Teaching Notes

You must become the flame on the candle. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And the Oscar Goes to. . .

By noon, Tuesday, Sept. 22, please do the following:

1) Visit the class projects by groups from previous semesters

2) Decide which one you'd award a Socrates -- our version of the Oscar -- for "Best Video on an Ethics Case"

3) Explain why, being sure to consider (a) the organization of the presentation; (b)the appropriateness of the decision-making model applied to the case; (c) the clarity and completeness with which the model was applied to the case; and(d) the artistic merit of the overall presentation.

27 comments:

Lindsey Claro said...

I was overwhelming impressed by the videos submitted by previous students. For the most part, they were all very interesting and I can see how much time and effort was put forth, however, I have come to my very difficult decision. I award the Socrates for Best Video on an Ethics Case to... "The Engineering of Public Opinion."

This video stood out to me more than any other one. The video was extremely well organized and explained the case thoroughly, without sparing any details. These students explained in great detail how they arrived at their decision using the Bok Model and the Public Relations Code of Ethics. Although the video was very thorough and a bit on the long side, I still found it to be very interesting.

Something that struck my attention significantly was what a good pace the students held throughout the video. I noticed in some of the others that the students seemed rushed and reading their scripts very quickly, which made for difficult comprehension. I also though the graphics, photos and music were excellent and very appropriate.

Adrienne W said...

I was impressed by all of the videos because each one looked like it took a lot of effort to complete. I feel like they all did a good job of looking at the cases and examining them ethically.
One that really sticks out however is the one on News-mercials. I think that one stands out because the speaking was very uniform and it wasn't dull. It could hold my attention.
I also like the Deception case because I felt that the images were more exciting in that particular film than in some of the others.

Sam Speer said...

Overall, I was impressed by the submitted videos from former students. They were all well done for the most part but one video in particular gave me a lasting impression. The video I choose to award my Socrates is the Smoking video from the fall of 2008.

This video resonated more then the others, because it took a very controversial topic, Smoking, and clearly stated each sides argument. They choose not to be biased at all, and used Aristotle's Golden Mean in overcoming the issue. One argument was that any modern movie involving smoking should automatically have an R rating and the counter argument is that it violates freedom of the speech. I felt that the best of both worlds approach worked very well with the conclusion that a Public service announcement will work well. They definitely used their research, and they gave plenty of examples, which were justified. The video was well organized, and also presented the material in a clear manner. In addition, the video had many artistic elements within it.

Patrick Mattei said...

I would have to say that the best presentation was the smoking in movies one. I feel that it had some of the best voice-over work and accompanying pictures/explanations. It also fleshed out the process that went into making the video and decision better than most of the others, which I think will help our class when we start to work on our projects.

The people behind this video really fleshed out the case well- stating opinions of both sides and suggesting ways that compromise could happen between two extremes, something that I thought was nice after some of the other videos just defended one way of thinking about their particular subject.

Jaime Prisco said...

The video that i believe deserves the Socrates was Deception. I found the story interesting from the moment it started and thought that the music and visuals were very appropriate. I think that the students really evaluated each and every aspect of the case and really put a lot of work into deciding their side. It made me think of how i would deal with a situation like that and i think that's very important.It also presented all the information needed without being biased. This is a hard case to remain objective because it showed the Jim West publicly condemned homosexually but practiced consensual sex with men. However, i think that the students did a real good job of presenting the information in a fair way. I also enjoyed the quotes used in the video because they were relevant and really added to the stories interest.
I also enjoyed the video Rwanda. The students evaluated points that didnt even come to my mind,which i found intriguing.

Nick Miggs said...

After watching all of the videos of the previous class projects, there was one that stuck with me the most due to the sheer moral questions it raised about photojournalism. Not only did this entry raise some of the toughest questions about photojournalism it was also one of the most successful videos that has ever been done in your class. The video describing the unique but useful photojournalism by Kevin Carter who caught on film people on the verge of death. It was well written and well produced. It seemed that no matter how much work each person did in the group they all invested some emotion in the project. The tough material that it covered is one of the true dilemmas with photojournalism, do you take the picture knowing it may help millions or do you personally save the subject. It was enthralling and warranted the best grad possible otherwise known as the SOCRATES

Kellie Nosh said...

I was definitely amazed by the effort that students put into making all of these interesting videos. Some kept my attention more than others, but I felt like they all were pretty good videos. When it comes to the Socrates award, I give it to the case on Scholastic. I thought this group was very creative in the way they designed their video, and that it was also nicely organized. The pictures and images really helped hammer on home the points they were trying to make. I also felt that it was very well put together for the model that they chose, and that it also related very appropriately to the case at hand.

AndreaV said...

All the videos were well done but
the video I would choose would be the For Personal Reasons one. I think that it has become more necessary for journalists to find a different angle to a story and one that will catch the readers attention and I think that it is going to become a bigger issue still. I thought they thoroughly covered the issue in the video and they stated their thoughts in a manner that was well thought out an organized.

Vince said...

The film that I would choose to award a Socrates is the film entitled "Smoking". I think the video highlighted a growing concern and a noble cause. This is a subject that I would have chosen personaly because I agree with the message, thats why Im glad someone else related. The video was also very well put together. It was consice, to the point and entertaining. I liked that more than just one person spoke on the video to keep it from sounding repetative or boring. All of the animations were well placed and well timed, all together a great film.

Michelle V said...

I choose the one about News-mmercials to give the award to. The structure was easy to follow and they were able to convey the message about journalism with benefits and the ethical issues that go with it. These stories were helpful to the public but were lined with commercials for certain products, does the benefit of the information out weigh the ethical issues of trying to sell certain products? It stood out due to its content dealing with the fact that sometimes journalism can go beyond the fact and the benefits other companies can get through it. It shows journalism in a different light other than if they tell the truth or not, that there are other issues involved.

Colin V. said...

overall i found all the projects very interesting, but the Socrates definitely goes to the project on Deception.

This project was a very clear winner in my mind, compared to the others it was leaps and bounds ahead in almost every way.

i found it organized very well. its original presentation of the issue at hand, to selecting a great decision model that left me feeling like all had been examined in the best way possible. Their use of music throughout the presentation was really spot on. it built suspense where necessary and helped keep me engaged for the whole of the video. The speakers themselves were also very relaxed, clear, and very professional in their reading.
the pictures used in the film were also appropriate and helped the along the mood being portrayed by the topic.

i greatly enjoyed watching this, and i believe they made an accurate ethical assessment of the situation at hand.

GrobM said...

I have to give Political TMI the Socrates award.
I like the topic, it is something that is getting worse and worse every year in our country. Example, Obama is on letterman tonight pushing healthcare? Whats up with that? Since when did letterman become a reliable news source?
I liked the layout and narration of the movie. Although they could have lost the closing credits song!

They used Louis W. Hodges circle of intimacy to determine what should and should not be discussed by the media.

Overall, This video was good and explained where the media should draw "the line" on politicians personal lives.

nekaiya trotman said...

I would have to give the Socrates award to For Personal Reasons.
I think that overall the video was very well organized, the discussion was interesting and the students spoke very clearly.
The video explained the issue at hand, gave background information so that people can understand the case and it was very clear and concise with its discussion about the issue and their conclusion.
The video took me through the case and kept me interested without being confused. I was able to understand because they explained the difference between the want to know, need to know, and right to know along with the laws of privacy and also touched upon the journalist code of ethics.
The animation was entertaining and the students were very easy to understand.

mika said...

I watched the works that previous students made and felt kind of anxiety whether I can make such an impressive video.
Every videos were really well composed I felt, but especially I liked "Smoking in movies."

My level of English communication is like a kids, but even I could easily understood because there had a lot of pictures, and clear composition.
It shows the problem and the point of issue from ethical sides and commercial sides.
and the topic is really appropriate for modern society I felt.
That's why I chose this video.

Brian Coleman said...

After watching all the movies, I first must say that these movies are going to take a lot of work to put together. They were all great, and defiantly address important issue's.
However, I'd have to say that the one that I would award an Oscar to, is the one " The Engineering of Public Opinion". I felt that this was the most deserving because of the way it was put together, and the amazing amount of details and ideas that were brought up. It was backed by good, important sources that were completely relevant to the message of the video.

Allison Sofer Says said...

I agree with the general consensus that the videos were very impressive. They were clearly well thought out, and took a lot of time and effort. I am glad we got to see examples of previous exemplary work.

I think the Socrates award should go to the Deception video, because the images were very strong and went well with the point of the video. It was coherent, cohesive, and well organized.

Alyssa said...

The socrates would belongs to Ethics Video2. I think the presentation was impressive and the use of images was spot on. When portaying V tech shooting I think it was vary importantto be tastefull and also keep it interestng. The presentors picked an interesting topic; by looking closely at how NBC went over the Virgina Tech story and the effects it had on the victims and how NBC justified the way they portrayed it.As a person I think is distirbing when any news staton can say I have the "rights" to any tragity I can get first dibs on.

Julie said...

It was difficult to decide which video should get the "Socrates" award since almost all of them helped viewers understand the ethical complexity of a particular issue. The video I ultimately decided was the most thorough and cohesive explored under cover journalism and the genocide in Rwanda. In terms of organziation, the video clearly took viewers through th issue step-by-step. I think the organization of this video would make the details of this case clear to people who hadn't even heard that there was a genocide in Rwanda. In the video, the Potter box was used to break down the ethical issues in this situation. Using this model definitely helped maintain the organization in the film. Perhaps I have a biased view since this is a model that our class has been studying already, but I feel this kind of breakdown helped to pick apart the issue piece-by-piece in a way anyone could understand. Going through this model is a process, but one that allows viewers of the video to explore different aspects of the case study. This video may not have been the most flashy when it came to artisitc direction, but I still feel it was well made. The incorporation of film clips from "Hotel Rwanda" added more engaging visual interest. Also, the photos from the warzone used towards the beginning were impactful and grabbed the viewer's attention right away. They let you know that the video makers were going to attempt to explain something serious in the simplest way possible, which I feel they did sucessfully.

Julie said...

It was difficult to decide which video should get the "Socrates" award since almost all of them helped viewers understand the ethical complexity of a particular issue. The video I ultimately decided was the most thorough and cohesive explored under cover journalism and the genocide in Rwanda. In terms of organziation, the video clearly took viewers through th issue step-by-step. I think the organization of this video would make the details of this case clear to people who hadn't even heard that there was a genocide in Rwanda. In the video, the Potter box was used to break down the ethical issues in this situation. Using this model definitely helped maintain the organization in the film. Perhaps I have a biased view since this is a model that our class has been studying already, but I feel this kind of breakdown helped to pick apart the issue piece-by-piece in a way anyone could understand. Going through this model is a process, but one that allows viewers of the video to explore different aspects of the case study. This video may not have been the most flashy when it came to artisitc direction, but I still feel it was well made. The incorporation of film clips from "Hotel Rwanda" added more engaging visual interest. Also, the photos from the warzone used towards the beginning were impactful and grabbed the viewer's attention right away. They let you know that the video makers were going to attempt to explain something serious in the simplest way possible, which I feel they did sucessfully.

JulieMansmann said...

It was difficult to decide which video should get the "Socrates" award since almost all of them helped viewers understand the ethical complexity of a particular issue. The video I ultimately decided was the most thorough and cohesive explored under cover journalism and the genocide in Rwanda. In terms of organziation, the video clearly took viewers through th issue step-by-step. I think the organization of this video would make the details of this case clear to people who hadn't even heard that there was a genocide in Rwanda. In the video, the Potter box was used to break down the ethical issues in this situation. Using this model definitely helped maintain the organization in the film. Perhaps I have a biased view since this is a model that our class has been studying already, but I feel this kind of breakdown helped to pick apart the issue piece-by-piece in a way anyone could understand. Going through this model is a process, but one that allows viewers of the video to explore different aspects of the case study. This video may not have been the most flashy when it came to artisitc direction, but I still feel it was well made. The incorporation of film clips from "Hotel Rwanda" added more engaging visual interest. Also, the photos from the warzone used towards the beginning were impactful and grabbed the viewer's attention right away. They let you know that the video makers were going to attempt to explain something serious in the simplest way possible, which I feel they did sucessfully.

Lisa E. said...

And the Socrates goes to...
"Smoking In Movies"

I felt the video was well-organized. The ethical problem was clearly presented. I believe the use of Aristotle's Golden Mean was the best model to decide the ethics of the situation and for exploring each side of the argument, censorship versus protecting the innocent. I like the compromise that was reached in the end to have some kind of warning about the hazards of smoking before films. Artisitically the images used were good although and the voice overs were clear and easy to understand.

Pamela A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela A. said...

I award the Socrates to.... Rwanda.
I think is was one of the best videos of the class. The speaker's voice was clear, precise with a great tone. I loved the fact that they included video clips from the movie instead of just pictures. The pictures that they did have, however, could moved around the page. They also included graphic pictures of children and dead corpses just to give us a glimpse of the atrocities being committed in Rwanda. I liked that they made a Potter Box because I could relate it easier to what we've done in class. I enjoyed the flipping pages; shows they put time into the project. The structure of the piece was excellent. They gave all all sides of the story with cohesive and valid points. Overall, it was educational and enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Watching these videos was very interesting. It was difficult for me to narrow it down to one video. I tried to base my selection for the award on something that I constantly think about because it occurs very often in the real world. So I award the Socrates for Best Video to "Angelina Jolie's Carefully Orchestrated Image." I always feel that the media and celebrities lives are overrated to an extreme. I feel like the media definitely focues too much on celebrity news rather than news about the war or something more important. For instance, just last week there was a story about Obama calling Kanye West a particular name. Meanwhile there are definitely other important things going on in the world right now that involve the United States. A great point that the video made is that some stories only seem to get more attention or publicity if there is a celebrity involved. It's almost as if the celebrity attracts people's attention. The ethical issue that occurs in this video is checkbook journalism. I feel like I learned from this video and it made me realize that my thoughts, about the way certain media chooses their stories, are not alone.

Eve said...

I chose the Rwanda video project for the award. I also noticed several other people gave their award to this particular video. I agree completely. It was very well organized and well planned. This video hit an emotional nerve and used pathos to affect viewers. It used multiple examples and information was taken from several different types of channels. Movies, speeches, statistics, news broadcasts etc. were all used in this video. I believe variation is key when attempting to persuade and inform. One must not bore their demographic with the same type of vehicle that provides information. I truly believe this video was artistic in several ways. It was successful in being informative, emotional, and persuading...job well done to this group.

LindsayArden said...

And the Socrates goes to.....
United 93
I think that the project on United 93 raises the most interesting question about media ethics. Where is the line drawn between telling the truth to the public and exploitation of an extremely serious and sensitive, not to mention recent, tragedy? I personally have not seen United 93 because in don't think I need to see the events of 9-11 in any more gory detail than I did on the news that day. I think the fake news station, "exit 18 news", was very creative and made the video look much more professional than the other glorified powerpoint presentations. (I don't mean to insult the other videos, they were great too) I think these students tackled an important and sensitive topic with objectivity and a varied range of perspectives. Great job!

Kevin Harvey said...

I believe the Socrates should go to Ethics of Newsmercials, it raises many interesting ethical questions about advertisements made to look like newscast and how there needs to be a disclaimer when one airs. It clearly outlines that they should only air when it’s beneficial to most of the public or the only suitable medium for the information provided. To make sure the primary goal is the public interest and safety, and not financial gain. It also explained that in order to be ethical the news station has to make sure the public is clearly aware of who the journalist is and not to blur the line by making a non-journalist look like a journalist. In other words actors should be clearly labeled as actors, experts clearly labeled as experts. It applied the decision-making model in a coherent manner, but went even further by listing ways in which newmercials can be presented according to criteria that would make them ethical outlined above. In the end they ruled WHAS News 11 actions were unethical by applying the newsmercial against the potter box.

Is Media Ethics Education DOA?

It sounds like a joke Jay Leno would tell during his opening monologue on The Tonight Show. Hear about the graduate students at the prestigious journalism school? They got caught cheating on an ethics exam. Ha ha ha. Except that’s actually what happened at Columbia University in late 2006.

Students had been given 48 hours to sign onto a Columbia Web site to take the final exam in a required course called “Critical Issues in Journalism.” They then had 90 minutes to answer two essay questions.

The students were warned to not discuss the questions with each other, but apparently they did. As the headline over a story reporting the scandal put it, “Ivy J-Schoolers Fail Ethics, Ace Irony.”

No one admitted cheating despite pressure from the school’s administrators and pleas from classmates, who feared the scandal would damage the market value of their degrees. Meanwhile, the teacher of the course, New York Times columnist Samuel G. Freedman, refused to comment. But if the disgruntled posts on RateMyProfessors.com are any indication, his students hadn’t exactly been soaking up knowledge. “Maybe he could e-mail his ‘speeches’ to the students instead of making everyone suffer through the most wasted class in j-school. . . ,” one read.

There’s an old cowboy saying that goes, “When your horse dies, get off.” Journalism ethics education is a dead horse. Or else those aren’t vultures circling in the sky.

A Question for Socrates


The question of how ethics is learned, or even if it can be, is as old as Western philosophy. In Plato’s dialog Meno the title character asks, “Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?” Of course, Socrates, being Socrates, resists giving a definite answer. But we can’t. The sad fact is, students had better get an effective ethics education now or they may never.


Last summer I conducted an ethics workshop for some reporters and editors at the Poughkeepsie Journal, a small daily in upstate
New York owned by Gannett Co., Inc. The woman in charge of organizing the workshop had supplied us with several case studies to examine. I remember one dealt with a classic conflict of interest, a copy editor who moonlighted at a local radio station.

But what I remember most is the air of defeat that clung to the staff as we sat on hard plastic chairs in the break room discussing the cases. I could hear in their voices the bitterness and cynicism of employees forced to follow corporate policies they despised. Recently, for example, the paper had started running display ads on the front page and section fronts, a much more grievous ethical lapse, their mumbled asides suggested, than anything the case studies might have to offer.

I don’t want my students to ever wear the gray, defeated expression I saw that day on the faces at the Journal. But given the downward direction in which the media are moving, and fast, how in the world can I prevent it from happening?

Teaching Media Ethics by Telling Stories

A friend of mine who teaches at a big Midwestern university recounts in class the events of her first week as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. She was sent to Duluth to cover Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey on the campaign trail. When they were introduced, Humphrey vigorously shook her hand. “Oh yes, Susan,” he said, “I read your stuff all the time.” He couldn’t have read her stuff, though; she hadn’t written anything yet. “Just a few words,” she explains to her students, “but words that taught this fledging reporter a great lesson about pols and the little lies they tell.”

I usually find occasion during the semester to quote I. F. Stone’s dictum, “Every government is run by liars and thieves, and nothing they say should be believed,” to make the same point. But Susan’s story makes the point better. That’s because it has existential force. Her story vividly captures in a way a secondhand quote can’t the realities of a reporter’s life.

Some might think telling “war stories” is a waste of precious class time. I’ve a colleague who didn’t want to fall into the “trap” of regaling students with stories ad nauseam (“which, let’s face it, is easier than teaching or grading,” he said). So one semester he kept track. When he toted it all up at the end, he was surprised that he’d used less than an hour - out of 45 – talking about his newspaper experiences. And yet, he admitted, it was his stories that students seemed to remember most.

“Stories teach us how to live,” Daniel Taylor said in his essay, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling.” What he meant was that stories preserve our experience for contemplation and evaluation. Although not all stories carry a heavy message, there’s an entire category of stories, so-called “exemplary tales,” that are told to convey a moral.

Our war stories are potentially just such tales. They can provide evidence, in ethicist John Barton’s words, of “how real human beings live through various crises and trials and remain human.” My colleague who kept tabs on his storytelling has described his stories as cautionary. Most, he said, deal with “screwups I learned from.”

But sometimes the storyteller and the audience can’t agree on what exactly the moral of a story is.

When Susan was a cub reporter on the Tribune, she interviewed the Beatles, who were on their second tour of the States. She got into their hotel room by dressing up as a waitress in an ugly, mustard-colored uniform and accompanying an actual room service waiter upstairs. Ringo took one look at her little plastic name tag – it read “Donna Brown” – and snorted, “What kind of name is that?” The waiter nudged her in the side. “Tell them what you real name is,” he urged. She did, as well as her reason for being there. Rather than throw her out, the Beatles politely answered her questions. They even let her phone for a photographer. The next day her story ran on the front page, with a photo of John sitting at a table and looking up at her and laughing as she poured coffee in his cup. She still has a glossy print of that photo somewhere.

Many of Susan’s students think she’s nuts for not having the photo hanging up in her office. They also think she’s nuts for saying she’d never participate in the same kind of stunt today. To her celebrity-struck students, disguising herself as a hotel waitress to get an interview with the Beatles seems soooo cool. They lose all sight of the fact that it wasn’t a story of vital public interest that demanded undercover methods.

Susan intends one lesson when she talks about her hard day’s night, but her students, living in a paparazzi-saturated culture, draw another. “It may be a lost cause,” she remarked to me.

Or maybe not. Negotiations over what the point of a story is can be part of the point of the story. In the process of negotiating, we test different interpretations, try out different themes. This is helpful. This is educational. Lawrence Kohlberg, the Harvard psychologist famous for his research on the stages of moral development, contended that “the teaching of virtue is the asking of questions. . . not the giving of answers.” Stories don’t necessarily have to yield clear moral rules to be of value. It’s enough sometimes if they just give us something to think about.