ICE blogs

April 27, 2010

Iceland move to become haven of free speech

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 1:19 pm

Since the Icelandic economy imploded in 2008, its citizens have been determined to learn the lessons. And one of the most remarkable responses has been the launch of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (Immi) which aims to make the country a haven for investigative journalists and whistleblowers everywhere.

The official website of the Immi says ‘Because of an economic meltdown in the banking sector, there is a deep sense among the nation that a fundamental change is needed to prevent such events from taking place again.’ The proposal tasks the government with adopting laws that provide strong protection for sources and freedom of expression and information both at home and abroad. As some nations are known as tax havens for their secrecy, the Immi suggests Iceland could be the opposite - a journalism haven known for its openness.

There is considerable support for the initiative from among the country’s 51 MPs and organisations such as Transparency International and Reporters Without Borders. The founders of the whistleblowers’ site, Wikileaks, Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt, advised on the proposal, and preparations for the recent release of the Wikileaks video showing a US army helicopter attack in Iraq were made in Iceland.

Wikileaks also played a crucial role during Iceland’s financial meltdown when a television broadcaster was prevented from revealing creditors in the banking scandal. In response, the broadcaster ran the url for the Wikileaks’ revelation instead.

The Immi proposals also include:
- the introduction of special whistleblower protections;
- protection for the communications between an anonymous source and a media organisation and internally within a media organisation prior to publication (based on the Belgium source protection law of 2005);
- limitations on prior restraint, namely the coercion of a publisher, by a government authority or through the judicial system, to prevent publication of a specific matter.

See:; and

December 28, 2009

Sustainability - not change - the priority

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 3:10 pm

Robert Beckett considers the implications of the recent Copenhagen Climate Change conference for communication ethicists

The recent Copenhagen Climate Change conference - COP 15 - proved a milestone, bringing together 192 nation states to confront a new class of global issues. Two communication insights are now vitally important for the success of the Copenhagen agenda.

Instead of talking about climate change, a single specialised science susceptible to scientific doubt, all communicators need to talk about global sustainability - a label for 40-50 interlinking sciences, or narratives, which together, present a clearer picture of the issues and are far less susceptible to dispute.

The argument is not whether climate change is beyond question, but that a wider variety of global and national economic and natural systems are deeply threatened. There is little scientific doubt that global population is exploding, the ice caps are melting, that many fisheries and forests are reaching a terminal point, or that 25 per cent of the species on earth are threatened by human activity and so on.

If everyone of conscience were to focus not on climate change but on global sustainability we might stop the climate change lobby fixating on a single issue and seeking selective evidence to stop all subsequent change. This problem is connected to another: namely the influence of specialists and lobbyists on a political system that is simply incapable of managing the quantity of information to evaluate and coordinate such a change.

Secondly, to address the complexity of social and environmental issues, all people have to be included in the political process itself, and to make these decisions themselves. The conceit of representative politics (even at Copenhagen level) can be stated with one simple figure. Despite calls for a smaller House of Commons, each British MP, on average, represents 100,000 people. That’s a bigger crowd than fits in Wembley stadium. Imagine one person, standing in the centre of a stadium of such magnitude and saying: ‘I promise to represent your views.’

Every citizen (please let’s not talk of stakeholders, consumers or customers) needs to represent themselves in their own fully operational democratic community. Consider this: no permanent full time government employees, only part time, semi-permanent citizens working for their communities. We’d wipe out unemployment in one go, solve the problem of educating our under-qualified citizens (on-the-job training) and include everybody in the big debates about sustainability (local education, transport, food, clothing and housing taken care of, not by Whitehall, but by the town hall).

The conceit of centralisation is no longer valid, because the technology of our age, the computer, stimulates the opposite effect. We’d expect to recreate coordinating governance at the global, regional, national, sub-regional and local levels, with no extra resources, because the system efficiencies and higher rates of innovation will create a far wealthier system, simply due to the magnified benefits of greater inclusiveness, increased participation, higher education levels, greater capacity for innovation etc.

Cries of socialism will be directed at such a plan, while a response is straightforward. Socialism and capitalism are outdated 19th century labels for larger historic ideas by which to navigate human social and economic action. We need to move beyond labels and to create new communities founded in low consumption of resources, individual and familial well-being and peaceful coexistence between nations and communities guaranteed by transparent and inclusive self-governing technologies and a minimum body of rules.

October 25, 2009

Mair ‘chuffed’ with top Coventry award

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 5:04 pm

John Mair, a member of both the Ethical Space editorial board and the executive group of ICE, has been awarded the Cecil Angel Cup, the most prestigious award by Coventry University. The cup is awarded annually to university staff or students for a significant contribution to the development and/or well being of the university and the wider community, and/or significant enhancement of its reputation.

It is to be presented at the graduation ceremony on 23 November 2009 by Vice-Chancellor Madeleine Atkins. John Mair, an associate senior lecturer in journalism and a former TV producer, invented the Coventry Conversations, weekly talks with and by media movers and shakers, four years go when he joined Coventry University.

Since then, there have been more than 160, including six Coventry Cathedral lectures. The cast who have come to Coventry is stellar and has ranged from the Director General of the BBC to famous TV faces to Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy award winners. Live audiences have ranged from 20-300 but most of the reputation is garnered on the internet where some conversations on itunesU ( attract up to 2,000 downloads a day. The university podcasts ( also attract hundreds of downloads. Some are also on YouTube where one has been downloaded 7000 times.

Mair said in response to the news of the prize: ‘I am very very chuffed to get this cup. It makes it all worthwhile. The conversations are a triumph because of 30 years of contacts, hard work, dogged determination and because they hit a seam of public curiosity. At times, it has been like pushing water uphill but with sterling support from the highest echelons of the university, I have made it. They will thrive and continue. Thank you to all big and small who have helped them to germinate, gestate and mature. Onwards and upwards.’

  • For more information contact John Mair at

September 4, 2009

ethics conference in China

An interesting conference coming up on ethics and intercultural communication (with a focus, I think, on western misunderstandings of China), at one of China’s top journalism schools, Wuhan University.

Date: 9-10 December 2009. Details in the attached.

June 24, 2009

Call for abstracts: The annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics

‘I’m an ethicist…get me out of here’: Communication, celebrity and conscience in a global media age

The annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics

When: Wednesday October 28, 2009 10 am-1 pm Where: Start Up Cafe, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5SB All welcome!

Call for abstracts

The conference aims to explore the many ethical issues facing communication professionals and academics in the global media age.

Thus papers may wish to examine some of the following questions:

  • Can we speak meaningfully of global ethical communication standards?
  • To what extent is the concept of global public sphere/s useful in understanding contemporary communication issues?
  • What are the ethical dilemmas (for both journalists and citizens) associated with the now globalised social networking sites?
  • Does the politics of celebrity culture serve to marginalise more significant issues and perspectives (thus contributing to the ‘dumbing down’ of the media and the rise of ‘churnalism’)?
  • Can the contradictions within the celebrity culture be explored for progressive purposes: for instance, can issues relating to racism, sexism, disability and class be explored in Reality TV programmes?
  • To what extent does celebrity coverage reinforce a culture of cruelty?
  • To what extent has the celebrity culture invaded the world of politics?

In addition papers may wish to focus on:

  • Case studies of celebrity coverage and manufacture eg Jade Goody, David Beckham; Piers Morgan, Simon Cowell; Britney Spears, Madonna
  • The globalisation of the celebrity culture: within hours of appearing on Britain’s got talent Susan Boyle became a global superstar - thanks to YouTube.
  • Comparative case studies - celebrity coverage in contrasting cultures (eg Nigeria and the US)
  • Comparative case studies of PR promotion in contrasting cultures

Abstracts of 200 words should be sent to Prof Richard Lance Keeble at by September 14, 2009. Feedback following peer review will be given back within 10 days. Selected contributions will appear in a future edition of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics (

Attendance at the conference will cost £55. Please send cheques payable to ‘Institute of Communication Ethics’ c/o Fiona Thompson, Faculty of Media, Business & Marketing, Leeds Trinity & All Saints, Brownberrie Lane, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 5HD.

The ICE conference will be followed by the major international ‘Is world journalism in crisis’ conference, in the Humber Theatre, Coventry University 2-5 pm

March 20, 2008

SBS’s ’skewed’ reporting of government intervention in Aboriginal communities

Filed under: Uncategorized — news_editor @ 3:01 am

Press release from Aboriginal Rights Coalition:

Media release 19/3/08 – for immediate release

SBS ‘Insight’ programme silences Aboriginal dissent

Last night, March 18, the SBS Insight programme entitled ‘Are They
Safer’, about the Northern Territory intervention, went to air. Several
Aboriginal representatives from affected communities in the NT have
expressed dissatisfaction with selection process for the show and the
way that dialogue was framed by the programme.

Initially, Insight planned to film in Alice Springs. Following
arrangements being made by people from numerous ‘prescribed’ areas to
attend the show, the producers moved filming to Sydney.

After doing extensive interviews with Barbara and Walter Shaw from Mt
Nancy town camp, Insight refused to guarantee them a spot on the
program. Only after consistent lobbying by supporters was Barbara
allowed to attend, but Walter was told there was no space.

In contrast, four representatives were selected from Hermannsberg
community near Alice Springs. Hermannsberg is unique in that, unlike
many of the ‘prescribed’ communities, it supports the intervention. It
is also one of the few NT communities to support the Country Liberal
Party, whereas the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal people in the
NT voted Labor in the last election.

“I think it was unfair that there wasn’t a lot of people from the
communities and they just had hand-picked people,” said Barbara Shaw ,
who appeared on the programme. “I just didn’t agree with the show or
the way they went about it.”

Barbara Shaw also disputed the representativeness of the selected
Aboriginal speakers, saying that there is an issue amongst Aboriginal
people of urban Aboriginal people speaking for those from remote
communities. “I get permission from the remote communities to talk on
their behalf,” she said.

In contrast to the views of a “former resident of Yuendumu” who spoke
in favour of the intervention, the Yuendumu community have been united
in vehement opposition. The president of the Community Council Harry
Nelson led a delegation from Yuendumu to protest in Canberra on
February 12, calling for repeal of the Emergency Response legislation.

“Whilst we welcome Insight looking at the issue, the basis on which
they pursued the issue was skewed in favour of the intervention,” said
Greg Eatock of the National Aboriginal Alliance and the Aboriginal
Rights Coalition, who also appeared on the programme.

“There were no questions from the presenter about many of the punitive
aspects of the intervention which affected people have described as
racist, such as compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land and the
installation of ‘business managers’ with extraordinary powers”.

Five other Aboriginal members of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition were
told they would be allowed to appear in the audience of the programme,
but had the invitations withdrawn the night before filming.

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition is continuing to call for the repeal
of the legislation. The new paternalism seen through intervention
measures can’t replace the desperate need for funding of Aboriginal
services on the ground. ARC is working with affected communities to
organise a national day of action on June 21.

For more info contact:

Barbara Shaw 0401291166
Greg Eatock 0432050240


For supporters:

We would like to encourage you to share your views with SBS. You can
ring toll Free 1800 500 727 (Nationwide) or send your comments to:

Director Content (Television and Online)
SBS, Locked Bag 028
Crows Nest, NSW 1585

or fax (02) 9430 3047

The ‘Insight’ website has a comments page at:

Many thanks,
Aboriginal Rights Coalition

March 19, 2008

Euro seminars

Filed under: Uncategorized, seminars — icetemp @ 10:02 am

3 Specialised European Seminars

The cycle of seminars allows all the actors concerned in the partner countries of EUROMEDUC, and more generally throughout Europe, to participate in an exchange, comparison and evaluation work. At the methodological level, each seminar will be prepared and animated by a group of representative experts at the European level in close partnership with the existing structural networks in the sector (Euromedialiteracy and Mentor). Each group of experts will represent the different fields concerned: lifelong learning, initial training for teachers, research and media production.

Each seminar will start with a synthesis of the European studies and programmes related to the issue and will lead to the publication of a public report. They will each bring together a maximum of 40 participants selected for their expertise and their involvement in the issue concerned. A system of grant allows a small number of representatives of small structures or practitioners from other countries to participate in this work.

All information at:

European Congress in Bellaria, Italy (13-16 May 2009)

The results of the three seminars will be reinforced at a European conference on media education. This three-day conference is important for real exchanges and the elaboration of transversal projects.

All information at:

March 10, 2008

Conference on moving Australia towards a cosmopolitan society

Filed under: Uncategorized, News, Headlines, media policy, politics, conferences, human rights — news_editor @ 2:36 am

The 4Rs conference, to be held in Sydney on Sept 30 - Oct 2, frames Australia’s future as a cosmopolitan civil society. Focused on the themes of rights. responsibilities, reconciliation and respect, it explores the internal debates and the relationships between crucial social, political and cultural questions, with their relevance to public policy, community development and societal cohesion.
The conference is organised by the Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies, University of Technology Sydney , SAVE Australia Inc, the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the Institute for Cultural Diversity at a critical time for Australia, when the opportunities and desire for change abound, yet older fears still persist.
The conference is designed around the four themes and their interaction- human rights, Indigenous advancement, inter-communal relations, and active citizenship.


Australia remains the only Western democracy without a national human rights framework, yet it is a society in which the struggle for rights has been a central part of history - for Indigenous people, women, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities and those involved in same-sex relationships. The Rights stream (R1) invites contributions that discuss global, national and local concerns across the full range of human rights issues, from the initial engagement with political rights, through social and cultural rights, to the most recent questions raised by action on disability and indigenous rights. It encourages philosophical as well as political and legal approaches. It explores the practical politics of achieving a national human rights framework within the international community.


Wherever colonial powers have settled their populations on the lands of indigenous peoples there have been ongoing crises and conflicts. Reconciliation (R2) seeks to understand the truth of those histories and devise ways through which people from both indigenous and immigrant origins can work and live together in a shared society. Australia has faced a particularly difficult period as it has struggled with both symbolic and practical forms through which reconciliation should be advanced.

The reconciliation stream invites contributions that explore the challenges, success and failures in reconciliation across the world, and the specific dimensions of reconciliation in Australia. It welcomes community presentations, and joint presentations between scholars, policy groups and Indigenous activists. It particularly looks towards younger people and their perspectives on future directions for reconciliation.


In the often-heated conversations about relations between ethno-religious communities in pluralist societies, in the past framed by ideas about multiculturalism and tolerance, a key concept is that of respect. Respect (R3) requires recognition of the validity of different approaches to everyday life, and a desire to understand those differences. Respect is multi-directional; it calls on all members of a society to recognise the value of all other communities. In democratic societies it also points to the critical role of respect for individual human rights even though at times this may strain inter-group relations. Australia has experienced serious challenges to the place of respect in societal discussions about diversity, as have many other western societies.

The respect stream invites contributions that explore the tensions around the idea of respect, its representation, and its presence or absence in the discourse of difference globally and in Australia. It welcomes collaborative presentations that explore either comparative cases or innovations in community, arts and other practices in which respect is mobilised as a positive value.


Societies are made up of reciprocal relationships of responsibilities, in which various benefits are received and various obligations incurred. Citizenship, both political and cultural, provides the context in which debates about responsibilities most often occur. This Responsibilities theme (R4) addresses the debates about citizenship and how these have been affected by the transformations in world society in the current generation. Citizenship has been considered as a purely political question, relating to the legal status of individuals in their relations to nation states. It has also reflected broader concerns with social citizenship, active citizenship and cultural citizenship, where the broad range of human rights are considered to be part of the dynamics of citizenship. It explores the responsibilities citizens have for each other, for the well-being and protection of the state, and the responsibilities the state has for the well-being and freedoms of its citizens.

The responsibilities theme invites contributions that explore these multiple meanings of citizenship, and that can expose connections to the other themes of the conference. In particular it invites debates regarding the imposition of various tests for citizenship and what they reveal about the status of the citizen in the contemporary world.

Cross Theme proposals

This track supports innovative approaches to issues that bridge more than one theme, and involve participants from differing backgrounds and perspectives. It can also provide a location for arts-based presentations, performances and workshops.

Andrew Jakubowicz
Conference Convenor
Maqsood Alshams
Conference Secretary


December 12, 2007

Why unethical conduct needs to be challenged

Filed under: Uncategorized, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:26 am

Unethical conduct in organizations needs to be challenged, the Rev. Dr John Strain told the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics at Leeds Trinity and All Saints.

He said: ‘I am not thinking so much of encouraging whistle-blowing: going outside the organization with complaints of bad practice. Provision for whistle-blowing is important to address the failure of organizations to address serious breakdowns in ethics. I am thinking of something more prosaic: the encouragement of ethical critique within the normal life of the organization.’

Dr Strain, of the Centre for Applied and Professional Ethics, Surrey University, saw personal ethics less as conformance to books of rules, codes of conduct or even manuals of good practice but more about ‘learning about how we should behave in different circumstances we face in organizations’.

He continued: ‘It was Aristotle who taught us 23 centuries ago that the pursuit of virtue stresses the formation of ourselves as human beings, as being in relationships with others and in a persistent pursuit of the mean in our behaviour, being neither too generous nor too abstemious with the truth. It is an approach to ethics rooted in an understanding of human well-being as experienced rather than in a commitment to a set of foundationalist moral principles of the sort Kant sought to articulate through analysis of moral propositions and which lack sensitivity to the reality of human well-being.’

The conference was unusual in taking a ‘cafe’ theme with speakers only presenting for ten minutes, the next 50 minutes being taken up with relaxed, round-table discussions. In another presentation, Di Drummond, of Leeds Trinity and All Saints, examined the reporting of the Kosovo crisis in 1999. Johanna Fawkes, of the ICE executive group, applied a Jungian approach to her analysis of PR ethics theories. Gitte Meyer, of Copenhagen Business School, explored a range of ideas relating to diversity in journalism. And John Poulter, of Leeds Trinity, opened the conference with a brief and extremely thought-provoking talk on ‘The challenges of conceptualizing diversity’.

‘Disturbing’ trend towards secrecy in Canada

Filed under: Uncategorized, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:21 am

A nation-wide study of freedom of information by the Canadian Newspaper Association has found a ‘disturbing’ trend towards excessive secrecy by public bodies. The CNA sent 60 journalists from 39 newspapers to hospitals, police headquarters and other public institutions. Requests over basic issues such as health spending and crime were rejected in 31 per cent of cases or answered only after lengthy delays or payment of large fees. Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the CNA, told a news conference in Toronto: ‘Governments cannot be held accountable when freedom-of-information laws are flouted. We’re talking about a fundamental democratic right.’
In 2005, the CNA filed a complaint over discriminatory government practices in managing media requests under the Access to Information Act. Kothawala said: ‘Two years ago we presented evidence to the Office of the Information Minister that government officials had a policy of “amber-lighting” or “red-flagging” so-called “sensitive” requests, and that media requests tended to get flagged in this way, resulting in illegitimate processing delays and high rates of refusal. Instead of looking at that evidence, the Information Commissioner’s Office surveyed government departments on their processes. It’s like interviewing all the suspects at a crime scene, without taking statements from the victims.’

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