Monday, February 23, 2009

            “Exactly what constitutes being a journalist? What moral and ethical standards should guide media professionals?” (97 Baran & Davis).

   These two questions often contradict themselves, depending on the individual. As chapter 5 in “Mass Communication Theory” discusses, there are many different theories to the censorship in the media. There are those that believe that there should be no laws or restrictions governing the media; these are the “First Amendment Absolutists”. Then there are those who “believe in direct regulation of media, often by a government agency or commission” (99 Baran & Davis). This chapter speaks to the violence in the media, and the lines that are often crossed by journalists when reporting a story. But if there were restictions in the field of journalism would we as a society be satisfied? It seems that we are never fully satisfied when receiving information on a breaking news story. But when the question of morals and ethics comes into play, things may get debatable.

  The article I wanted to reference for this particular issue was one relating to the story of Rihanna and Chris Brown.  For any of those that are unaware of this situation, Chris Brown allegedly attacked his girlfriend, Rihanna, after a pre-grammy show, and within a few days after the altercation a photo was leaked through the gossip site, TMZ, of Rihanna’s battered face. This is a very sensitive and controversial story especially dealing with the issue of domestic violence, and so when the photo of Rihanna was suddenly appearing all over the news, LAPD launched an investigation trying to find how this photo was leaked.

 “The LAPD said in its statement that it took seriousy its "duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence" and had launched an immediate internal investigation into the leaked photograph as well as filing a "personnel complaint".  Did TMZ cross a line in this story? Or was this the proof that everyone was looking for? Do we need visual evidence to know that a story is real? When Baran and Davis spoke to the issue of Communication Freedom, and is there such a thing as “too far” when it comes to the media and the press exercising their rights of “freedom of speech and freedom of the press”.  As much as I would argue that there are certain lines the media should respect, I also find myself yearning to hear more about today’s top stories; details help me to understand the story fully.

  In “The Press and the Public Interest: A Definitional Dilemma”, by Everette Dennis, they search for a definition of what the public interest consists of. “The rubric of public interest seems to belong to that genre of euphemisms that includes the public welfare, the common good, and the national interest,” (163 Dennis).  So when the news turns to violence, is it still considered a public interest? Do we see the violence in the news as an entertainment factor, or as serving a public interest in informing us on what is going on in the world?

Vice President of ABC news stated in reference to the story of the Virginia Tech shooting that, “This story didn’t need any sensationalism, but people are always looking for that extra rating point,” (96 Baran & Davis). I think this statement holds a lot of truth to it in what societies set expectations is. Do we expect full coverage from the media no matter what the crisis? Or should there be restrictions, and some privacy regulations, giving the people directly involved in the crisis respect and confidentiality?


  1. The issues dealing with regulation through out media has always been an issue and will continue to be one. There is no certain way on how to attack this dilemma. Janelle asks if “there were restrictions on the field of journalism would we as a society be satisfied,” and my answer to this is no. Our society holds strong to our freedom of speech. It is what makes our nation so great because we have so many competing opinions and ideas. It is our right to state our thoughts and to see those of others. However, the same answer holds true if there were no restrictions on media. People will argue about how it is unethical and immoral to show this type of material. That in some way it is harming our nation. So what can be done about this?
    In our book, Baran & Davis, it mentions the social responsibility theory. This theory demonstrates “total media freedom on the one hand and for external control on the other” (98). This approach brings self regulating to the table and this is about as close as we can get to a mutual agreement among everyone. No matter what is done or how things are being covered there is going to be some people out there who feel as though it is wrong. There is no way to make every person happy in any situation.
    When it comes to the TMZ battle with Rihanna’s picture, I believe it was ethically wrong to show the image. Police try to keep victims of domestic violence unknown but because this is a celebrity, the media feels like it should go to the ends of the earth to get the story and pictures. They presented this photo so they could bask in all the glory of the ratings. This is a major story that has been talked about for weeks and of course TMZ wanted all of the credit. However, it did not stop me from looking at the picture and finally believing all of the rumors. No matter how wrong we know it is or how we don’t believe in what is being done, we are all curious. It is in our nature. We want to hear about the bad things, the outrageous stories, and anything dealing with celebrities.
    I strongly believe that there will be no end to this battle of ethics. The public wants all the dirt and bad news and the media are just the ones to go and get it. So why do we blame them for doing their job? Will we sit back and notice that we are part of this big issue?

  2. The issue of social responsibility does become debatable when you look at a news story that has morals or ethics involved. In that way they are detaching themselves from just being the middle man and providing the straight facts and starting to lean more towards changing or altering opinions.

    In the case of the TMZ article, I know I personally don’t care about the two celebrities but they do have an enormous fan base behind both of them (well, maybe less in Brown’s case now). But does this story cross the line when it comes to social responsibility? It can be looked at from two different angles. On the one hand this is new information in an on-going matter in the news so if they weren’t one of the first ones to leak it another station probably would have. And on the other hand they were releasing material that wasn’t supposed to be sent out to the public yet. But I don’t believe the public needs any sort of visual evidence to believe in something; an example would be any religion for the most part.

    I found the clip shown in class today to be of particular interest. I believe the reporter (when interviewing the President of ABC) was trying to make a firm statement even though he was phrasing it as a question. He was trying to make the President lean a particular way when he mentioned something to the fact that because there’s all this superfluous junk floating around the media today there are less real news stories being covered. I agree with both sides of the argument however because since there’s so much time there needs to be more filler to hold onto the audience’s attention but the weight of the material has definitely changed since the news first appeared on TV.

    Because of this need for a filler, time wise it’s very difficult for regulations to be put on news coverage, especially live coverage. “In classical capitalist theory as formulated by Adam Smith, there is little need for the government to regulate markets. An open and competitive marketplace should regulate itself” (Baran & Davis 104). So there seems to be a decent argument that the professionalism of our journalists should be enough of a sensor to deal with filtering the news. I also found it peculiar that a little later on the text read, “So why not regulate the marketplace of ideas?” (106). It seems to be a touchy subject, journalists want a particular kind of freedom and the audience wants to hear tantalizing news stories but for some people this is too much and there needs to be some kind of safeguard.

    Overall if people like Rihanna and Chris Brown knowingly go into the spotlight I don’t believe there should be that much privacy allowed. As covered in Comm. Law these people are all purpose public figures and there are very few places where they are allowed not to be photographed or bothered by the public. So while the photo may or may not have ‘leaked’ to the public it was still taken and that means it’s susceptible to the public eye.

  3. This may be terrible to admit, but when details were not released about the Chris Brown case, I felt gipped. I felt that I, as a member of the American public, deserved more information. This is ridiculous, I know. With any other domestic violence case, I would not want to know the details, and would be appalled if any details were released, but since the two people involved in this particular case are celebrities, I felt that the news media owed me some kind of juicy scoop. I expected full disclosure just because the people involved are celebrities.

    This is what current media has come to. Instead of just toeing the line between giving the public full disclosure and releasing nothing at all, the media has completely cross the line. There are very little, if any, boundaries left. The idea of social responsibility has gone to pieces and no longer exists. The media is no longer properly functioning. It is a broken machine that spews out any and all sensational information. Baran and Davis state on page 109 that "the media are envisioned as independent watchdogs, a social institution, the Fourth Estate of government, charged with making certain that all other institutions...serve the public." The media do currently serve the public...too much nonsense and sensational information.

    How do we fix this? Many members of the public get angry if government regulation is even mentioned in the same sentence as media. I believe that the media has crossed a huge boundary and there is no going back at this point. I personally believe that there should be some regulations and restrictions on stories, especially about something as personal and appalling as domestic violence. I don't care who you are, pictures of you after you have been beaten up should never be released to the public.

    I have been trying to find someone to blame for what has happened to the media. Is it the journalists and editor's fault or are they just feeding into what the public wants? Is it the American public's fault, do we only pay attention to the sensational stories?

    I had a huge issue with what Baran and Davis wrote on page 96 about the Virginia Tech shootings. "To heighten the drama, all networks--broadcast and cable--repeatedly used on-screen graphics declaring the senseless murders a "massacre," and a "bloodbath." There is no need to frighten the public even more, or to sensationalize an already unbelievable story. This is like adding salt to a wound. That is what the media has become, an irritant.

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  5. Social Responsibility will always be a topic of controversy. There is no doubt that often enough the line is definitely crossed when covering certain stories. However, there is always going to be some sort of controversy with this discussion because many are going to side with the idea of “freedom of speech” and that there should be no laws or regulations on speech. While there are others who believe that line is being crossed a lot and that there should be some laws and regulations to protect others.
    Baran and Davis state that the social responsibility theory is, “a normative theory that substitutes media industry and public responsibility for total media freedom on the one hand and for external control on the other” (Baran and Davis, 98). I think that this definition is extremely accurate because the words they use could not describe social responsibility any better. There are those who believe that there should be “total media freedom” while others believe that there should be some “external control”.
    For example, the Rihanna and Chris Brown incident is a perfect example of this. When the picture was released of Rihanna’s wounds that Chris Brown supposedly is responsible for, people went crazy. Some people think that it’s no big deal that the picture got released while others believe that it is irresponsible of the LAPD to have let something slip like this and be released. It is supposed to be their job to keep things such as this confidential and out of sight. This story definitely crosses the line of social responsibility. However, some people may disagree with that statement.

    I have to agree with Steph that when the details were not initially released about the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident, I also felt very “gipped”. I was shocked that details hadn’t been release. With our society, we constantly want information at our fingertips and fast. This probably has a lot to do with us being part of the internet generation. However, when this photograph of Rihanna’s wounds were released, there is a part of me that was dying to see the photograph but another part of me made me think about how she must feel after this was released. I feel like this is definitely private information that should not have been released. However, that will always be a huge controversy as to whether or not it should or shouldn’t have been released.

    Should it be a world of “total media freedom” or should there be some “external control”?

    -Marlaina <3

  6. I feel that people want to know the whole story but sometimes the story gets to real for them to handle. They want to know the details with audio and visual images but then start to wonder about what if this happened to them. If we dont have all of the details then we dont have the full story and our views may be misconstrued as to what really happened, thus we judge for ourselves and sometimes assume the details. As for government regulation i think that there should be none unless it will hurt the public (being in the public interest) in some way or an example would be wartime and journalists not reporting on troop movements and what not. Baran and Davis use this example when talking about Harold Lasswell and Walter Lippmann saying "They argue that media practitioners cant be trusted to communicate responsibly or to use media effectively to serve vital public needs - especially during times of war or social upheaval" (B&D pg. 99). In communication law and ethics we talked about public figures and private individuals. I feel that journalists should be able to report with those types of laws. Public figure meaning anything can be written and private individuals have a little more privacy.

  7. I think that media should have the right to self regulate without the involvement of the government, however when it comes to issues such as the Rihanna and Chris Brown case I think that the line gets crossed when confidential photos such as domestic violence gets leaked. If those photos were leaked by LAPD that means that they were meant to be private and a reason why no one wanted them to be seen. The picture of Rihanna’s bruised faced can also serve the public interest in bringing awareness to domestic violence. We live in a society that craves gossip and all the details especially involving celebrities. We think that because they are famous we have a right to know everything about their personal lives. This however is somewhat true, because celebrities are a public figure they have less rights when it comes to the media. Because there are so many outlets to receive the news, news sources face the competition with each other of who can produce the story the fastest. If it wasn’t TMZ who showed the photos someone else would have. I think that we criticized the media too much for crossing the lines in their news stories but it goes back to basically supply and demand. The media produce stories that the public are interested in. Seeing those photos of Rihanna’s face made the story that much more real, I also think they we are a very visual society.

    Media professionals are socially responsible; it is the idea that the media does not need outside controls because we are socially good ourselves. I agree and disagree with this theory; I do agree that media professionals should be socially responsible and that there is no need for government controls. On the contrary I don’t think we are socially good all the time; there is a lot of competition which leads to survival of the fittest. One journalist might not agree with what they are reporting on but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it in order to keep their job or pay the bills.

    “During the era of yellow journalism, most media professionals cared very little for the niceties of accuracy, objectivity, and public sensitivities. But in the first decades of the twentieth century, a crusade began among some media industry people and various social elites to clean up the media and make them more respectable and credible”(Baran, Davis 97). This theory led to professionalism within journalism. While journalists still maintain some sort of professional journalism, people have different ideas of what is moral. It is hard to point the finger when people including journalists have different notions of what is right and wrong and what is considered professional.

    -Danielle Pouliot

  8. I think that in the debate of entertainment news versus journalism, it is hard to draw a clear line between the two. We have the news media saying that these entertainment stories are ‘real news’ because it is what people want today. It would be easy to say that these sensationalized stories should not be in the nightly news, but wouldn’t we be looking for these stories elsewhere? This proves the media’s point.

    I agree with the blogger in the sense that I need to know every aspect of a story, which poses concerns for privacy and confidentiality. In referring to the Chris Brown and Rihanna saga, I still find myself searching the news for any updates or photographs from the incident, even though they are private citizens in the law’s eyes, I still feel that celebrity’s are public figures.

    I believe that the entertainment/news journalism that we know today has surpassed even our expectations with the advent of blogs. Sites such as Perez Hilton have made millions of dollars by combining gossip stories with current events, and I am not one to deny my love of the mix. Baran and Davis quote blogger Jeff Jarvis, “We’re all journalists…the only thing that made journalists journalists before blogs was access to the guy who owned the press” (120). This blur between journalist and blogger is a hotly debated issue that may never be clear, because it really comes down to what the audience wants to hear, and if they are not finding it on their local news, they will go to other means such as blogs to inform themselves.

  9. I believe that TMZ which is a blog site cross the line by posting the battered picture of Rihanna. Yes, Rihanna and Chris Brown are celebrities but they have a right to their own privacy like any human being. TMZ could have jeopardized the case for the LAPD which they had against Chris Brown. Even though TMZ is a blog it still has its own code of ethics like journalists do. Ethical bloggers have to treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving respect. In Baran & Davis Chapter 5, “Show compassion for those people who may be affected adversely by weblog content and be sensitive when seeking …photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief” (121). These previous statement was not taking into consideration when TMZ posted the battered picture of Rihanna’s face. The picture was put on TMZ blog for profits without any concerns for Rihanna’s privacy. Also this was proof to the public and media that had doubts of Rihanna being beat up by her boyfriend Chris Brown. I think the media and the public should have been more sensitive to Rihanna. Now the whole world knows what Chris Brown did to her. Without Rihanna’s consent and before she was publicly ready to deal with the situation.

    There is a conflict between social responsibility and profitability in news media organization. This continues to grow in our increasingly concentrated and commercialized media. Responsibility aspect becomes less important to the mission of many media organization ( Baran and Davis 124). I believe this is a prevalent issue in media today. Most news organizations deal with the issue of serving public interest. Sometime public interest is not news worthy. This is why there are conflict between social responsibility and news station trying to make a profit. According to McQuail reader Chapter 13 “while the truism that the press should serve the public interest is accepted by nearly everyone, the satisfactory definition of that concept has proven more difficult”(162). It is hard for anyone to give public interest a definition because it so broad. The news should serve public the interests but whose. The news organizations needs to cut down on the entertainment stories and start going back to reporting real news. For example two years ago in 2007 when all the news station was reporting why Paris Hilton was going to jail. Honestly who cares? This incident was getting so much media attention. I believe as a society we had more important things to worry about and need to be informed about. I hope that news media organizations realize that it is more important to report real news than worry about profits such as advertising.

  10. In regards to whether or not TMZ should have posted the image of Rihanna after the incident with Chris Brown, I agree with Michaela. While Rihanna is a celebrity and constantly in the limelight and public’s eye, she is still a human being and still has a right to privacy. Just because she is a celebrity does not mean she is not experiencing pain right now, and the media is not helping by posting a picture of her battered all over magazines, newspapers, the internet, etc. In my opinion, the media should have written the story about the incident with Chris Brown and Rihanna as objectively as possible by including only the facts and exactly what happened during the incident, and should not have included the picture. I think it would have been easy to visualize Rihanna’s injuries from an objectively written description, and that the picture was not necessary. Personally, I think TMZ just wanted people to look at their website and therefore posted the picture to get more people to read their story. In this case, TMZ is not following the guidelines presented in Social Responsibility Theory. In addressing the questions that Social Responsibility Theory should answer, Baran and Davis write, “Should the media do something more than merely distribute whatever content will earn them the greatest profits in the shortest time?” (Baran & Davis 97) The obvious answer to this is yes, and clearly, TMZ was not concerned with anything but ratings and profits in posting the photo.

    On the other hand, while it was unnecessary to post the picture, I do think it was important to publish stories about the incident and that though the situation involved two celebrities, the story was more news, rather than entertainment. Domestic violence is a real issue in our society. It is an issue that should be addressed and reported on the news, whether the story involves two celebrities or two average Americans. If the news reported a story about what Chris Brown and Rihanna wore to the Grammy's, that is not news. However, the incident was not about Rihanna and Chris Brown themselves or their lives, but was an example of a real issue that affects and is important to the public. Domestic violence is a problem in the lives of many Americans today, and therefore I think it was important to address and report on the situation. I think people do want to watch violence on the news because it has somewhat of an entertainment factor to it, however, I do not think the Chris Brown and Rihanna story is unquestionably serving public interest over being pure entertainment.

    I do not think that Social Responsibility Theory will ever answer all questions in regards to what is ethical or unethical in the media because the theory is far too broad and vague, and therefore it is up to society to decide from situation to situation. For example, Baran and Davis write, “The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report entitled Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States, identifying snack and fast-food advertising as a major contributor to childhood obesity and calling for restrictions on this type of marketing. Pediatricians, teachers, parents, and politicians quickly took up both causes; but parental supervision would obviate the need for government intrusion, said their critics. These controversies are not easily resolved, and perhaps they should not be. Each houses the conflict between our basic belief in freedom of the press and expression and a desire to build a humane, meaningful society in which all people can live safely and with dignity” (Baran & Davis 97). I think this situation illustrates a good point. It is important to remember that we do have a right to freedom of speech, but that media professionals need to express themselves in a way that serves the general public by creating a “humane, meaningful society,” and that stories that try to meet this goal are ethical. In the case with posting Rihanna’s picture, I think TMZ crossed a line they should have not crossed. They did not help did not help to create this “humane, meaningful society in which all people can live safely and with dignity” because Rihanna’s privacy was infringed upon and posting the picture was unnecessary, and therefore posting the picture was unethical.

  11. In the domestic violence case between Chris Brown and Rihanna I absolutely feel that journalists over stepped their boundaries. Entertainment magazines, shows, and blogs are extremely popular constantly seeking to break the most current most scandalous stories about celebrities. However I believe publishing police photos of Rihanna’s battered face is highly unethical. This story is a perfect example of social responsibility theory; journalists should be instilled with moral and ethical standards. The leaking of this photo can lead to serious detrimental effects. It can cause problems with the trial, make it hard to find an unbiased jury, and Chris Brown has been repeatedly named the assaulter in spite of the fact he has yet to be put on trial or convicted. Virginia tech is another great example of the dilemma between social responsibility and reporting news and gaining ratings.

  12. In a perfect world, I think the right thing to do when any type of crisis or news worthy event occurs, is to obviously, out of respect, give the party at risk/harm privacy. I don't believe this will ever happen because the big news enterprises, are looking for 1 thing only: ratings. If a disturbing photo or video gets leaked somehow, there is no stopping it. Once one news channel shows it, the rest have to in order to compete. From experience interning at NBC 30, I know that without video or pictures, a news story is worth nothing. Whether you are promoting the 10:00 news, or reviewing the news rundown, video and sound is what the people want to see. In the example of the Rhianna photo that was leaked, I think that picture just made a lot of people realize how bad that situation was, and it was something that words couldn't really describe. Whether that picture was the actual truth or photoshopped, I think it effected women especially, and maybe hit home to some people to make them realize the seriousness of the issue of domestic violence. In that aspect I suppose it is positive, but no one wants a devasting photo displayed like that. It's not fair to Rhianna or her family though.

    In discussion of the Virgina Tech tragedy in "Mass Communication Theory", I agree with what Janelle said whwen bringing up ABC's Paul Slavin's comment because it does hold a lot of truth. Particularly for a college student, no one can imagine this happening to their school. I think we were freaked out enough already, that a video can just go over the top. Although NBC did show two minutes of video, I think News president Steve Capus made a good point. He stated, "However uncomfortable it is, it proves this was journalism. This was news and a material advance in the story (Baron and Davis 95). He went on to say that not only was it good journalism, but the decision of the amount NBC showed was "good journalism" (Baron and Davis 95). I really agree with this statement. I think the news in general has avery important job to keep us up to date on the latest on developing stories, but not to go over the line. Imagine how a mother who lost their daughter at this shooting would have felt when they saw the full video or every photograhy the young man sent in. I think NBC made a very good ethical decision in what they did. The audience knew the extent of what this man sent in, and just knowing that I think was enough.

    Meagan Finnegan

  13. When discussing the social responsibility theory and the media industry today it is often hard to find answers. Sure, the public often assumes that those people that are delivering our news are ethical, moral and driven by the truth. I am the first to admit that consistently assume anything that is see on TV, especially in a news report, is true. But is it always? No. Is everything I read true? No. Due to the massive increase and development of technology, media has taken a new role in the life of not only an audience but also a journalist.
    In using the Rihannia/Chris Brown situation as a starting point, the pictures of Rihanna’s face were released and I admit I was one of the first to log onto to see them. I was interested. And I admit that I didn’t care how the source got them. I didn’t even think about the process of getting them could be unethical until Janelle and this blog mentioned it. But in all honestly, I don’t really care. My point is this: if I want news, or information, I am going to search for it. Not wait for it. And whether the way the news gets to me is ethical or not I could care less about as long as I get my information.
    The question then becomes this. If audiences don’t care about the ethics of journalists, should journalists still care about the ethics of themselves. I think I would answer yes to this question although it seems incredibly hypocritical. Baran and Davis state that “Instead of demanding that media be free to print or transmit whatever their owners want, social responsibility theory imposes a burden on media practitioners.” Could it be that we are placing a burden on our journalists, by implementaating a double standard that we expect them to uphold their ethics, while we would really appreciate any means to get us news even if it may be unethical? Has the public sunk to a level that we just want news, and need to know what is going on, that any source will do?

  14. Nick Sardone-

    Social responsibility does become an issue when you look at a news story that involves itself in morality issues . When this happens they are putting themselves right into the mix and are shooting straight information to the public, thus crossing some lines.

    I think the right thing to do when lines are crossed in presenting media or when a news worthy event occurs, is to give privacy to the related parties. Sometimes this crosses into a legal boundary. News media should think about having a certain social responsibility. I think these groups should have more in mind than just making money and presenting news that will cause a commotion, because we all know that what makes money is death, scandal, etc.

    “Should the media do something more than merely distribute whatever content will earn them the greatest profits in the shortest time?” (Baran & Davis 97) I believe this really is a question that should be thought about when it comes to media news outlets. It doesnt seem that people actually mean anything in the news. They don't care who they are hurting, or what they are reporting on, even if it is the very personal. TMZ and Perez Hilton are very guilty of this, not only do they present very personal stories, but comment on them and very much judge the celebrities on a personal level.

    When you think about it this is not a new issue. Since the beginning of journalism, journalists have had more than providing the news on their mind, "Most media professionals cared very little for the niceties of accuracy, objectivity, and public sensitivities." (Baran and Davis, 97) So social responsibility is an issue and always has been. Should something be done about news outlets crossing moral and personal lines? Something should be done, but i think outlets are more concerned with money and fame, so it won't happen

  15. The media is expected to be a self-regulating entity. Though there are certain restrictions put in place by the government that limit the actions of the media, it is up to the executives and journalists alike to determine what kinds of things should and should not be done in the field. Unfortunately, sometimes these professionals are faced with sticky situations- doing what is morally right or catering to their audiences. Too often the second option prevails. Americans have the reputation of being very individualistic and focusing merely on their own wants and desires. Sometimes these wants may come at the expense of others, but overall those in the general public don’t care how another person may be negatively affected by their selfish desires. This can lead to problems- on the one hand, an uninformed public is not a good reflection of a democratic society, but publicizing certain kinds of information may be harmful or damaging to those involved. The media is often involved in this type of situation and must choose what individual/ group will receive the benefit of the doubt.

    In the Rihanna-Chris Brown case, I think TMZ crossed the line in publishing the photo of Rihanna. I understand that it is a provider of “news,” but domestic violence is a sensitive and serious issue that is a disgrace, especially to the victim. Regular citizens who are on the receiving end of this atrocity are typically not publicized and made a spectacle of in the media. But since Rihanna is a celebrity the public believes it has a right to know what is going on with her. The public fails to realize that she is a person just like everyone who is suffering in this situation. This fact, along with the decision of TMZ to publish the photo, are borderline pathetic representations of where our society is today. People are so interested in the lives of others that they feel they are entitled to anything and everything.

    One thing I did find interesting in this photo leak issue was the decision of People magazine not to publish the photo. In its article focusing on the leak, the writer stated “PEOPLE has chosen not to post the picture, due to the nature of the case.” I thought this was a risky yet noble action on behalf of the magazine. It is not very often that a media outlet takes a celebrity’s personal life into consideration when creating its story, and it made me happy to see that there is still a sliver of ethical influence in the media.

    While ideally the media should operate in a marketplace of ideas, which the text defines as “…the notion that all ideas should be put before the public, and the public will choose the best from that ‘marketplace’” (B&D 104), there should be some exceptions to this precedent.

  16. I agree with Marlaina , the idea of social responsibility will always be a topic of controversy. It is very much a double edged sword. Baran and Davis define social responsibility theory as something that “substitutes media industry and public responsibility for total media freedom on the one hand, and for external control on the other” [B&D 98]. People want the media to give them all of the information, but then sometimes they feel like the media is overstepping their boundaries.
    The Chris Brown/Rihanna issue is a good example. I happened to be interning at a Grammy viewing party this year, so I was forced to watch the red carpet and everything else. The correspondent for E! interrupted Ryan Seacrest and came on with “breaking news” that Chris Brown had been arrested. And at that point, his assault was on an “unidentified woman”. As soon as he uttered those words, everyone that I was with wanted to know who the woman was, and what the real reason was for Rihanna missing the awards. So even though the media relayed the information as soon as they received it, we still wanted more. And that’s what we have come to expect from our media. The release of Rihanna’s picture had to be expected. There is no way this picture could exist in the world without somehow being leaked to the press. Even though a lot of people were shocked by it, it’s what people wanted to see, and the media had to respond to that.

  17. I think the Vice President of ABC’s statement about how people are always looking to get extra ratings is very true in the media. But I do feel responsible for it as a viewer and consumer of media. I think that I do expect full coverage of a story in the news, no matter what the topic is about. The limits that I do understand are that of national security but I think myself, like others, even find ourselves wishing we could be given more information just so we know we aren’t missing out on anything.
    The Chris Brown and Rihianna incident is a great example, like Janelle mentioned before. The picture that was leaked out to the news really wasn’t necessary and it is definitely a matter of confidentiality. The person that did leak it out has also made a lot of money though because that was a picture that everyone was searching for. Like I said above, I almost feel responsible for confidentiality problems such as this. Everyone was so into finding out more and more information about this story and being that there was so much questioning about who the female really was, a picture was what everyone wanted to see to believe that it really was Rihianna. Although it becomes an ethical issue of the people who are reporting this information, it also is an issue on behalf of everyone that wants to see these pictures. In my JRN160 class we watched a video about how news reporting has changed in the past years as a career. The reporters were saying how at one point when they first started in that career path, they were working as a public service and it was their duty to give us the news. Now it has become so focused on the money and ratings, that reporters are almost forced to report on stories just so they can get the ratings to keep their jobs.
    In response to the question, would we be satisfied if there were restrictions, the answer would definitely be a no. I think restrictions would cause even more problems because people would feel that they aren’t being told important information and if the media is holding back something from a domestic violence case, imagine what other news it is holding back from the consumers.

  18. I was very glad to see the recent Rihanna/Chris Brown incident was brought up. This is a great current event example that can start a conversation about the social responsibility theory and the media. A lot of great questions were brought up in this blog and I will be addressing a couple.

    Did TMZ cross a line in this story? In any domestic dispute or assault charge, any evidence pertaining to the allegation should be kept confidential. The alleged picture of Rihanna should not be in the public. When TMZ was approached with this tempting picture that would shed more light on the story, the ethical choice they should have made was to not publish the photo. Although theories such as the Fourth Estate believe “the media should continually scan the social world and alert the public to problems” (B&D, 108) this theory should be considered in a case by case basis. I believe that although this story involves famous people, the underlying subject is a lot more serious than celebrity gossip. It should be treated as a private matter, but it is not. TMZ’s final action should have been not running the photos and respect the alleged victim.

    Do we see violence in the news as entertainment? Unfortunately, we do see violence as entertainment. The initial example that came to my mind is the incident on a Greyhound bus going to Canada and a man was beheaded ( Last summer I, and the rest of the nation, paid close attention to this story because it was shocking and suspenseful, like watching a thriller film. You were constantly interested in finding out more about this story, but at the same time hesitant to hear the gory details. In the end, I wondered if it was necessary that the media go into such detail as well as feel it was appropriate to release the radio transmission of police describing the scene (,23739,24120968-954,00.html).

    When these incidences add up I do question whether the media should be regulated. Baron and Davis explain that there are limitations that can lead to recurring problems in media professions (B&D 110). For one, professional standards can be overly abstract and ambiguous (B&D 110). To add to the issue, if there are violations of these already problematic standards it is rare that there is an immediate and direct response (B&D 112). Those media professionals are either poorly held accountable or not held accountable at all.

    Current events such as the Rihanna/Chris Brown altercation will continue their reign in the news. In my opinion, publishers or producers will not be held accountable for releasing private information because by the time the information is out there it is everywhere. Once released to the Internet, everyone has access to it. It is only at that point we must take a look at our own social responsibility and moral standards to decide if we are going to welcome the access to it or turn away.

  19. “But media practitioners are unwilling to set standards for professional training and have strongly resisted efforts to license journalists. They argue that these requirements would inevitable be used by government to control the press”(Baran 111). As long as this is the case there will always be some individuals who will not take into account social responsibility. When it comes to issues such as the Rhianna and Chris Brown situation I feel personally the media has more of a right to publish stories about this personal matter. Both of these individuals are public figures, and therefore media practitioners can practice with less discression. This is a highly sensitive subject. However, if TMZ obtained the picture, then I would expect them to show it. This may not be the most ethical thing, but TMZ is a gossip site! I don’t think TMZ should get any flack for showing the picture, but whoever leaked it in the police department should be punished. It is the police’s jobs to keep people safe and their matters private, it is TMZ’s job to report on celebrities. I hate hearing other media sites, and networks saying that they will not show the picture because they have too much respect for the people involved. I’m sure if these networks/sites got their hands on the picture first they would have defiantly showed it.

    When it comes to other matters such as Virginia tech it is the medias job to report on what happened, but sometimes the coverage can become too in depth and invading private persons privacy and exploiting a tragedy. I think of 911 and the continuous footage of the Twin Towers collapsing from every angle. I think it was the media’s responsibility to report what was happening, but it was irresponsible to show it over and over again. I think there is a big difference between real news that affects average people, and scandals that affect celebrities, and they should be handled accordingly.