Teaching Notes

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

And the Oscar Goes to. . .

By noon, Sunday, Feb. 28, please do the following:

1) Visit the class video projects by groups from previous semesters (you'll find them on the blog)

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 it


Kim Dubin said...

While looking through the videos, they were all done well although I thought one in particular outshines some of the others. The video "Being First" I thought was great for numerous reasons. It was clear throught he first speaker, making it sound as if it was a documentry for a professional video. Their were good photos put int he video as well. What I liked about it is that it brought up the Potter Box model and had it illustrated within the slides. It focused on wether channel 4 made the right choice about ethical decisions.

This group organized each part of the Potter Box very well. The facts, values, loyalties, and principles were al listed out. The only thing I would tell them to fix was the font for showing the four areas. It was too small to read but we knew what they were because they were said clearly through the voice over. I understood the case as well, based on what they had in their video. the fact that reporting the DR with hysteris and HIV status before getting the full facts would jeopardize his medical representation. This would cause panic that is not neccesary. Eventually Channel 4 wasn't willing to sacrifice their integrity to report this case without all the facts. I think that was the right ethical choice, since they weren't ruining their channel status and the doctors as well. The video was done smart, organized, explained with a model, and creative. They did a great job.

Alana Davis said...

After going through the previous videos, I found that a few tied for a "Socrates" for me. While the controversy surrounding the posting of Obama calling Kanye West a jackass on twitter was very good, as well as the unethical dilemmas with the Blair Witch project, I found the video about using deception to find out if mayor Jim West was indeed on gay.com to be the best.

I believe the group organized the aspects of the Potter Box very well and explained them in great detail. I liked how the video also emphasized on not only being able to know the ethical decision, but to argue it the right way. The Potter Box was a great model to use (maybe because we haven't learned another one so far, haha). The voice overs were very nicely done, I liked how all the videos, not only this one, had a vast array of photos to show, not just a few that last on the screen for minutes at a time. The case was well presented and the explanation on how they got to their decision could be a very nice "how to" for someone who needs help.

Overall, the case of how the Spoksman-Review executed their ethical dilemma and how this group argued it's soundness wins top prize for me.

Lindsey said...

There are many good videos posted on this blog from past students. The clip that I believe is the most informative and made me most interested was Twitter this. This clip was about Kayne West coming on the stage while Taylor Swift was getting her award. Kayne said Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time and should have got the award. After this spread quickly through the media, on an “off the camera moment” President Barack Obama made a comment toward Kayne West that he was a jackass for doing this to a girl that seems so nice. Right after he said this Barack wanted to make sure that it was off the record and said, “Give the president some slack.” When hearing this it brings up the ethical dilemma, which is when should a person’s privacy be taken over reporting the truth. The people making this video explained that there is three categories of news, right to now, need to know, and want to know. Right to know is public information that citizens have legal access to, need to know is pertinent news that impacts the lives of the public, and want to know is information of interest with little or no relevance or important to the public. So going back to President Obama’s comment, the creators of this video believes that his comment was a “want to know” statement and shouldn’t have been let out to the public. In the Code of Ethics, this issue would not be news so then people ask why is it on the news? Some journalists like Anderson Cooper use twitter to promote news stories, while others use it to spread gossip. Things that are important and things that are gossip should be on two totally different networks. Journalists are suppose to seek truth and report it and should give facts not opinions. I believe this video should win the award because it was very informative, while having great back-up information.

Samantha said...

I think the project on Julie Jacobson’s controversial photo was very well done. The students did a good job of explaining the Potter Box as well as presenting the facts, values, principles and loyalties in the case. They also broke down the individual principles, explaining what they meant and how the photo fit into each category. They were able to present a lot of information in the short ten minute video, I feel like I know a lot about the case and how all of the parties felt in the situation.

This project also used a lot of examples of photojournalism, some that were controversial and some that weren’t. I think it helped demonstrate that this was not the first time that a controversial photo was released with backlash from the public and families of those photographed. Photojournalists as well as journalists face a lot of ethical dilemmas when they have so much information and they need to filter what the public needs to know and what gory details they can leave out.

Overall I think this project was very well done, the speaker was easy to understand and the script presented a lot of information without overwhelming me. The video was also easy to watch because there were more images than words floating across the screen so I didn’t have to read and listen two different things at the same time. I also liked the quote at the end, it was a good way to wrap up the case.

Chelsea LaDue said...

I liked a few of them; Sexual Assault Victims, War Photo, and Reality Star were my favorites. Out of those three I would give the "Socrates" award to "Reality Star." It kept my interest the most and used the potter box very well in my opinion.
First off, I liked how they started with a video clip instead of just going right into the voice-over. It made me wonder what the rest of the video is going to be about which made me watch longer. I loved the use of pictures and how well they went along with what the person was saying during the voice-over.
The potter box worked very well with this topic. The facts, values, principles, and loyalties are all listed out and discussed in detail. It was easy to follow along with because they pointed out each part of the box before they went into detail about what components of the case go along with that part. Before I watched the video I didnt think there was anything wrong with what they did since it was Goody's decision to be on TV. But after watching it they actually convinced me that she was not in the right state of mind to make these decisions and it was clearly unethical.
The artistic merit of the video is what swayed me to choose this video over the others. I thought it was very creative and colorful. I liked the part when they brought up the Potter Box and said "no, not that Potter (referring to Harry Potter)" Things like that are what grab my attention.
Overall, I thought the video was constructed very well based on information and creativity. It kept my attention and unlike for some of the videos, I was actually intrigued and wanted to watch the whole thing.

J.Rodriguez said...

I actually looked at quite a few of videos posted on the blog and I just always seemed to turn back to the "Twitter this" video. I remembered the situation with the whole Taylor Swift being interrupted by Kanye West and it brought me back memories. I like how the student first showed that scene from the VMA's. I thought it was going to be a video about that. When I then continued to watch the video, I saw how it was actually about the President (Obama) and about the remark he made towards Kanye West being an "Asshole". I really liked the information on the video and I feel that even if someone didn't watch the VMA's, they would of still got the whole gist of it. The Presentation as well was put together in a good manor, telling all the facts and actually showing the video as some type of "evidence" to back up whatever it is they mentioned. I like how the student mentioned the whole problem with "At what point does a persons private life become public". This statement made me think about the paparazzi and the kind of things they put in the news today. I feel like the student achieved what she was trying to say when she made this video. She mentioned also the whole deal with "Right to know, Need to know, and Want to know". I think about this everyday because at what point in News today is info really on a Need to know basis?? I feel like society today is drifting away from the Need to know and It has become more of a want to know thing. Of course the president is looked at as the authority figure but he is also a normal human being. people make comments everyday in their lives and I feel like he was just stating his opinion on the whole situation with Taylor Swift and Kanye West. I thought it was wrong to post that video especially since his statement was made off the record. I guess what Im trying to say is that I would give the "Socrates" to the "Twitter This" video. The girl had accurate information and I felt made a good argument and a good case to back up her info.

JustinMcCarthy said...

I liked a few of the videos. But I'll give the Socrates award to "Reality Star."
The students seemed to have been well informed as to all of the aspects surrounding the British reality television star and the topic of reality television in general. I liked how they used the Potter box to analyze whether or not the coverage of the woman's battle with cancer was ethical.
When the video began, I didn't really have an issue with there being a reality show about a woman battling cancer, since she was obviously consenting.
But as the video went on, I was surprised to find that this woman had done 13 reality shows. I can't help but think that producers were capitalizing on a famous woman's illness.
After the video had gone through all the elements of the Potter box, I understood the point the students were making.
They used effective images and organized their video well, so my Socrates award goes to them.

Meg said...

One of the videos that really stood out for me was "Twitter This". I like how they started out with a clip that kind of led in to what they were going to talk about. In the beginning you assume it's going to be about the Kanye vs Taylor controversy, but it really leads in to President Obama's comment. By first showing a clip, I feel like it gets the audience interested and curious as to what the rest of the video is going to be about rather than just jumping right into the story. They did a really good job of organizing and putting together the information needed in this video. Along with J. Rodriguez I liked what the student said about "at what point does a persons private life become public? This has definitely been an ongoing question throughout our class discussions and I think it's a really important topic to address when it comes to journalism no matter who you're dealing with. In most cases you are always dealing with someone's life and the ethical decision in how to report the story. Yes Obama is looked up to and is expected to be a role model, but the guy is only human and he makes mistakes too. He's allowed to have an opinion. I think alot of the videos were good examples in that they used models like the Potter Box and were able to relate a lot of the material back to things we talked about in class. I'm glad we were able to look at these videos in order to give us an example of what to do and what not to do. This will be very helpful when it comes time to do our videos. Overall I would give the Socrates to Twitter This because of its clear organization and useful examples throughout the video.

Julia said...

Many of these videos could have won the "Socrates." I would award it to the project titled "Watching a Dying Reality Star." This project deals with death in the media, and whether or not it is ethical to open the public to reality star, Jade Goody's, fight with cancer. The public wasn't just exposed to her death. They were invited into the room while she received chemo. The project looks at the big picture and confronts the high demand for reality television, and whether or not it actually is reality. The project directly uses the Potter Box to analyze the case and find out the ethicality of documenting her death. The model could not have been more applied to the case than it was. I think the powerpoint was done well also. Many pictures, such as the Potter Box, appeared when necessary. Since this case deals with the media's portrayal of Goody's death and life, the project contained many pictures and a video of her throughout her battle with cancer. This project was entertaining as well as ethically sound. And hey, like we said in class, isn't that what we all want: entertaining?

KHutchinson said...

In class our debate about deception has been the most interesting one to me. This si why I chose the Fall 2008 video on deception.
I think the case study they used was a perfect one.
Their organization was quite impecable in my opinion. I hadn't heard about this issue before, and after they decribed the events that took place, I felt I had a firm grasp on the details, and the potential issues and concerns that this video project would be covering.
The only decision making model we've gone over in class has been the Potter Box, which did confuse me a bit. I liked the model they used: The Poynter Insitutes 10 Questions for Making Good Ethical Decisions. I think as a decision making model this one was really laid out well, and although there are 10 direct steps to make, which could seem a bit lengthy, I think every question asked really directs thought to a correct level of a situation. The questions seemed to really be able to cover all sides to this affair, and did so very thoroughly.
They used the model very well, too. They really though out each step, and completed it thoroughly before they moved on to the next step. It seemed that they covered all the angles they could before they moved on. They were very rigorous in their completion of their evaluation.
Lastly, it wasn't boring to view at all. The voice overs were well done, and their musical choices were subtle enough as to not take away from the voice over, but complimented it so the voice over didn't become boring. Their use of graphics was well done as well; I liked the way they presented each question of the model. Their use of available pictures of the people and situation seemed a bit limited, but even when they re-used an image, it still worked quite well.
Overall I'd say it's a much better job than I could complete right now. They seemed to have a very tight lock on their knowledge of how to evaluate a situation, and even more so, I don't have the first clue on how to go about creating a video like this! (although I've no doubt that once I look into it's I'll have no problem...at leas I'm hoping)
I'd give this video an A definitely. It was entertaining, enlightening, knowledgeable, and was visually pleasing and the added music was enticing.

I hope everyone's fairing well after this storm! We haven't had electricity sine Thursday, and man, you better BELIEVE it's cold, especially at night!

Sarah Boalt said...

While a lot of the videos were done well, the one that really caught my attention was "Reality Star". I thought that this was a good topic because it is something that is current (or was at the time) and most people knew about. This enabled the viewer to evaluate the case for themselves based on what they already knew. I liked that I was able to more closely relate to what I was watching.
I thought that the Potter box was a good choice for this case. It evaluated the case well and looked at all aspects of it, not just that she was a willing and able reality star. I never noticed how much she was actually being exploited until I saw it through the Potter box. Even though I probably never paid it enough attention to notice, I just saw that she wanted to do the whole reality thing with her cancer. Whether it was invited or not, privacy was invaded. I also felt that their use of pictures and video flowed well in the project and properly covered the media's exploitation of this issue.

eden rose said...

I would have to agree with Julia and give the Socrates award to “watching a dying reality star”. As a whole this presentation was very together and entertaining. I think the fact that there were lots of pictures and a video clip in the beginning of the presentation really helped keep your attention on the video, especially because it was dealing with a reality TV star. The quote that I found most interesting is when the narrator said, “they followed her death as relentlessly as her life”. This is basically where the ethics come into play in the whole situation. I feel that after stating this quote the viewer really got dragged in to the whole issue and Jade Goodys death. This group used the potter box to analyze the ethical decision and I think they did quite a good job. I like how they went in depth and didn’t just state once fact, one principle, one value etc. They brought up values such as money and fame, which were obviously related to this whole situation. They explained everything they were speaking about in an understandable way, which was nice to see. Another thing that I found interesting was their use of this question that we constantly hear; do the ends justify the means? I think that although in this case they said what the media did was unethical I feel like Jade was very on board with this whole situation. She obviously had to weigh out her own ethical values and chose to take this route in life; she felt that she “owed it to the public”. I think all in this entire group did a great job of really getting the viewer to think about the struggle between the public and private parts of society. I would have to agree though and say although jade was all for the fame and openness she was still being exploited largely with the help of the media.

MBachmann said...

Looking through all the videos I liked "Deception in Journalism-Jim West and the Spokesman Review." First off it related really well with what we are doing now in class, but it was one of the ones that actually kept my interest. It had back round noise going on so it wasn't just a monotone person speaking the entire time and the narrator kept an upbeat tone and made it sound interesting. It was also a very interesting case. The creators of the video included photos and also numbered all the important parts which made it really easy to follow her case. They also included some ethical codes and some good quotes to help inform their viewers on the topic. I think overall they did a really good job.

Victoria said...

I really liked a few of the videos, but the one that stuck out in my mind was the "Twitter This" one. I enjoyed the examples they gave. I thought it was interesting how they started out with the Kanye West, Taylor Swift controversy. It is a relevant example since the issue did become a hot twitter topic. I also believe it was a good topic to start with to catch the viewers attention, since it is something that everyone was very interested in after it happened. I think the organization of the video flows well. The students clearly stated their ethical dilemma; the private life v. public life. They gave many examples, and clearly defined all the components of the case.
They clearly discuss aspects of the potter box, especially facts and values. Although no clear principle was done, they did go over a solution that could possibly be used in correcting the quality of news.
Obviously this video was not done by professionals, but I thought the use of both still examples and video examples gives the video artistic merit.

Andrew Limbong said...

I think that the "Deception in Journalism: Jim West and the Spokesman-Review" should be awarded the Socrates as well. Before even going into detail on the Jim West case, I enjoyed how they took a step back and analyzed the greater umbrella of deception and its ethics before zoning into detail on the West case. When they did, they cleanly and neatly broke up all the different facts of the case and presented them in an organized manner, helped by good sound editing, before moving through the rest of the Potter box.

Artistically speaking, none of the video editing tricks came off as particularly cheesy, which helped give it a more professional sheen.

Maxim Alter said...

I personally really enjoyed "Being First". I thought that it was organized very well and it was an extremely relevant topic. It is an issue as well as a moral dilemma that a lot of journalists face every day; to get a story right or get a story first. The Potter Box model was used perfectly to describe the dilemma and the ethical decisions that come with it. When I do my project, I want to include the Potter Box and other ethical decision making tools to describe my topic. The piece was put together with structure and organziation in mind as I was never bored or felt that it was repetitive. It's obvious that the group worked incredibly hard and were successful at portraying their topic and I hope to do the same with mine.

Kim Plummer said...

Sorry for the late response, the internet at my house was down. Just got to the library on campus.


Like others before me have done, I, too would give the award to "Watching a Dying Reality Star." I thought it was well-organized and the group put the case into context, exploring how her the decision was affected by her past fame and how it will affect the futures of those who who were left behind in the wake of this media saturation, like her children.

Their presentation of the topic was interesting. I think they did a good job identifying the ethical dilemma and how the rise of reality television has blurred the line of public and private. They clearly identify the facts of the case in detail. They had good supporting quotes from sources like Goody and other news organization.

Their presentation was a comprehensive one, exploring private v. public, reality television as escapism and if the documenting of her death as an opportunity for public health activism.

Chanel Arias said...

The video that deserves a Socrates award is "Political TMI" I really enjoyed this video because it went into detail on a topic that I have spoken with others about more than once; the celebrity status of political figures. The group made a great choice by focusing on President Barrack Obama, who serves as a perfect example for a political figure with celebrity appeal. There are songs dedicated to his speeches, celebrities wearing shirts with his face on it, and late night talk shows that get every kind of unimportant information about him and his family. The use of the "Right to know, need to know, and want to know," model was excellent as the video explained much of the info we know about the president lies in the "want to know" category. For many, it seems as if we, as the audience, need this information but all we need to know is what exatly president Obama is doing for our country.

Aside from the informational aspect of this video, the group did a great job at incorporating relevant images of Obama and his family. I especially enjoyed the video interviews with Obama and Michelle, they really enhanced the entire point of the project.

Allison said...

Like many others I agree that “Twitter this” is my favorite student video. The way they introduced the issue was creative and caught my eye. The Taylor Swift, Kanye West conflict was a highly publicized event, so much so that the president had an opinion on the issue. I found that a great tool for the students was having both the VMA video and the clip of president Obama’s comment, it kept me interested and reminded me of the events that took place. Having the clips involved was entertaining and served as evidence for both events. The controversial issue of the president’s comment about Kanye’s actions was not on a need to know basis. Having his comment released was for gossiping reasons. Revealing the tape was for an entertaining purpose. I think the students did a good job on presenting the ethical issues at hand.

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.