Discuss about the Media and Law Ethics.
Media and law ethics is a branch of ethics that is concerned with the relationship that exist between the laws and freedoms of the media profession and the individual responsibilities of media practitioners. (Murray & Moore, 2008) The law stipulates that the media and the media professionals have to act in particular ways towards their and they have particular responsibilities towards the public because of the much impact that that the media has on the public. Any act which is contrary to these requirements is termed as a violation of media law ethics (Prasad, 2008) .This paper is going to analyze the specific issues that are identifiable in the case study involving Vogue magazine, Lena Dunham and Jezebel putting into consideration what their specific actions meant, the ethical codes that were violated and the ethical principle addressed. It will also consider the impact of their actions to the public.
Vogues Action and Lena’s Reply
Vogue is am magazine that is specifically concerned with celebrities. With the influence such as magazine is likely to have due to the significant place that celebrities such as Lena Dunham hold in the society, any story analyzed or any ideals are likely going to be impactful in the society. Their specific action involved focusing on certain ideals in their representation of an ideal image of a celebrity.
The major focus here is the face value .This is generally what happens even in the wider societies where by people have to appear in certain ways that conform to the wider definition of beauty .This predefined beauty standards make it hard for people to be accepted if they have not met the standards. This is ideally the reason behind the distortion of the image of Lena Dunham. Such an action is likely to have a positive impact on the magazine sales because it adheres to the social construction of beauty. However such an action is not morally right because the role of the media is to foster positive impact in the society.
On the contrary therefore it ought to present undistorted images for public consumption, this will most likely encourage acceptance and do away with the notion that a person has to appear in a certain way, have a particular complexion and body shape for them to be referred as beautiful. This will create a positive impact in the society and enable appreciation and acceptance of what makes each woman unique. The media is supposed uphold truthfulness and objectivity as much as possible. This therefore to present the reality as it is without any distortions and offer opinions that are not influenced by their personal feelings and perceptions (Lewis & Crick, n.d.)
The central focus was on Lena Dunham, her appearance on Vogue magazine has been the bone of contention with Jezebel raising issues about Dunham’s distorted image Her, response however deviates from the general issues, she feels that since a fashion magazine is a beauty fantancy, it does not have to express what is real on the contrary she poses questions on why there is so much emphasis on the appearance of the body yet there are other factors such as clothes and paces among other elements that are also prominently features in photos. So to her, the appearance should not be so great an issue of analysis because besides the appearances there are other elements that can be of interest to the consumers such as new fashion trends. She is says that those interested in seeing how she really looks should watch the show that she airs every single week.
Ethics of Digital Manipulation.
Ethics is a set of rules that defines what is morally acceptable and what is not. It is specifically meant to guide behavior .Ethics of digital manipulation is therefore a set of rules’ that are meant to guide the conduct of journalists when they are dealing with digital content (Crook, 2010) Photo manipulation also referred to as Photoshop has been a common practice for a very long time it has been used in certain situations for particular reason. With the rise of modern photo editing software, the prevalence of photo manipulation has been on the rise. Although some people consider this as a norm its incorporation in to the photojournalism practice is considered as a violation of media ethics. These are therefore the ethical codes that guide the media practice as a whole.
Photo manipulation is one of the areas that is addressed in by this ethical code. It requires that media practitioners do not incorporate edited photos into the practice. Because of the fact that it is sometimes hard to detect edited photos; photo manipulation has led to the questioning of integrity of the photojournalism and media as a whole. Regardless of the fact that necessitates the need for manipulation a photo, it is a requirement that it’s a requirement according to media ethics that photos should be presented in their original form without editing because this is also likely to distort the message being communicated by the photo in question.
This is also referred to as image theft. This is the act of taking a photo belonging to another journalist and using it for self advantage (Ess, n.d.). With the rise in the use of technology millions of pictures are available on the internet. This makes it particularly easy for photo theft to take place. Companies may take pictures and use them in their operations; additionally such photos might be taken, then edited and then used for specific activities without the permission of the owners. Various laws give exclusive ownership rights to the authors of these photos. Editing other people photos to be used in our activities is therefore a serious ethical concern.
Distortion of reality is also an n area of concern. Of importance is the fact that the sole purpose is to inform the public .This therefore requires that the information being fed to the public be as objective and real as possible (Pritchard, 2000) .However in this era of digital manipulations, achievement of this has been an issue of great concern. Editing of photos has therefore violated the ethical code of digital media.
An Ethical principle is a standard that when followed promotes the requisite values such as honesty, integrity, truthfulness among other values that are acceptable by the society or which conform to our own perceptions to what is right.
Utilitarianism is an ethical principle that focuses on the impact of an action. It is attributed to John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham In particular it is it views an action to be acceptable when it produces desirable outcome such as happiness on the receiver or the receivers and unacceptable or wrong if it produces the reverse of happiness or if it does not impact positively on the receivers of the action. However the principle also focuses on both the good and the bad produced by a certain action
The efforts of the magazine can therefore be appraised on the basis of this principle. Basically this being a fashion magazine it has a predefined audience that it targets. Its actions can therefore be interpreted as trying to conform to the expectation s of this wider group. The act of editing Lena Dunham’s photos was aimed at appealing to this audience and foster happiness in them. That’s why they had to edit the photos to make them more attractive to the eyes of the public.
According to the theory therefore, all the good and the bad of an act should be addressed and the difference between their consequences used in classifying them as either wrong or right. The act can be classified as wrong or right depending on the side that one wants to explore it. If it is explored on the angle of the proponents of the magazine it can be viewed as right because it conforms to their intentions and what they believe is morally right while if it is explored in the angle in which Jebel views it, it can be said to be morally wrong because it does not conform to her expectations and is not in line with what she believes is morally right.
Since the theory uses intrinsic value to assess the consequence of its actions .Something or an action is considered to be generally good without considering its additional consequences. Using this argument therefore, the action can be considered good because it has an intrinsic value to those behind the action.
In conclusion, vogue’s action can be said to have gone against the requirements of the media practice with special emphasis to a number of ethical obligations that guide media practice. These inform how a media practitioner should conduct themselves in the course of their duties. Digital manipulation is a serious ethical issue that has been on the rise in the modern times especially because of technological advancements Media practitioners especially those dealing with digital are therefore expected to be as objective and truthful as possible to avoid negatively affecting this important filed in the eyes of the public.
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