Teaching Notes

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Video Game

By 4 p.m.,  Monday, Sept. 30, please do the following:

1) Review the student video projects at http://thelittlerebellion.com/index.php/tag/ethics/

2) Decide which video 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; (d) the relevancy and significance of the issues analyzed  in the video to media professionals, and (e) the artistic merit of the video.

22 comments:

Carly R. said...

After reviewing the student projects, I would award a Socrates for "best video on an ethics case" to the Converse case study.

Rubber Track records, part of the Converse brand, has been using vulnerable, aspiring musicians to advertise their shoes inconspicuously in exchange for free recording time. This was certainly a controversial and relevant issue to choose because these commercials are widely viewed, and Converse has clearly been trying for a long time to incorporate alternative music into their brand. This issue is relevant to any media professional because it incorporates the issue of deception in advertising, and has been widely discussed within the media. It also raises a huge question of the value of music and whether or not it can be diminished when used as a marketing tool. The video was artistically put together and is filled with clips that serve as concrete examples of this controversial advertising by Converse. It is well organized because it explains the issue at hand at shows examples from the beginning.

The project's use of the TARES test is appropriate because it measures ethical persuasion and is particularly relevant to advertisements. Though the test was not clearly broken down in the video and they could have done a better job at that, the video makes it clear that the campaign was unethical because the advertisements are indistinguishable from a typical music video that is not trying to sell a product. Converse masked their advertising, which can be argued to show a lack of respect for the audience.

April Castillo said...

I think the video where The Fargo Forum denies a same sex marriage announcement to be worthy of a Socrates.

The presentation gave background first on what the Potter Box was and gave a good representation of the states that allowed same sex marriage by showing a map. It was easy to picture a world view because of the images shown.

It was definitely appropriate to use the Potter Box to illustrate the ethical issues of the situation. Breaking the box up into facts, values, principles and loyalties showed the duties the paper had to the general public and the right the couple had to free speech and freedom of expression.

I thought the video was very clear, especially concerning the background of the case. It gave some history of the paper and provided photos of couples getting married, showing it is legal in the U.S. and not out of the ordinary. I also think this issue is very relevant to the media today, and that the issue of same-sex marriage will be taught in history books 100 years from now. It is an issue that commonly divides our nation, but its successes are slowly adding up over time. The reversal of The Fargo's decision to not publish the announcement is one more victory for same-sex couples.

I also liked the way the photos were displayed through the video. It was clear, but stylistically pleasing.

jasmine stroman said...

I would give the Socrates for best video to the Re-Targeting of Ads video. I liked how the video began with a humorous example with real actors. I also liked how they presented the questions they asked students on campus. I thought this video was more of the more relevant ones when it comes to everyday life. This to me was the most entertaining video because it's a topic I'm interested in and the facts were presented in a fun eye catching way. I thought it was a good idea for them to use the Categorical Imperative and the Potter box in proving re-targeting ads isn't ethical. It was interesting how they pointed out ad companies use people as a means to make a profit. Which is something we all know but it was interesting to hear it from a philosophical principle stand point.

Bre M-O said...

I would award the Socrates to the same sex marriage announcement project. Ethics in a case can be difficult to understand and I think this presentation did the best job laying all the information about the Fargo Forum and the aftermath of the case in terms of its ethical implications.

Though I think I am probably biased (like all people) from my interest in the gay rights movement and tend to get a bit more fired up about these issues than most others, I think the project was still the clearest.

It talked about the Potter Box and had a vivid explanation of how to and why they analyzed the situation the way they did, which gave me the opportunity to analyze the case along with them. I think that mode of analysis gave me a better idea of the topic and also allowed me to form my own conclusion about the ethics of the same sex marriage announcement denial.

A lot of times when presenting information, even if the topic is exciting, the presentation can drag, and I didn't feel that this presentation dragged as much as some of the others because the pacing was effective. The amount of pictures and the transitions kept me mostly interested and I left the overall presentation feeling educated and not bored.

Gabriela Jeronimo said...

After watching the videos, I'd have to give the Socrates award to the video on The Fargo Forum case.

Out of all of the videos, I felt this was the most organized in terms of explaining everything in detail. For example, they explained the Potter Box, what each term meant and how it tied in with the Fargo Forum case. All the information was easy to understand because of how well it was explained.

For me, this was the easiest to comprehend because it was so clear and specific. There were other videos where there was an overload of information and I got lost midway. The visuals of the video were also simple yet relevant.

DavidSymer said...

It was a close call between the Fargo Forum case and the video dealing with political terrorism encouraging discrimination. The Socrates has to go to the Fargo Forum case.

The video was presented in a pleasing way full of dynamic images, graphs, and quotes. The case pertaining to political terrorism was also well presented and could easily be argued to have utilized pictures and quotes in a cleaner way, but ultimately dragged on for a minute or so too long and lacked the to-the-point nature of the Fargo Forum case.

The Potter Box was a wise decision for analyzing the case. It would have been too easy to cite the SPJ Code of Ethics. By using the Potter Box, the arguments—backed by such documents as the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence (two of the most well-known US documents)— gain significant weight as opposed to relating to the ethical code that is only well known to media professionals. The model was also clearly outlined and explained in-depth so that anyone watching would be able to understand the decision-making model.

The only minor complaint I have is that the issue of same-sex marriage being published in a newspaper shouldn’t be a significant issue to any respectable journalist. Issues like promoted social media posts and information tracking as related to deep ecology are more timely and important. Overall the video presentation accomplished its goal and has earned my recommendation for the coveted Socrates award.

Justin B.E. said...

Of the ethics videos that I watched, I thought the Fargo Forum piece was put together very well and I believe it should get a Socrates.
What caught my attention to the piece was how they structured it. The students took a look at a same-sex marriage case that took place in Fargo, North Dakota, and analyzed the story through the Potter Box process. I admired how they started by presenting the case and then further lead into the step process one goes through with the Potter Box. And so I would say that the students did in fact use the right decision making model for this piece. By doing so, the students were able to get their message across in a clear and precise fashion.
In terms of artistic merit, however, I thought it was aesthetically pleasing for the most part. But being a production major, I personally would have tried to get more pictures that were more in focus and clearer lighting.

Caitlin Huebner said...


The video that engaged my interest and expanded my intellectual understanding of ethics and applying such in the real world would be the Fargo Forum video. I found the use and presentation of the potter box incredibly organized and informational, and the evidence for their opinion was thorough and well-thought out. Going through the four areas of facts, values, loyalties and principles helped me as a viewer to fully understand the opinions, evidence and situation of the Fargo case.

I thought the use of this decision-making model was very prudent as it includes the areas of values, loyalty and principles - which are all heavily emotional based, and this case is one which most find themselves to be very passionate about. The idea of marriage, and love in general, is one that is very ingrained and respected in our human existences, and having this model helped to gain the advantage of an emotional response.

The model was extremely clear and complete, and was well paced with accurate and thorough arguments for each of the four areas. Having and evenly distributed ethical backing for each of the four areas, including the background information such as the current state laws in regards to same sex marriage and direct quotes from the SJP code of Journalism helped to solidify the viewpoints of the authors for their ethical judgement.

I also felt this video deserves the award due to the ending, in which we were reminded of the relevancy of this case, and all related ethical cases, in terms of the professional journalism or public relations world, and media professionals in general. By speaking about the importance of remaining bias free, and true to the general interest of the society and community as a whole, this video was able to relate a singular ethical instance into a lesson that can be applied to any situation one may come about during their professional career. This video helped to remind myself, after watching, of the importance to resist personal opinions that may cloud the overall professional and public responsibility as a reporter, or even public relations/communication professional.

Lastly, the artistic merit of the video was superb. Clear speaking, relevant graphics, quote pull outs and article sources helped to ensure credibility and the attention of the viewer/listener. Overall, an excellent job and a great case to evaluate the ethical decision.

Melanie McKeon said...

Media Ethics: The Fargo Forum denies same-sex wedding announcements

And the Socrates Award goes to….. The Fargo Forum denies same sex wedding announcements!

This video is clearly organized. Rogo and Buczek set the stage with a brief history of the Forum and topic of the case. Then they provide a comprehensive definition and history of the chosen decision making model: the Potter Box. All four parts are identified including: facts, values, principles and loyalties. Throughout the introduction relevant pictures are used to form a establish a persuasive argument. For example, emotion is evoked through images of the gay community. Credibility is established through images of sources cited. Furthermore, they provide images concerning the Potter Box to form a consistent and logical outline of their model.

Facts surrounding the legalization of gay marriage, North Dakota, the couple, the Forum, and the constitution are cited. These facts are unbiased and the students cite legalities and the SPJ code.

The values of journalism as stated in SPJ which clearly uphold equality, impartial judgment, and readership.

In terms of principles, the video employs Immanuel Kant’s ethical theory on the maxim of acts. In using this, the students expose major ethical flaws on behalf of the newspaper.

Finally, the team comes to a conclusion in their discussion surrounding loyalties. The stakeholders in the case are self, community and readership. The video provides plenty of evidence which suggests the publication remained loyal to self, and disregarded community and readership.

Overall, this video makes a clear and comprehensive argument with support of credible sources. In conclusion, Rogo and Buczek prove the Forum was ultimately unethical. In using the Potter Box, it becomes clear the Forum did more harm than good.

The issue analyzed in this video is relevant and significant to media professionals. The legalization of same sex marriage is currently of “consequence” news value. The topic affects a great number of people and receives a ton of media coverage. The story went viral and ended with the publication recanting its initial decision regarding same sex marriage announcements. Many Americans feel strongly on working towards marriage equality. This story illustrates how one story, with lots of coverage, can result in change. Additionally, this story proves unethical journalism does not go unnoticed.

Melanie McKeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zach McGrath said...

I would give the prestigious Socrates award to the Converse case.

After signing unknown bands to their subsidiary label, Converse used their music and likeness in commercials that posed as music videos. As an artist, it decreases your message when it becomes co-opted by corporate interests. The video was clear, concise, and the style was appropriate for the subject matter and engaging.

This video used the TARES test, but could have explained their reasoning a little better. However, it was clear that Converse had crossed a line.

Ben Kindlon said...

If I were to award the "Socrates" to any of the videos posted on The Little Rebellion's website, I would choose for it to go to the Fargo Forum video.

The video applied the ethical decision making model that we studied in class, the Potter Box. I feel that using this ethical decision making model in illustrating the case was effective and helped me to better understand the overall message of the video (clarity and completeness of application of model, check).

The Fargo Forum video has a clear relevance to our society today and to video media professionals actively working in the field.

It was no Spike Lee production, but the artistic merit of the video met my expectations of this kind of video.

Brittany Mohabir said...

The video I believe is worthy of a Socrates is the video on Re-Targeting Ads. This video was clear as well as descriptive on the ethical issue of invasion of privacy we are faced with when we browse the internet. The Re-Targeting Ad video played to my interest initially through humor of them acting and I continued watching due to the clear examples that I was presented with throughout the video.

The video's topic was on how our privacy is invaded when we shop online through re-trargeting ads. The video explained what re-targeting is and it also described how it is done. I enjoyed the fact that the video was executed well that I was able to grasp each concept described throughout the video. I also enjoyed how it was relevant to me because the video had survey statistics from New Paltz students just like me so I was able to relate.

The video was able to demonstrate its point through the Potter Box clearly and break down Re-Targeting Ads. I believe it was straight to the point but yet informative without wasting any time. The pictures and audio were clear, informative and humorous.

ericanardella said...

After viewing past students ethical projects I would award The Fargo Forum video the Socrates best video on an ethics case.

I feel that this presentation had everything in it to explain the unethical controversy that was happening in North Dakota. The organization of the video was easy to follow it started with an introduction, then explained the potter box in full detail and ended with a concluding statement. The decision making model explained why The Fargo Forum was in the wrong for discriminating same sex marriage just because the state did not agree with it. Journalists have the first amendment protecting them and that they should have reported the truth about this couple's decision on matrimony. The couple was not breaking the law they were getting married in a state that allows for same sex marriage. I do not see anything wrong with this.
As for professionalism, this video shows a great deal of that by having quotes and images that were relevant to what was being narrated. Overall I think that this media ethics project deserves an Oscar for portraying an ethical dilemma that is covered everyday in the news.

Nick Fodera said...

Although the iPhone ethics video was a bit more entertaining in a "stick it to the man" kind of way. I would say that in terms of covering all the bases of the case, and then rerouting it through media ethics theory with the use of the Potter Box, I'd have to recommend that the Socrates be given to the Fargo same-sex marriage case. All that the case boils down to is what a journalist is morally obligated to do in service of the public and the greater good, and The Fargo Forum refused to serve its purpose to inform the people about a simple same-sex marriage in favor of enforcing their own agenda.
Going back to the SPJ code of ethics was also a nice touch that served to illuminate and strengthen the points being made in the project.
As a student of video and audio editing myself, it's really nice to see a video that is well put together as this one is. the editing was tight, the narration was solid and most importantly, the images that it cut away to to illustrate its points were very well-thought out and executed. the images helped keep a sense of informativeness while still keeping a sense of kinetic energy, in that the cutaways were not distracting in the least, and helped propel the narrative forward. Simply because it is a well made video with some interesting points to make about journalism ethics when it comes to same-sex marriage, I would certainly recommend it for a Socrates.

Kenny Satterlee said...

I feel the best video exploring the ethics on The Little Rebellion’s page is the coverage of political terrorism. The group explored the history of terroristic actions focusing specifically on the act of book burning. This focus on book burning is applied to analysing an occurrence where a man in the United States was burning Qurans as a political statement to condemn the Islamic faith. The group chose to use the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethics to look at how ethical the coverage of the burning of Qurans. This was an appropriate model to use since it covers a wide variety of issues in a categorical matter. This makes it simple to go through the list and to test the accuracy of each. This is a significant issue to look at when it applies to ethically coverage in the media in a post 9/11 world. The idea of “terrorism” has been central in many newscasts in the past 10 years. We do really need to address how we cover issues of political demonstrations. It has to be fair and unbiased. If we applaud one group of people for taking an action to demonstrate their political agenda then we also must not condemn the same action by different groups. The artistic component of the video was done well. These students were not production majors but used the images, and videos to enhance the discussion.

Madeline Anthony said...

In my opinion the video which focused on the Fargo Form denying a same sex couple the right to publicly announce their wedding is worthy of the Socrates award.
The video was easy to understand, and began by explaining what the Potter Box is exactly and then went into the different parties and how they would fit into the box. The creators go into detail and systematically prove that “ all human beings are born free and equal” without ranting but rather by proving it through the potter box method.
This is also a very relevant issue to society today. In a relatively short amount of time, same sex marriage will be a fight of the past, and a video such as this one will be historic.

Rachel Toy said...

Many of the videos gave good points in their cases on codes of ethics. But I would award the Socrates award to The Fargo Forum case. The video was about a case where a homosexual couple was denied by the North Dakota newspaper, Fargo Forum, to make an announcement in the paper about their engagement. First of all, the video’s organization was done very well. The creators of the video broke down the case in a way that the viewer could clearly understand it, accompanying useful images, and even light background music. The visuals and sounds were creative, clear, and concise. This helped the video creators get their point across even further. Although some images could have been lighter to see, the creators used artistic means to get their point across. They included images of the couple, the gay flag, and even of ethical codes. This creativeness captured the mood of the case.
The creators of the video also included philosophical and SPJ codes of ethics to back up each step of this case and to promote their reasoning. They explained the case with a lot of supportive evidence of what to decide on. For example they included the important factor that journalists are supposed to seek truth and report it in an unbiased manner. They then applied the potter box to look at each detail of the case and see if the decision the Forum made was either right or wrong. This decision-making model seemed to be the best choice in applying it to this particular case. Because of state laws, and the different demographics in the community there was a lot that needed to be considered in this case, and the potter box worked very well to break down all of this information, analyze it, and come to a proper conclusion. This was a very significant case, not only to this newspaper, but to all media professionals because there are so many different opinions, and even laws that conflict with one another. It could be difficult for any media professional to decide what the right thing to do is. But after analyzing it, the Forum changed their policies because they realized they were being unethical.

Katherine Speller said...

I would say “The Fargo Forum denies a same sex marriage announcement” video would get the Socrates as it seems to most thoroughly present the background of the case, the methods used to analyze it (Potter Box) and other prudent information.

The decision to use the Potter Box to illustrate the ethical issues was a good one, in my opinion. The box allows for a hyper-charged, often personal issue to be appropriately compartmentalized by facts, values, principles and loyalities. The conclusion ultimately showed the role the paper played in infringing the free speech/expression of the couple and the failure to perform certain expected duties to their readership.
The video was clear and concise and I think its creators put thought into the delivery of the information, making it an interesting, well-paced piece about a subject that is the source of many personal biases.

John Phillip Tappen said...

The Socrates award goes to the Fargo Forum video. The video contained a detailed description of the method they used to come to their conclusion, the potter box. This made it easier to follow the and keep organized all of the facts, principles and loyalties that pertained to the case and ultimately made their final decision easy to understand.

This case was extremely relevant to those in the media profession because it's a situation that will continue to arise.

quinn said...

...I'm totally being that guy, but I also award the Socrates to the Fargo Forum video.

To begin with, it was a pretty interesting case. I mean, I can't really tell you about any news that has ever come out of Fargo outside of that one time that Steve Buscemi got ate up by a wood chipper. He didn't stay down, though.

The video used the Potter Box very well, and accomplished it's mission of carefully evaluating the case, utilizing civil law and straight facts. Evaluating from an artistic standpoint, none of the videos really stuck out at me - I mean, when you're filling the ten minutes with little visual options outside of Google Images and clipart, it's not like you're going to put together a masterpiece. But I did like the cascade of states.

I vow to use a better musical track on mine, though. That's what bored me. I would also prefer there to be one voice throughout - the change is jarring.

Caitlin Huebner said...

The case I am doing is the article regarding the media frenzy surrounding the birth of the Royal baby, and the extensive efforts media outlets now go through for such news, despite the invasion of privacy. Essentially, I believe this one article touches on a larger issue within our media today, which would be using people, stories or events and capitalizing on them. This story is a perfect example of the extreme ethical issue our society now has with differentiating between the right, need and want to know things – and the difference between the three, which is what we will use to evaluate whether or not the excessive reporting and media coverage of this event is appropriate or ethical. As the 24-hour news generation continues, this issue will become more and more significant as news outlets are constantly becoming more desperate and persistent for news stories, despite whether or not that information is their ethical responsibility to report to the public, and is often times at the expense of an individual’s privacy.

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.