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Philosophy of Media Ethics - Essay Example

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Philosophy of Media Ethics

I will also seek to dispel the notion that a conflict of interests develops between social science which is based on generalized information and natural sciences which focus on specifics.
Roll-Hansen has argued that while the press is designed to provide independent opinion based on reliable information and well supported knowledge, discrepancy can be created based on political expediency. Hansen has focused on the need for basing reports on, "reliable knowledge" which he implies to be, "strongly confirmed by empirical investigations" and also corroborated by, "other well established knowledge". He also dwells on the need for complete knowledge and basing reports on the whole truth as is expected from witnesses during trials.
In the second part of my exegesis I will dwell on how the specific events denoted by Hansen of acid rain and lifting the ban on whale hunting were not misrepresented by the media but were the result of relative ignorance of implications and that the biases had crept in due to external interests rather than representation of falsehood. Hansen feels that the media does not provide accurate information and tends to support public assumptions. Hansen cites two examples to support this hypothesis. The first is the alarm in Norway based on media reports of extensive damage to forests due to acid rain in Germany and Central Europe with reports of, "yellowing, loss of needles and gradual thinning of the tree crown with death ensuing". This created public alarm of, "forest death". Scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Forest Research (NISK) held that the threat of damage to forests due to acid rain supported by the minister of environment was, "over dramatized" and there was no reason to panic. A press conference organized by the NISK to provide balanced information of the case did not receive much attention as journalists felt it lacked a good story and they were, "disappointed". The danger of acid rain to Norwegian forests thus became firmly entrenched in public opinion. A book, "If Trees could Cry" was published with support from the Norwegian ministry of environment, prefaced by the minister who criticized the role of scientists at the NISK. Evidence that the damage could have occurred due to causes such as drought, untimely frost, fungi and so on was ignored. Public opinion was so strong, that NISK scientists fell silent and some even supported the theory, falling prey to opposition which was proving, "strenuous in the long run and not conducive to procuring economic support". Hansen feels that the journalists themselves were, "caught in bias producing mechanisms" and consistently ignored substantial facts. I feel that this argument over states the case that newspapers can form and sustain public opinion independently.

The second case quoted is that of wide spread condemnation of the Norwegian government for permitting resumption of commercial hunting of minke whales in 1992. The charter of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) denotes that a balance between conservation and interest of the whaling industry should be maintained. The protests arose based on depletion of stocks and a stronger argument as per ...Show more


I do believe that Roll-Hansen has overstated the argument of biases resulting from commercialization of mass media, impinging on its primary function of enlightenment particularly on environmental issues and that political consequence and relativist views of science contribute indirectly to these biases.1 I will base my argument on the fact that in general the power of the media to singularly influence public opinion is over estimated and there are many factors which shape it…
Author : leopold75
Philosophy of Media Ethics essay example
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