Application: Mass Communication Critique

Has a provocative media clip showing human suffering caused you to reflect upon your ethical beliefs or to question the beliefs of others? In mass media, gatekeepers known as advertisers, journalists, news stations, media conglomerates, and their associated editorial staff weigh their own ethical beliefs and concerns to determine what is seen. In this Application, you will examine your own ethical beliefs as you analyze how media organizations decide upon the message.

To prepare for this Application:

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  • Review Chapters 16–18 in the Course Text, The Dynamics of Mass Communication: Media in Transition, and the video “Principles of Risk Communication.”
  • Review the articles “From the Editor: Questions of Ethics—for Bee and You,”  “Opinion: From the Editor: The Question Is Ethics, and Readers Respond,” and “Impact of the Global Media Revolution.”
  • Read the two case studies in the “Case Studies for Media Ethics” document in this week’s Learning Resources and choose one to focus on for this activity.
  • Identify the ethical implications posed in your chosen case study.
  • Consider the social implications of the media portrayal discussed in the case study.
  • Reflect on how your personal beliefs influence your ethical view of this case study.

The assignment:

  • Write a 1- to 2-page critique of your chosen case study that answers the following questions:
    • What are the ethical implications of the case studies?
    • How did your personal beliefs affect your critique?
    • What are the professional, community-based, and environmental effects of the media portrayal presented in the case study?
    • Refer to 2 specific examples from your course reading and record in your assignment information about each source, including author, year, page number, and publication title.
      • Course Text: The Dynamics of Mass Communication: Media in Transition
        • Chapter 16, “Formal Controls: Laws, Rules, Regulations”This chapter discusses laws, rules, and regulations as they relate to mass media.
        • Chapter 17, “Ethics and Other Informal Controls”This chapter discusses various informal controls on media and their importance to mass media.
        • Chapter 18, “Social Effects of Mass Communication”This chapter examines the effects of media on society. It analyzes how media influences an individual’s attitude, knowledge, perceptions, and actions.
      • Documents
        • Case Studies for Media Ethics (Word document)Review both case studies and choose one to focus on for this week’s Application.
      • Articles
        • Sill, M. (2009, January 11). Questions of ethics—for Bee and you. The Sacramento Bee, p. E1.From the editor: Questions of ethics—for Bee and you.  Sacramento Bee, by Sill, M.   Copyright 2009 by McClatchy Company.  Reprinted by permission of the McClatchy Company via the Copyright Clearance Center.”In this editorial, Sill poses hypothetical cases involving journalistic ethics.
        • Sill, M. (2009, February 8). The question is ethics, and readers respond. The Sacramento Bee,p. E1.Opinion: From the editor: The question is ethics, and readers respond. Sacramento Bee, by Sill, M.   Copyright 2009 by McClatchy Company.  Reprinted by permission of the McClatchy Company via the Copyright Clearance Center.”In this follow-up editorial, Sill recounts some of the responses of staff members and readers.
      • Laureate Education (Producer). Principles of Risk Communication [Video file]. Retrieved from  Dr. Vicki Freimuth was the Director of Communication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1996– 2003. In this video program, she describes the mass communication challenges faced by her department during the period of the anthrax crisis in the United States. She details some of the systems put in place to address those challenges and stresses the importance of communicating accurate and timely information to the public during a crisis situation.
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