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Suppose you are a reporter in London, England. You are covering a hotly contested general election for parliament. Someone tells you at a social event that there are allegations that John Jones, the Conservative Party leader, has sexually harassed women on his office staff. That “someone” is Jason, a senior election worker for the Labour Party. Jason mentions that a woman in Jones’s office, Martha, has told fellow staffers about his actions. You contact Martha by telephone. She confirms she was sexually harassed by Jones. She hints there may be other victims but refuses to go into detail. Martha says she is considering laying a complaint with the police. “Please don’t use my name,” she asks.
Media ethics, the study and application of the norms of journalism, should confront the most important questions that swirl around contemporary practice.
Today, these normative questions arise from a revolutionary change in journalism and information media in general: the evolution of a digital media that is global in reach, use, and impact. Journalism is now distributed along global, digital networks. Moreover, journalism is created by individuals who are not professional, mainstream journalists. The capacity to publish to a public is now in the hands of anyone with access to the Internet. Professional journalists, who once dominated the media sphere, now share the space with tweeters, bloggers, citizen journalists, and social media users around the world.
The rise of intolerant groups using media to publish images and stories about vulnerable groups creates a special problem for media ethics.
Extremism leads to serious media harm, including unjustifiable profound offence. The more that extreme messages are circulated, the greater likelihood that citizens, frustrated by slow-moving moderate politics, may adopt more extreme “solutions” to complex problems. Dialogic democracy wanes.
The troubles of contemporary media require society-wide initiatives to detox the public sphere, which I call macro-resistance, and a fundamental change in how media ethics is done. In particular, media ethics must incorporate the public into the reformulation of the norms and practices of responsible media in a digital, global world.
Citizens need to take greater responsibility for the quality of the information circulating in their media system. It is no longer plausible to blame only mainstream professional journalists for biases, inaccuracies, and distortions, when almost everyone is both a consumer and a creator of media content on the Internet.
I have argued that media ethics is not antithetical to the freedom to publish. Media ethics recognizes freedom as a necessary condition of a democratic press. Without freedom, a robust journalism cannot exist. Yet media ethics also values how that freedom is used. The last chapter considers one way that media freedom should be used – to promote dialogic democracy. Dialogic democracy is the ultimate aim of responsible news media.
For the most part, media organizations in Western Democracies have justified their freedom and their practices on the grounds that it promotes an informed citizenry for liberal democracy. There are more specific goals, for example, investigating social problems in the inner city, and helping citizens track trends in finance and business. There are also less important goals for journalism, such as entertainment, keeping sports fans up-to-date on their teams, and informing citizens about the latest consumer products. These functions are regarded as sub-goals within the over-arching goal of democracy promotion.
Global media ethics is the study and application of the norms that should guide the responsible use of informational, public media that is now global in content, reach, and impact. Global media ethics is not the empirical study of globalization as a complex phenomenon affecting culture, economics, and communication. It is the analysis of the ethical impact of globalization on news media, whose original codes of ethics were codified about a century ago when journalism was non-digital and non-global.
The discussion of democratic journalism focused on what I called the pro-active norms of journalism – norms that call on journalists to promote certain ideals and social goals.
However, I also said that media ethics contains “restraining” norms that call on journalists to act responsibly when they use their freedom to publish. The power of news media can be abused. Abuse leads to misinformation, erroneous judgments, and harmful consequences for individuals, groups, and countries. Therefore, we can ask: What are the main restraining principles of democratically engaged journalism? One set of principles has to do with avoiding or minimizing media harm, that is, the harm that is caused by publication.
Western news journalism is more than 600 years old, first appearing as newsbooks and one-page broadsides in late sixteenth-century Europe, several decades after Gutenberg’s printing press. The ethics of journalism – debate about journalism’s purpose and practice – began almost immediately. What was this brash new intruder into the highly censored public spheres of England, France, Germany, the lowlands, and beyond? The focus on journalism in the centuries ahead would only intensify, as the press became “the media,” and the media became a global and digital behemoth.
Now revised and containing several new chapters, this book provides a comprehensive set of ethical principles and methods of reasoning for a new era of digital, global media. It describes the turbulent state of media ethics in ordinary language and through clear examples, and provides a pragmatic theory of truth and objectivity for engaged media. Concrete guidelines are articulated for identifying fake news and for reporting responsibly on social media racism, extreme groups, and anti-democratic demagogues, showing how citizens and journalists can work together to detox a polluted public sphere. The book examines global media ethics, where norms guide the reporting of global issues such as climate change and immigration, and considers what constitutes responsible journalism. It will be valuable for both students and practitioners of journalism and media ethics, and can also be used as a citizen's guide for evaluating media reports.
This study provides a morphological and phylogenetic characterization of two novel species of the order Haplosporida (Haplosporidium carcini n. sp., and H. cranc n. sp.) infecting the common shore crab Carcinus maenas collected at one location in Swansea Bay, South Wales, UK. Both parasites were observed in the haemolymph, gills and hepatopancreas. The prevalence of clinical infections (i.e. parasites seen directly in fresh haemolymph preparations) was low, at ~1%, whereas subclinical levels, detected by polymerase chain reaction, were slightly higher at ~2%. Although no spores were found in any of the infected crabs examined histologically (n = 334), the morphology of monokaryotic and dikaryotic unicellular stages of the parasites enabled differentiation between the two new species. Phylogenetic analyses of the new species based on the small subunit (SSU) rDNA gene placed H. cranc in a clade of otherwise uncharacterized environmental sequences from marine samples, and H. carcini in a clade with other crustacean-associated lineages.
Determining infectious cross-transmission events in healthcare settings involves manual surveillance of case clusters by infection control personnel, followed by strain typing of clinical/environmental isolates suspected in said clusters. Recent advances in genomic sequencing and cloud computing now allow for the rapid molecular typing of infecting isolates.
To facilitate rapid recognition of transmission clusters, we aimed to assess infection control surveillance using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of microbial pathogens to identify cross-transmission events for epidemiologic review.
Clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae were obtained prospectively at an academic medical center, from September 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017. Isolate genomes were sequenced, followed by single-nucleotide variant analysis; a cloud-computing platform was used for whole-genome sequence analysis and cluster identification.
Most strains of the 4 studied pathogens were unrelated, and 34 potential transmission clusters were present. The characteristics of the potential clusters were complex and likely not identifiable by traditional surveillance alone. Notably, only 1 cluster had been suspected by routine manual surveillance.
Our work supports the assertion that integration of genomic and clinical epidemiologic data can augment infection control surveillance for both the identification of cross-transmission events and the inclusion of missed and exclusion of misidentified outbreaks (ie, false alarms). The integration of clinical data is essential to prioritize suspect clusters for investigation, and for existing infections, a timely review of both the clinical and WGS results can hold promise to reduce HAIs. A richer understanding of cross-transmission events within healthcare settings will require the expansion of current surveillance approaches.
The Inquisitions post mortem (IPMs) are a truly wonderful source for many different aspects of late medieval countryside and rural life. They have recently been made digitally accessible and interrogatable by the Mapping the Medieval Countryside project, and the first fruits of these developments are presented here. The chapters examine IPMs in connection with the landscape and topography of England, in particular markets and fairs and mills; and consider the utility of proofs of age for everyday life on such topics as the Church, retaining, and the wine trade.
Michael Hicks is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Winchester.
Contributors: Katie A. Clarke, William S. Deller, Paul Dryburgh, Christopher Dyer, Janette Garrett, Michael Hicks, Matthew Holford, Gordon McKelvie, Stephen Mileson, Simon Payling, Matthew Tompkins, Jennifer Ward.