Why the message should matter: Genocide and the ethics of global journalism in the mediapolis
DepartmentMedia Studies and Production
Theory of planned behaviour
Theory of reasoned action
Rational choice theory
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/7274
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AbstractThere is currently a need to re-analyse the notion of ethical obligation in an increasingly globalised world. This article addresses the issue of moral obligation towards a distant stranger in distress in the context of international crises, and the role of both journalists and media consumers in fulfilling that obligation. Despite an inherent assumption that one should always do ‘good’, it is quite difficult to define what this means in the face of millions of distant sufferers during a humanitarian crisis, for whom distance, time and resources pose significant barriers to aid. In order to highlight the tensions found in the arguments surrounding global ethical obligations, and the real-world obstacles to both reporting such events and performing moral acts, this article addresses the extreme case of genocide and mass killings in international conflict zones. The article explores this question in three parts. First, the key philosophical arguments regarding ethics and our relationship with a distant other are outlined. Roger Silverstone's (2007) concept of the mediapolis is used to incorporate the role of both the media and the media audience in recognising and acknowledging the distant other. These ideas are then expanded to the case of global humanitarian crises and distant others in distress. The second section narrows the topic, addressing obligation on an individual level, as a member of the media audience, and explores why we do not always perform in an ethical manner. This question is analysed by incorporating behaviour prediction models from the fields of economics and psychology into a discussion of ethical behaviour. Finally, returning to the production side of media, the article begins to outline a framework for print journalists covering international crises to present information in such a way that recognises how the media audience reads and internalises information, and thus promotes moral action from the public by altering the weighting of preferential action that would be predicted by rational choice theory and the theory of planned behaviour.
CitationKogen, L. (2009). Why the message should matter: Genocide and the ethics of global journalism in the mediapolis. The Journal of International Communication, 15(2), 62-78. https://doi.org/10.1080/13216597.2009.9674751
Citation to related workRoutledge
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in 'Journal of International Communication' on 2009-01-01, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13216597.2009.9674751.
Has partJournal of International Communication, Vol. 15, No. 2
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