Some student views on ethical fault lines

Te Waha Nui Online – AUT

My colleague, Associate Professor David Robie, has posted some interesting student work on ethical dilemmas on the Te Waha Nui website.The commentaries are from an assignment set in the AUT journalism paper Public Affairs Reporting.
Students have tackled some interesting topics:

  • When pictures may be lying: Adnan Hajj digitally altered a dramatic photo of destruction in Beirut during last year’s attacks by Israeli jets. He added extra smoke to a picture, but the crudeness of the digital manipulation meant he got caught – by bloggers.

  • Celebrity in the media: The death of Anna Nicole Smith and images of her body being manhandled into an ambulance created a media feeding frenzy that resembled the world-wide reaction to the death of Princess Diana in 1996. Why are we so fascinated with the horribly delicious aspects of celebrity drug and booze scandals?

  • Mental health and media responsibility: When privacy and the public’s right to know collide there’s always heated debate. But where is the line in the sand when the media’s exposure of a mental health patient’s work history causes him to be sacked from a job he loves?

  • Cash-for-comment Kiwi-style: If a journalist receives a grant to produce a series of stories, is their independence compromised? Does this blur the line between public relations and journalism?

  • Bloody Mary: How an episode of South Park has upset New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops and stirred the free speech debate.

Congratulations to Spike, Sarah G, Charlotte, Pricscilla, Eleanor, Todd and Sarah L.
It’s good to see that journalism students don’t lose their sense of ethics and their idealism when confronted with some of the less seemly aspects of their chosen profession. Let’s hope that as the new generation comes into its own in the newsrooms of the future that these lessons are not forgotten.

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