9: Ethics in the Media Economy

We’ll discuss three cases this week. In addition to study the cases and be ready to discuss them, please think about any incidents where you had doubts about whether what you did was ethical or not, and bring them to the class. We will have an open discussion in class.

The first case is an episode on This American Life called “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” and its following episode “Retraction.”

This American Life adapted the stage show “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” by monologist Mike Daisey for an episode of their program. Later, they produced another show “Retraction” on 16 March 2012 after problems with Daisey’s account emerged. Retraction explores the problems in the original show. Listen to the full podcast on the TAL site www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction.

Mike Daisey responded in two blog posts:
http://mikedaisey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/statement-on-tal.html http://mikedaisey.blogspot.com/2012/03/reports-of-my-death-have-been-greatly.html

For an overview of the controversy, see Ethan Zukerman’s The Passion of Mike Daisey: Journalism, Storytelling and the Ethics of Attention:


For a critical assessment of the controversy, read Playing the Pain Card: The Retraction of Ira Glass


The second case is a group project called “Another Crimea” produced by a group of photographers from Magnum, Noor and VII. Go through the website and take a look at the work.

The work was soon questioned by a group of photographers from Ukraine and Russia about its objectivity, its transparency about its sources of funding, and the agenda of the funder. Read “Whose Crimea: Photographers Are Divided on Another Crimea Project” to see the divided views on the project.


The third case is a series scandal of a young photographer Souvid Datta. We will talk about his plagiarism, but more importantly, we will discuss the ethics and responsibility of reporting on vulnerable groups. Read these two articles to get an understanding of what happened. Please pay special attention to Robert Godden’s arguments about what justifies exposing a child’s identity in extreme situations in the end of NPR’s article.




If you’re interested to hear more discussion on this case, you can listen to this podcast hosted by our very own Sharron–