The media and its responsibilities
The recent past has experienced an increase in utilisation of the media in various spheres of life. Arguably, globalisation could be the reason as for the increase in the use of the media by various entities. Use of the media provides an ample ground for profound benefits, particularly in the economic productivity of any particular nation. Precisely, the media, such as the internet harmonises various activities thereby allowing for close monitoring and evaluation of the activities, which in turn facilitates a number of decision-making options for the mutual benefit of different population segments. As such, the media performs a number of roles, particularly in the modern global economy (Biagi 2011), which facilitate attainment of competitive advantages by various societal divisions. However, there exist varied perceptions on the ability of the various media entities to deliver as per the expectations of different societal members. Precisely, ethical issues as well as ethical problems have occurred due to increase dependence of the media by the society. Henceforth, this paper will explore on the ethical issues and problems originating from the utilisation of the media in various societal entities. In addition, the classical theories inclusive of the utilitarian theory, virtue of ethics theory, as well as deontology theory will be utilised in drawing assumptions on how the theorist would have resolved the ethical issues identified.
Amicably, the media encompasses all forms of techniques utilised in order to ensure that information reaches large population segments. Speaking of techniques, they refer to books, televisions, radios, internet and other ways, which foster for information acquisition by various individuals.
Issues resulting from utilisation of the media
As postulated by the social responsibility hypothesis, the media has a major role to play in stabilising the society in various aspects (Torow, 2011). Inadequate utilisation of the media results in ethical problems including societal violence and issues of mistrust on the social media.
a) Societal violence
The media is responsible for informing the society, it has transformed into a system whereby the society has mutual belief on the media in various issues such as decision-making matters. To this purpose, the media can significantly trigger violence in the society in case it reports on an issue that generates varied concerns in the society (Biagi, 2011). Precisely, information originating from the media can be easily be manipulated by various individuals to suit their own interests. At the same time, information from the media can manipulate the population in different ways. As such, the media is an avenue that can generate misinformation, which can lead to unrest in the society.
Precisely, some media entities display and utilise explicit content in their contexts, which manifest in use of vulgar language as well as the reflection of sex and violence. Undeniably, this causes issues of ethical concern in the society as it does not uphold the societal belief on what is morally upright. In addition, the media in the quests of their own interests have evidently utilised stereotypes in its entertainments as well as advertisements (Torow, 2011). Undoubtedly, use stereotyped by the media generates undesirable behaviours in the society and further affect the perception of the people negatively.
Solution to social issues based on classical theories
A solution to social issues created by media could be generated with close utilisation of the utilitarian theory. As such, the utilitarian theory fosters for intense focus on setting up of ethical standards to be followed by various media entities (Braybrooke, 2004). The set ethical standards should aim at improving the society as well as facilitate sustenance of ethical values such as moral beliefs existent in the society. The Utilitarian hypothesis could further offer solution to societal unrest caused by the media as it postulates against allowing uncontrolled dispensation of information and ideologies from the media as this is not considered ethical. For this reason, information and ideologies reported to the public would be closely monitored thus ethically approved media content would reach the society.
The utilitarian hypothesis argues for designation of appropriate course of action in various contexts (Braybrooke, 2004). Therefore, its application in the context of the social media and its responsibility in the society will result in designation of the code of ethics to be followed by different media entities such as journalists. Though this, judgements on media content that is safe and suitable for distribution to the public will be made hence, reducing the chances of creating varied social issues. The code of ethics set based on utilitarianism will bind the media to telling the truth in their reporting’s, without manipulation, which will offer a solution to social issues. Overall, utilisation of the utilitarian hypothesis in a bid to resolve societal issues caused by the media will bestow social responsibility to the media, which will offer ethical principles to be followed by the media in maintaining stability within a societal context.
Comparison to the relativism perspective
Based on my personal opinion, the views of the classical theory of utilitarianism are close to my thoughts since my belief is in a society that is governed by set standards of conduct. Precisely, the resolving of the social issues by utilitarian theorists offers a viable solution as it argues for designation of an appropriate cause of action in a bid to harmonise the media such that is does not cause social issues. My thoughts on solution for social issues caused by the media are aligned to utilitarian views on need for rules that govern the way media content is distributed, as it will likely to allow for excellence in the media sector because choice of media content will be based on a consensus of various persons as opposed to sole individual decisions. However, the relativism perspective is justified based on the fact that some media content considered appropriate by others is appropriate in other societal settings. As an example, some societies consider airing of graphic footages of casualties in battle fields (at war) not appropriate as it triggers negative effects as they perceive them to be horrifying. On the other hand, some societal individuals prefer getting a real picture of the situation as it is in various media reports. Overall, different perceptions exist on what social issues are brought about by the media. Regardless of this, the media should utilise its responsibility to maintaining societal stability by ensuring it dispenses information relevant to the societal setting at hand.
b) Mistrust of the media
Amongst the responsibilities of the media is maintenance of trust among it audiences. Arguably, the media faces mistrusts among various population segments due lack of truth and honesty in a number of media entities such as the internet (Torow, 2011), which allow for misinterpretation in cases where they allow users to use different names, particularly in social networking sites such as twitter. In addition, there is an increase in internet violence and insecurity as the sites are not managed appropriately. The problems with use of social networking site, which is amongst the media entities, further extend to lack of appropriate protection mechanism especially for children who are initiated to explicit content not appropriate for them.
The media is further obliged to dispense information that is of public importance (Biagi, 2011). However, some media use the profession to pursue issues of their own interest. Precisely, the media should take responsibility in keeping the government on its toes as it pursues issues of public interest. Some medial entities have, however, chosen to align their content to suit those of political personalities who constitute the government. This has created mistrust of the media by the public. In addition, the constant focus on emerging issues such as terrorism by the media creates a negative image amongst the public (Torow, 2011). This is because frequent focus on issues including those of terrorism creates publicity for such groups and also promotes their strategies, which gives them an added advantage. This creates mistrust on the media by the public as it depicts the media to be in alliance with such groups, which in most cases it’s not the case.
Solution for the issue of mistrust on the media based on classical theories
The paradigms reflected in the classical theory on deontological ethics would be more suitable in solving the ethical problem of mistrust generated by the media on the society. The deontological perspective provides solutions for an issue based on the existing rules governing various actions (Hooker, 2012). Utilisation of the deontological hypothesis in the case of mistrust on the media will thus generate the recommendable course of action, which would avoid occurrences, which create mistrust on the media. As an example, in the case of mistrust emanating from misinterpretation of individuals in the use of social networking sites, the deontological arguments will establish rules that regulate instances of imp-personification, thereby reducing mistrust on the media due to such instances. Overall, the deontological point of view will provide an avenue whereby conducts by the media, which can result in mistrust will be regulated.
Comparison to the ethical egoism perspective
As per the ethical egoism perspective, an individual’s belief in a concept is based on issues of self-interest (Hales, 2011). As such, the reflection of the media as a non-trustworthy entity may be based on issues of various societal interests. Precisely, if the media pursues or report of issues that contradict to your own interest, there is a likelihood of development of mistrust to the media. This is however not justified since the society we live in is composed of various individuals with varying views on various concepts. Nonetheless, as previously mentioned, the media should focus more on issues of societal interest in order to provide solutions to emerging ethical issues.
In this case, I purpose for deontological hypothesis over the ethical perspective as it provides an ample ground for resolving the ethical problem of mistrust persistent in the media related settings. Undeniably, development of regulations as argued by the deontological theorists will restrict media pursuance of issues of their own interest hence; will focus more on issues of societal interests, which reduce chances of occurrence of mistrust within the society. As an example, the issue of the media dispensing information aligned to political affiliations without considering the issues of public interests will be solved with setting up of regulations that will rule out such misconducts.
Deductively, the media is obliged to stabilising the society by providing adequate solutions on societal issues (Biagi, 2011). Conflicts occur in the societal settings in cases where the media diverges and pursues issues of its own interest. Therefore, for appropriate societal co-existence, there is need to harmonise issues of media interest with those of the society. However, issues of public interest should surpass those of the media. For this purpose, media responsibility of stabilising the society, as postulated by the social responsibility theory, flourishes in cases where issues of public interest come first than other interests.
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