ICE blogs

December 19, 2007

Portuguese journalist wins award for anti-discrimination journalism

Filed under: journalism — news_editor @ 11:43 pm

The European Union has awarded its first award ‘For Diversity, against Discrimination’ to a Portuguese journalist who writes about the discrimination faced by migrant workers in the Netherlands.

The aim is to honour journalists who help foster, through their writing, a better understanding of the benefits of diversity and who encourage readers to consider more closely issues of discrimination and inequality.

The winning article, ‘Portugueses alimentam nova escravatura da Europa’ [Portuguese contribute to a new kind of slavery], was written by the Portuguese journalist Maria do Céu Neves, who works for the newspaper Diario de Noticias. It looks at the issue of discrimination in the labour market, particularly from the point of view of Portuguese and Polish migrant workers in the Netherlands.

More at

Bigger and better…

Filed under: media policy — news_editor @ 11:33 pm

The International Herald Tribune reports that the US Federal Communications Commission has made a major change in policy. Broadcasters in the largest markets will now be able to own a newspaper as well. The decision, supported it seems by the White House but opposed by Congress, is, according to the paper, partly a response to the declining profits of newspaper companies in the US.

December 12, 2007

Agreement on food ads aimed at children

Filed under: advertising ethics — news_editor @ 8:55 pm

The International Herald Tribune reports that the majority of large food and drinks makers in Europe have agreed to stop targeting ads for poor quality food at children under the age of 12. The voluntary agreement, after pressure from the EU, covers print, television and Internet ads. The companies - including Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, Burger King, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Ferrero and Unilever - have not yet detailed what quality food means, but are talking of nutritional criteria which they will develop before the agreement comes into force at the end of 2008. They have also agreed to limit their promotional efforts in schools.

Website ‘gave too much detail on suicide’

Filed under: News, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:31 am

The UK Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint against a website shared by the Wigan Evening Post, Wigan Observer and other weekly local titles, which published ’specific details’ about how a local teacher electrocuted himself. The complainant, the teacher’s wife, considered the reporting was particularly irresponsible given that it might adversely affect children taught by her husband.

This was the first case adjudicated by the PCC since clause 5 of the editors’ Code of Conduct (on intrusion into shock or grief) was expanded last year to state that ‘when reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used’.

TV news ‘dominated by safe sources’

Filed under: News, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:28 am

The news agendas on Australian television channels are becoming more homogenized with greater reliance on predictable and safe sources. This is one of the conclusions of a major study by Gail Phillips and Suellen Tapsall, published as an Australian Journalism Monograph by Griffith University.

Local coverage is declining, stories are tending to be more sensationalist and hard news is giving way to soft news. They argue: ‘The danger is that the tactics aimed at boosting dwindling audiences may, in fact, be actively contributing to audience decline by turning off the core demographics the networks need to ensure long-term survival.’

Comparing coverage in 2001 and 2005, the data showed an increasing trend for action and human interest stories at the expense of public affairs. In 2001, courts, crime and emergencies and disasters took up 38.5 per cent of total news. By 2005, this had risen to 43.06 per cent with crime up from sixth to first place in the ‘total story’ league table.

International news coverage showed the greatest changes. The Anglocentrism of the 2001 data, with almost 40 per cent of all overseas coverage coming from or relating to the US and UK, has been replaced by a more diverse menu influenced by the ‘war on terror’. The more recent data shows only 14.25 per cent of all news originates from the US or UK while ‘terrorism’ dominates the international agenda. Indonesia, which was No. 5 in 2001 was top of the latest league table with 18.7 per cent of all coverage.

  • Australian Television News Trends: First Results from a Longitudinal Study, by Gail Phillips, associate professor in media studies at Murdoch University, and Suellen Tapsall, president of the Journalism Education Association of Australia; ISSN 1440 7922. Full details from Dr Cathy Jenkins.

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’.

Asia-Pacific ethics under the spotlight

Filed under: News, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:23 am

UNESCO will hold a conference on the ethical dimensions of the information society in Hanoi, Vietnam, 16-18 January, 2008. In the fourth in a series of regional meetings, official, civil society and academic representatives from across Asia and the Pacific will gather to:

  • identify and discuss the issues considered priorities for Asia-Pacific region in the field of information and communication
  • raise stakeholders’ awareness of the ethical, legal and socio-economic dimensions of information and communication technologies
  • contribute to the drafting of a UNESCO code of ethics for the use of information and communication technology.

While issues of privacy and appropriate use of ICTs were prominent in Western consultations, matters of government control and access to technology are expected to dominate in Hanoi.

‘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.’

Media companies ‘failing over training’

Filed under: Uncategorized, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:19 am

Media institutions are criticized for failing to support adequately the training and education of journalists in a major new report by Professor Stephan Russ-Mohl, of the European Journalism Observatory.

He cites the decision to close down the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center in the United States. ‘Though it was probably the most successful think-tank, the board of the Freedom Forum, an offspring of America’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett, simply decided to concentrate all its funds on another, perhaps more visible and prestigious project, a huge interactive newspaper museum, the Newseum in Arlington Va.’

In Germany, after a few successful years of funding journalism training, the Bertelsmann Foundation decided to cut resources from the media sector and invest them elsewhere. Elsewhere, Russ-Mohl reports, the Ringier School in Zurich was closed. Similarly, in Berlin, the only mid-career training programme for journalists in the German-speaking world, Journalisten-Weiterbildung, was shut down.

  • See: The economics of journalism and the challenge to improve journalism quality: A research manifesto, by Stephan Russ-Mohl, Studies in Communication Sciences, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2006) pp 189-208. It is published in pamphlet form by the European Journalism Observatory.

Journalists protest over threats to standards

Filed under: Uncategorized, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:14 am

Journalists from all sectors of the media - broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, PR and online - joined in a massive campaign across the UK on 5 November in protest at the cuts in the industry which are seriously threatening standards and jobs.

According to the website ‘Most media companies make big profits but they engage in round after round of cuts to increase their profit margins. Journalists are reduced to a cross between call-centre workers and data processors. Stuck at their desks re-jigging press releases. Who knows what corruption, lies and law-breaking is going on in the corridors of powers. No one has the time to look.’

As part of the day of action, members of the National Union of Journalists, which co-ordinated the campaign, lobbied the Society of Editors’ conference in Manchester and then held a protest meeting at Friends Meeting House.

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