (published in the Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications).
Bill W. Hornaday (M.J. University of North Texas) is a business reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. During the past 15 years, he also worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Indianapolis Star. Hornaday has won numerous state and national reporting awards and is best known for his extensive reportage in 2002 and 2003 of the bankruptcy of Conseco Inc., the third-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.
448 pp. / 7 x 10 format / 12 Illustrations and photographs/ Spring 2006 / Includes CIP Data / ISBN: 0-922993-42-4 (paper) $59.95