Communications and Media

Case Study #1 and its Implications

The social implications of the first case study have to do with proliferating terrorism through media coverage. The argument is generally that widely distributing stories about terror attacks does exactly what the terrorists want, and spread terror. There is some validity to this point–whether it be an increase in our terror threat level, or news of bombing on the other side of the world, terrorism by and large depends on the media. The media by nature also indirectly depends on terrorism–bad news sells, but worse news sells better. In addition, there is really no issue of prior restraint at all. She seemed to revel in the graphic nature of her video coverage; however, the Supreme Court has ruled the First Amendment protects “distasteful expression” (Chapter 16, pages 376-377).

I do not see an ethical dilemma here at all. Jane is correct–her job is to report the news, regardless of how horrible. The fact that she relishes in how particularly gory the footage her cameraman obtained is nothing more than a product of capitalism, rather than any ethical dilemma. There is no invasion of privacy issue– neither intrusion, unauthorized release of private information, or creation of false impression does not exist. If there is any ethical dilemma here at all it is based on the system of capitalism, and why it drives people to, as in this case, profit from the death of others. In addition, the reporter was not negligent in any way (Chapter 16, pages 391-393).

Personally I believe very strongly in the First Amendment, so I immediately sided with Jane. The founding fathers were very specific about allowing, and encouraging the freedom of press (page 376). Getting her story to print to possibly improve her career, and therefore her station in life is a responsibility of the media, as well as a perfect example of the American system at work. Her intentions in this case are irrelevant–whether it was to further her own station, or spread the media to the country–because both are relevant to the American system.


(1) Chapter 16, pages 376-380

(2) Chapter 16, pages 391-393