Upcoming and past meetings, events, lectures, resources, and seminars related to media ethics are shared here. The announcements that follow are based on information supplied by the organizations involved or other sponsors. If you wish to have announcements of future meetings published in Media Ethics, please contact the editor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Resources for Teaching Ethics

A growing list of case studies suitable for use in media and communication ethics courses can be found at the Media Ethics Initiative website. The Media Ethics Initiative is based in the Center for Media Engagement in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas Austin.

Arthur W. Page Center research examines digital media ethics in ‘PR Journal’ special issue

The September "Public Relations Journal" is a special issue presented by the Page Center that examines a variety of digital media ethics topics. Research includes studies on CSR, social media, CEO communications, fake news and the engagement of low-income publics. Details here.

 

EDITOR  
Scott R. Stroud  
   
EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER  
Moody College of Communication/UT Austin  
   
REVIEWS/EVENTS EDITOR
 
Tom Cooper  
   
ADVISORY BOARD  
Anantha S. Babbili Jane E. Kirtley
Ralph Barney Christopher Meyers
Michael D. Burroughs Grafton Nunes
Marvin Kalb Jennifer Pozner
Richard Keeble Lance Strate
Jean Kilbourne Larry Rasky
Clifford G. Christians Edward Wasserman
   
FORMER STAFF  
Mike Kittross (Editor, 1996-2018)  
Eric Elbot (Co-editor, 1990-1996)  
Manny Paraschos (Publisher)  
   
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS  
Jay Black Kenneth A. Harwood
Tom Brislin Robert Hilliard
Amy M. Damico Jerry Lanson
Deni Elliott Kaarle Nordenstreng
A. David Gordon Jeffrey L. Seglin
Gary Grossman Jane B. Singer
   
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT  
Justin Pehoski  
   
DESIGN  
Mary-Lynne Bohn, Accent Design, Inc.  
   
WEB DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE  
Joe Higgins  |  Silver Oak Design  
   

Table of Contents, Fall 2019

BY LANCE STRATE 

Josh Kahen / Unsplash / ModifiedJosh Kahen / Unsplash / ModifiedThis article is a slightly revised version of a keynote address delivered during the 20th Annual Media Ecology Association Convention hosted by the University of Toronto on June 27-30, 2019. An expanded version will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology in 2020.

BY TOM COOPER 

CooperCooperTom Cooper responds to Lance Strate's keynote address delivered during the 20th Annual Media Ecology Association Convention, 2019.

BY BARRY BRUMMETT 

BrummettBrummettBarry Brummett argues that our experience of both events and unfocused passages are socially constructed and organized—that dimensions of boundedness and power are foundational for those constructions—and that the ways we organize and construct events and the unstructured passages have a great deal to do with human communication. He concludes that the history of rhetorical theory shows a marked preference for understanding rhetoric as event, which should change as technology and culture change.

BY AARON R. BOYSON (GUEST EDITOR)

MEMMEMMedia addiction is a growing worry among parents, practitioners, and even children. Yet there is no such thing as media addiction according to the American Medical Association. Nonetheless, research is gaining on the issue, as evidenced in this special section on media addiction, guest edited by Aaron R. Boyson.

BY DINA INMAN RAMGOLAM 

RamgolamRamgolamOn average we look at our phones 52 times a day and spend an average of 3 hours, 10 minutes on our mobile devices. Is this media addiction, and is our fast-paced culture to blame? This essay argues that in questioning our media use, we should examine our fundamental experience of time. 

BY MICHAEL G. BLIGHT 

AddictionAddictionFans have unprecedented access to their favorite actors as a direct result of Twitter and can interact with like-minded individuals to talk about live events unfolding within their favorite shows. Is consumption of real-time content while flaunting fandom on Twitter the new norm? And what are the effects when these behaviors become compulsive?

BY KRISTEN HARRISON

HarrisonHarrisonThis commentary introduces the possibility that media devices supply gratifications to children not previously specified in media research. Within built environments normed for adults, sustained media use might help children maintain sensory regulation, while taking away screens without supplying alternative means of sensory regulation could make family media conflict worse.

BY AARON R. BOYSON 

BoysonBoysonUniversity students enrolled in a media class submitted letters they would write to a young child with advice about using media technology. Their instructor, Dr. Boyson, took sentences from those letters and rearranged them into a new composition. The new letter represents a class-wide remorse that relationships with technology had not met expectations. 

BY DAKOTA PARK-OZEE 

BollywoodBollywoodThis case study examines the film PM Narendra Modi, a Bollywood-produced biopic of the sitting prime minister of India slated to premiere on April 5, 2019 just days before the six-week voting period began. Is this entertainment or propaganda that could possibly alter elections? Do governments have the duty to protect their citizens from potential misinformation during elections or is it the duty of citizens to judge fact and fiction for themselves? Is it ethical—in the name of electoral fairness—to curb Bollywood’s political and artistic speech? 

BY DAKOTA PARK-OZEE AND SCOTT R. STROUD 

Fake NewsFake NewsThis case study examines the 2019 Indo-Pakistani conflict and how both national governments, news media in both countries, and social media accounts operated by citizens and trolls alike engaged in widespread misinformation. And yet this fake news may arguably be advantageous in preventing the two nations from going to all-out war. Creating such information bubbles” means that “both sides can declare victory to their people and go home.” And so the question becomes: is it ever ethically acceptable to spread misinformation?

Upcoming and past meetings, events, lectures, resources, and seminars related to media ethics are shared here. The announcements that follow are based on information supplied by the organizations involved or other sponsors. If you wish to have announcements of future meetings published in Media Ethics, please contact the editor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BY CAT BIXLER

PropagandaPropagandaA review of This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev, PublicAffairs, New York, 2019, ISBN 9781541762114 (hardcover) 236 pp.

 

It is easy for inhabitants of this digital age to say that the world has no hold on truth. We look to politics and often see lies without repercussions, at least not real ones. We look at the abundance of “fake news” and even the use of the term itself—which is so varied in context and intention that it is effectively stripped of real meaning—and it is clear that in many cases, the truth does not matter.

Misinformation and disinformation are real. This is not a difficult conclusion to reach, nor support, given the multitude of evidence supporting it. It does, however, take significant thought and research to delve into this phenomenon below its surface, to consider it as a whole rather than characterize it by its most visible traits.

Enter Peter Pomerantsev with his 2019 (Aug. 6) book This Is Not Propaganda. Pomerantsev explores the state of information in a digital age, analyzing different forms that disinformation and misinformation can take as well as their impact. Pomerantsev’s lens is not limited to the surface: While the information issues that dominate the headlines—Donald Trump’s tweets, Russian interference abroad, “fake news” in media and politics—are discussed, Pomerantsev digs far deeper into the problem to uncover the typically hidden ways falsehoods shape modern lives.

In its first five chapters, This Is Not Propaganda explores the use of information to control, manipulate, define, or fight individuals and groups. Its sixth and final chapter considers potential realities of the future given the tendencies of information in a tech-driven world, as discussed in previous chapters.

Throughout the book, Pomerantsev supplements his research and interviews about the modern day with anecdotal evidence from his family’s history; Pomerantsev’s Russian parents experienced KGB information control firsthand before they moved to the United Kingdom. The sections relating to his family history are in italics, separate from the other information within the chapters. These sections effectively serve three purposes: add color to the book, demonstrate the contrast between modern information manipulation and that used prior to modern technology, and highlight the concepts and motivations that have remained the same throughout those changes. Readers are not fed these connections either: they are for the most part left to determine the connections between the present and the past on their own.

Pomerantsev’s depth is partly owed to his wide range of sources. His global outlook on information is a welcome change from works that exclusively consider Western culture (more specifically the United States, occasionally including the United Kingdom). As outlined in his preface, his source materials range from the Philippines to Latin America to China. Different parts of the information economy are considered, rather than just those parts experienced by people in more developed countries. This is essential to painting an accurate picture of the problem.

Many people view modern information issues as black and white, with information manipulation being seen as inherently and exclusively corrupt and evil. Pomerantsev shatters this view in his astonishingly three-dimensional analysis of these issues. While he discusses the victims of misinformation and disinformation, as well as those who fight against it, Pomerantsev also interviews people involved in its production. His portraits of these individuals capture them not as heartless villains, but as people with complex motivations and ideas. Insight into these motivations not only provides readers a better comprehension of the problem and how to counter it, but also understanding of gray areas and points of controversy related to information in the modern age.

What is the morality of information manipulation when it is used in support of a righteous cause? How should information attacks against members of the media or protest groups be handled, and are there people who are “fair game” for this type of attack? To what extent is disinformation an exercise in freedom? These ethical questions are among those considered by Pomerantsev throughout his book, all supplemented with specific scenarios.

The identities of those impacted by misinformation/disinformation are not blurred or ignored, but are considered and included, rendering it difficult for readers to separate them from the rest of the equation. Pomerantsev’s person-based approach is effective not just in increasing audience interest but also in forcing them to see beyond the statistics, which are easy to become blind to.

This is Not Propaganda succeeds at capturing audience attention and maintaining it, being an enjoyable read whilst being genuinely insightful and useful. Everyone is impacted by information manipulation, whether they are actively aware of it or not. Pomerantsev develops this idea expertly and manages to answer the question tucked in the back of many readers’ heads: “Why should I care?”

 

  • Cat Bixler studies journalism at Emerson College.

BY CAT BIXLER

PropagandaPropagandaA review of This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev.

FALL 2019 REMOVE BEFORE PUBLICATION

Media Ethics is grateful to its sponsors identified below, who are neither responsible for nor in control of our content.

The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, has a longstanding commitment to nurturing principled newsgathering and storytelling, guided by a strong dedication to public illumination and civic betterment. Its two-year, immersive master of journalism curriculum includes instruction in professional ethics led by professor and former dean Tom Goldstein and current dean and journalism professor Edward Wasserman, formerly Knight chair in journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University.

The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is a research center located within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Its primary mission is to conduct research on, and promote understanding of, legal and ethical issues affecting the mass media. The Silha Center also sponsors an annual lecture series; hosts forums, conferences and symposia; produces the Silha Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter, and other publications; and provides information about media law and ethics to the public. Support is provided for faculty research, and for Silha Fellows working on advanced degrees.

The Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign The Institute offers a Ph.D. in communications within the traditions of social scientific research, historic-cultural interpretation, linguistics, and political economy. Its B.S. degree in Media Studies is rooted in the liberal arts. The Institute develops intellectually productive approaches to cultural, political, ethical and social challenges of the global communications economy. Public service and social responsibility are emphasized in the curriculum and research projects. Work in ethics is required of undergraduates and doctoral dissertations in communication ethics are an option.

  • Contact: Clifford Christians, Director, Institute of Communications Research, College of Communications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 810 S. Wright St., Suite 228, Urbana, IL 61801; Telephone: 217.333.1549; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Website: Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Facultad de Comunicación, Universidad de Navarra/The School of Public Communication, University of Navarra, offered the first Spanish academic degree in journalism starting in 1958. Since that time, it has offered both graduate and undergraduate degrees in three different sequences: Advertising, Radio, Film and Television, and Journalism. Each sequence includes specific courses involving media ethics.

  • Contact: José J. Sánchez-Aranda, Facultad de Comunicación, Universidad de Navarra, Pamploma, España; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Website: The School of Public Communication, University of Navarra

Emerson College Emerson College is the nation's only four-year college devoted exclusively to the study of communication and performing arts. Emerson's School of the Arts and School of Communication both sponsor Media Ethics magazine on behalf of Emerson College and emphasize ethics in special programs, in their curricula, and in faculty research and publications.

  • Contact: Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116; Telephone: 617.824.8500. 
  • Website: Emerson College

Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication is a research center at The Pennsylvania State University College of Communications dedicated to the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication. The Center has awarded over $320,000 to scholars and professionals to support research about ethics and responsibility in public communication.

Contact: Director, Denise Sevick Bortree, The Arthur W. Page Center, 201 Carnegie Building, University Park, PA 16802; E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Telephone: 814.863.6307.

Kegley Institute of Ethics The Kegley Institute of Ethics is committed to stimulating ethical thought and reflection on the California State University, Bakersfield campus and in our greater community. We host major lectures, panels and workshops, and we sponsor scholarships and research for faculty and students.

  • Contact: Michael D. Burroughs, Ph.D., Director, Kegley Institute of Ethics, 26 BDC, 9001 Stockdale Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93311; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Telephone: 661-654-3578
  • Website: Kegley Institute of Ethics

Endicott College School of Communications Endicott College strives to instill in students an understanding of and an appreciation for professional and liberal studies through coursework andnapplied learning.  The College has a vision for the total development of the individual within a community that fosters an appreciation of diversity, international awareness, community service, and moral and ethical values. For further information see Web Site.

Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies, Duquesne University Duquesne University's Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies teaches and conducts research and development in the broad domain of communication studies, including integrated marketing communication, public relations and advertising, corporate communication, intercultural communication, communication ethics, rhetoric, and persuasion in the marketplace. Our departmental foundations are communication ethics, a humanities approach to the discipline, a research and development culture, and ongoing practical engagement with the marketplace.

  • Contact: Janie Harden Fritz (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Alyssa Groom (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.); Telephone: 412.396.6446. Mailing address: Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282.
  • Website: Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies, Duquesne University  

SPECIAL THANKS

In addition to the intellectual contributions of our authors, and the financial contributions of our sponsors, Media Ethics would like to express its particular gratitude to:

Bob Gardner, film-maker, scholar, and benefactor, passed away in 2014.  But his support of Media Ethics continues, since his latest gift was dedicated to the five-year period 2012-2017, an act of generosity we truly appreciate.

Our hosts at the Institute of Communications Research of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, the past publishers of the magazine, are to be thanked. The current publisher of Media Ethics, the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin and its Center for Media Engagement, are also to be thanked for their gracious support of the magazine’s present and future mission.

These “special thanks” shouldn't be thought of as detracting from our appreciation for The Grand Masonic Lodge of Massachusetts, particularly Grand Secretary Arthur Johnson, Grand Master Roger Pageau, and Assistant Grand Treasurer Craig MacPherson for providing the space and other facilities that enable the Media Ethics office to function.

We also want to give thanks and recognition for the significant support of the following individuals and groups: Randy Bytwerk, Mark Fackler, the Dept. of Communications at Calvin College, Jochen Zeitz, and anonymous individuals. The voluntary donations of each of these friends is extremely important to us.

Call for Manuscripts

Media Ethics welcomes submissions for publication in its forthcoming issues. Published online twice a year, Media Ethics is an independent, open-access, scholarly forum for the sharing of research and views on current topics in media ethics. Media Ethics takes a purposely broad and pluralistic view of media ethics, encompassing topics in journalism ethics, advertising ethics, digital ethics, computer ethics, organizational communication ethics, entertainment ethics, film ethics, as well as communication ethics in general. We also welcome submissions that explore ethical issues in an international context, or from the vantage point of other disciplines such as philosophy or technology studies. Media Ethics is interested in encouraging and sharing scholarly work on any important normative topic in communication or media. 

Media Ethics is a scholarly publication that was established in 1987 by Cliff Christians, Tom Cooper, Manny Paraschos, and Mike Kittross. It probes ethical issues in media, journalism, and communication ethics. It features creative and innovative pieces that showcase current scholarship or that analyze recent events, or shorter pieces that allow scholars to promptly voice their opinions on important topics in the current media environment. Media Ethics welcomes the submission of long and concise articles, book reviews, teaching commentaries, and case studies for possible publication. Media Ethics is published by the Moody College of Communication and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin under the editorship of Dr. Scott R. Stroud.

Scholars are encouraged to submit long articles (up to 10,000 words) or short commentary pieces (750+ words) for consideration. All submitted manuscripts are subject to editing at the discretion of the editor, and publication is not guaranteed. Because of our editorial policies of independence and inclusion, neither the sponsors nor the editor shall be held responsible for any views expressed in Media Ethics by authors or others. All manuscripts, book reviews, case studies, and teaching pieces should be submitted via email to:

Dr. Scott R. Stroud, Media Ethics Editor

Department of Communication Studies

University of Texas at Austin

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Submissions will be considered at any time.

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