Friday, September 26, 2014

A big thank you from the CIME blog!

We would like to give a big thank you to everyone who participated in the fourth annual International Media Ethics Day!

This year the IMED was bigger than ever, with over a hundred workshops organized in over fifty countries! Here at the blog we blogged intensively on media ethics issues ranging from plagiarism to the media's reporting on Ebola. Look for new posts coming up on more media ethics issues!

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the IMED, and let us know what you think about media ethics!

- The CIME bloggers

Friday, September 19, 2014

US/ISIS - Propaganda War

Department of State Video.
Photo credit: CNN
In early September the US Department of State issued this video as a counter attack in the propaganda war between Isis and the United States. The video, which is graphic to say the least, was made as a sarcastic recruitment advertisement. Images of men jumping off of cliffs, severed heads, innocent people being bombed and so on dominate the screen while statements like “travel is cheaper because you will not need a return ticket” flash to the viewer. According to the Daily Mail “The campaign, directed at Muslims in the United States, aims to counter the Islamic State's powerful social media machine which has been used to recruit fighters from across the world.”

To be sure, there are many problems with this video that came from the Diplomatic arm of the United States Government. It is violent, it is cruel, and above all else, it portrays what bureaucrats must believe to be funny. The sarcasm that is employed to convey the anti-Isis message is a dangerous road to travel for anyone, let alone the government (which is not known for its sense of humor). The video banks on the viewer being able to understand American sarcasm.

With the International Media Ethics Day occurring once again, one would have to ask if governmentally produced media should be held to the same standard as all other forms. If this video were produced by Fox News or CNN, there would most likely be a backlash. The fact that the State Department were the ones to release the propaganda piece is baffling. If diplomacy is the aim, one would imagine making a mockery of and disrespecting the group of people who "pose a multi-faceted threat to the United States" is surely not the way to go about any peaceful resolution of the ISIS conflict in Syria or Iraq.

- Carol Davey

Daily Mail

Ray Rice, the Ravens, the NFL, and the video

Ray Rice, previously a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was dropped from the team and suspended indefinitely from the National Football League (NFL) after a second video released by TMZ showed him punching Janay Rice, his then-fiance (now wife), unconscious in an elevator.

Ray Rice in his Baltimore Ravens Jersey
Photo credit: ohlays
Rice was arrested and originally charged with third-degree aggravated assault for the incident, which occurred last February, but the charges were later dropped in favor of court-supervised counseling. He was suspended from only two games from the upcoming football season.

Despite the first video shown of the incident, which displayed Rice “dragging the unconscious woman out of an elevator and dropping her face-first on the ground,” the Ravens supported their teammate and Rice received only minor punishments. It took a second video, actually showing the assault within the elevator, to lose that support and to earn Rice his suspension from the League.

The second video has been credited with drawing increased outrage over the NFL’s handling of domestic violence incidents, and resulted in a change to the NFL’s domestic violence policy. However, people have also argued that the constant playing and re-playing of the clip without consent has also “re-victimized” Janay Rice. Her statement, published on instagram, is as follows:
I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But you have to accept the fact that reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media and unwanted [opinions] from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow and show the world what real love is! Ravens nation we love you!
Dave Zirin, who writes about sports for The Nation, points out that in all the questions about the incident, “No one cares that [Janay Rice] is now going to have to relive this incident over and over again...Just as we would protect the name of an alleged rape victim, just as we would not show a video of Ray Rice committing a sexual assault, we should not be showing this video like it’s another episode of Rich People Behaving Badly.”

Roger Goodell. Photo credit: Lammatlarge
On the other hand, however, the public nature of the video has put pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to actually address the rampant issues of domestic abuse within the NFL. While claiming he had not seen the second video until it became public (a claim Zirin among others finds unlikely), Goodell said he "didn't get it right" on Rice's two game suspension. The new policy that he has put forward (after the public outcry over the original punishment), is “a six-game suspension without pay for the first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense.” This penalty will apply to “all NFL personnel, including executives and owners, not just players.” Additionally, three women who have professional backgrounds in the fields of sexual assault and domestic abuse have been hired to assist forming better policies.

Zirin has pointed out that the footage of the assault is “the only thing that’s making people believe Janay Rice,” and that “the NFL has a history of horrific moments of violence against women.” He argues bitterly that what differentiates Rice’s case from, for instance, Ray McDonald, was that “it was caught on videotape, and it is a public relations crisis for the National Football League.”

Should the media be showing the video of the assault, even against the wishes and without the consent of the victim? Does Janay Rice have the right to be protected from public comment and the media and to move forward without the constant reminder of the footage? Or should the video be shown in order to change the way an entity like the NFL, a league with a history of domestic violence, deals with such assaults in the future?

- Kate Davidson

Democracy Now
The Nation
CBS Sports
SB Nation

L’éthique des médias en Côte d’Ivoire : une affaire d’âge, d’argent et de formation

Cela fait maintenant 4 ans que je consacre une partie de mon temps et des énergies à parler d’éthique dans les médias en Côte d’Ivoire. Il est peut-être trop tôt pour tirer les conclusions de mes échanges et observations avec les journalistes, les membres des instances de régulation et d’autorégulation dans les médias.

Mais le constat que je fais est que les questions éthiques semblent être mieux perçues comme fondamentales par des anciens journalistes, que j’appelle, journalistes de la vielle garde. Il s’agit de journalistes qui ont exercé il y a environ 20 ans. Certains sont à la retraite. D’autres sont encore en activité mais dans d’autres domaines de la communication. Ces journalistes de la vieille garde partagent en commun, l’expérience des formations dans des écoles de journalistes à l’extérieur du pays. Ils reconnaissent tous que l’un des points clés de la profession de journaliste est la connaissance et le respect du code d’éthique et de déontologie.

En dehors de ces journalistes de la vieille garde, j’ai beaucoup côtoyé et je continue encore de fréquenter des journalistes que j’appelle, journalistes de la jeune garde. Il s’agit de journalistes ayant moins de 10 ans d’expériences. Ils ont généralement en commun, le fait de n’avoir pas suivi de formations classiques en journalisme dans une école de journalisme. Ils sont entrés en journalisme avec un diplôme supérieur de l’enseignement général, en sociologie, droit, économie ou lettre par exemple. Ils ont donc appris le métier de journaliste sur le tas. Ils ont entendu parler d’éthique par les chefs de service. C’est parmi ces jeunes journalistes qu’on note le plus de professionnels sanctionnés par les instances de régulation pour cause de non-respect du code d’éthique et de déontologie du journaliste.

Ce qui me frappe également au niveau de ces jeunes journalistes, c’est que certains parmi eux ne perçoivent pas de salaires de leurs journaux. D’autres attendent mêmes des arriérés de près de 4 à 6 mois de salaires. Mais comment font-ils alors pour vivre, serait-on tenté, tout naturellement, de demander. Eh bien, ils vivent aux grâces aux organisateurs de manifestations ou sources d’informations. Car cela est devenu une coutume en Côte d’Ivoire, qui consiste, pour chaque organisateur de manifestation publique qui invite les journalistes, de prévoir leurs frais de transport ou perdiem. On devine donc aisément le niveau de liberté de ces journalistes et leur degré d’indépendance par rapport aux sources d’informations qui leurs payent en quelque sorte une partie du salaire.

La question éthique dans les médias en Côte d’Ivoire, est certes une question de formation, mais aussi de salaires décents et réguliers.

- Dr Célestin Gnonzion 

Ransoming journalists home

Photo credit: Reporters Without Borders
Steve Coll, currently the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and a staff writer at the New Yorker, wrote an article last month about his own experiences “When Journalists Go Missing.” He starts off by explaining that back in 2003 when he worked for the Washington Post, his bosses had told “those of us in charge of the newsroom to spend whatever was necessary to cover the war thoroughly and to keep our correspondents safe...They also decided to prepare for the possibility that one of our reporters might be kidnapped.”

In light of this decision, Coll became part of an “operation cell” at the Post designed to respond in the event of a kidnapping/ransom situation. A former CIA operations officer was hired to facilitate this process. He explained that in the event of a kidnapping, the first question would be about the “opening bid.” He told Coll and the others that “There are consultants out there - you can work with them if you want - that will tell you, ‘Open with twenty per cent of the market price.’ That’s a way to go. But I don’t do that. I open at about eighty per cent.” Why 80%? “Twenty per cent - that’s where you get your mutilations.”

Should ransoms be paid for journalists? Different countries have different policies. According to Coll, the United States and Britain don’t endorse payments, while certain other countries in Europe including Germany and France have paid millions. The question is, “How to judge the costs and benefits of Europe’s policy? Its citizens come home. The payments are affordable. But the policy empowers groups that may stage more attacks and whose defeat by military and other means will cost a lot more than a hundred and twenty-five million dollars.”

While training and supplies might help journalists stay safer in the field, for many learning happens in the moment. Coll argues that “most of the great correspondents who have worked in hard places and walked away again and again have idiosyncratic methods for making judgments about which road to travel and which to avoid. And only the arrogant among them will say that they are not very lucky.” So how should media organizations and governments respond when something does happen? What would you do?

- Kate Davidson

The New Yorker

The politics behind "Frozen"

Elsa and Anna. Photo credit: Chicago Now
Is Frozen, a wildly popular animated childrens movie released last year by Disney, trying to subtly (or not so subtly) brainwash children with homosexual propaganda? Is it trying to tell a story of mental illness and its effects on youth? Is it a feminist success, or a feminist failure? Or is it just a plain children’s movie with no underlying political currents?

Frozen, which premiered in November, 2013, is the highest grossing animated film ever. It tells the story of two royal sisters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa has a magical ability to control ice and snow, but after being hailed as a monster she flees her kingdom after accidentally condemning it to a harsh and unending winter. Anna, with the help of a young man named Kristoff and some other minor characters, sets of to rescue her sister and save the kingdom. The musical number “Let it Go,” which won and/or was nominated for a number of awards, depicts Elsa finally gaining confidence in herself and her magical powers - or, depending on your interpretation, coming out as an LGBT youth, overcoming “society’s stigma around mental illness,” becoming an empowered woman, or making a sudden transformation into a sexier, more feminine lady.

Photo credit: Deviant Art
So does Frozen have underlying political and social agendas? Or are these interpretations simply imagined by outraged or enthusiastic viewers? Jennifer Lee, one of the directors the film, says “We know what we made...but at the same time I feel like once we hand the film over it belongs to the world so I don’t like to say anything, and let the fans talk. I think it’s up to them.”

Do filmmakers, particularly for kids movies, have a responsibility to consider how the film will be taken, or do they lose their control when they release the movie? And how do sales impact their decisions over plot points, characters, and the quest for happy (or socially acceptable) endings?

- Kate Davidson

The Daily Beast
The Washington Post
The Big Issue

Cyber-safety and Cyber-ethics for Teens and Tweens

Photo credit: Glogster
Back in 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new study on how much time children and adolescents in the U.S. were spending on electronic devices. According to the New York Times, they found that “those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.”

7 ½ + 1 ½ + ½ = 9 ½ hours on devices like smart phones, televisions, computers, and others every day.

With so much time being spent online, are kids getting the necessary information about cyber-safety and cyber-ethics? Many educators don’t think so.

Photo credit: Media Munchies

But learning about safety and ethics online is essential today, where issues range from plagiarism and password protection to online privacy and cyber-bullying. Some organizations and websites have resources for educators to teach about cyber-safety and cyber-ethics, but often children are more competent online than their instructors. How can we ensure that young people learn good online behavior, especially considering the constant evolution of technology? How can educators work with students who have already outstripped them?

- Kate Davidson

New York Times