ICE blogs

July 26, 2009

ES editorial reproduced in top US journal

The editorial in Ethical Space Vol 6, No 1 on “Deep Throat and the ethics of scandal coverage” has been reproduced in the latest issue of the prestigious, Boston-based journal Media Ethics. Joint editor Richard Lance Keeble argued that the revelation by Mark Felt, FBI deputy associate director, that he was, in fact, the “Deep Throat” whistleblower of Watergate fame exposed many of the dominant myths about investigative reporting.

In effect, the Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, were exploited by a disgruntled FBI chief in his plot against the US President. “The FBI attacks on Nixon amounted to a massive news story - but the Washington Post never reported it.”

The issue of Media Ethics also carries a critique of the recent coverage of Somalia in the UK’s corporate media by Richard Keeble. Most of the reporting has focused on pirate attacks on Western shipping. Somalia currently faces one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters - yet this has been largely ignored, Keeble argues.

On the front page, Jane B. Singer calls for moderation when newspapers moderate blog comments while elsewhere Russell Frank examines the coverage of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

July 6, 2009

Focus on common good in BBC Reith Lectures

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:34 pm

Robert Beckett assesses the recent, important series of BBC Reith lectures given by Professor Michael Sandel


Professor Michael Sandel, of Harvard University, has completed a series of four Reith Lectures in the UK and USA. The four prestigious events can be viewed, or listened to, through the BBC website (link below), which offers both podcasts and printed transcriptions. In his lecture series, Michael Sandel proposes a set of themes which have much in common with those held important in communication ethics. These themes include ‘genetics and morality’, ‘morality and politics’, ‘markets and morals’, concluding with a presentation on ‘a new politics of the common good’.


Michael Sandel, in his final lecture, argues that the repatriation of ethics is a task of civic engagement, a Habermasian insight, while he argues cogently that market mechanisms are not able to fulfil or displace this task of civic engagement in politics. Unfortunately, he does not call on an entire catalogue of postmodern ethical discourse that suggests how market rationalism based on individualism is put into question by new understandings across many domains of knowledge.


In the physical sciences, the science of inter-connections, of chaos and nano-technology suggests a far more dynamic picture of a physical universe than simplistic models of perfect information and rational demand. In the face of social or economic complexity, it might be asked, how do you select options if you don’t have feedback that is sensitive to all the aggregates? Likewise, constructionist and poststructuralist ethical insights suggest a quality of human perception founded in interdependence, shared cultural traditions and perceptions that express far more than economic competition and rationalism.


Language which appears as the essential means to engage with our shared reality also contains many social, ethical and moral traditions that economics, as it is presently constituted, does not address. The value of human life is Michael Sandel’s example. One reading of Michael Sandel’s plea is that to comprehend the massive complexity of postmodern lives, people require a communication of ethics that can deal with economics as one domain of human experience, and certainly not the critical or primary domain, unless that is agreed after the type of engagement that Sandel demands. Sandel, it appears, could use communication ethics to support his vision for a renewed public engagement.


UN Declaration highlights culture as driving force for human development

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:28 pm

Robert Beckett celebrates the recent passing of a UN Declaration which promotes a vision for a revived humanity working together to overcome nation-state self-interest and for a sustainable economic future


Some moments our fragile world appears on a collision course with catastrophe. Other times the light shines a little more brightly. The results of the recent G192, meeting in New York city suggest a reaction of the second order.


The G192, has finally, it seems, become the representative body of the United Nations, constitutionally giving voice to the 192 signatory countries to the UN Charter - that is, all of the world’s undisputed nation-states; with only the appallingly treated Palestine admitted to the meeting as an honourable observer in this latter class.


The post-conference resolution of this first ever G192 meeting, emerged on 24 June, and is not only a response to the financial crisis, which it was billed as being, but uniquely appears as a statement of intention by the world’s governments to address future global economic development. This is the first time, at least since 1944 when 44 countries signed the Bretton Woods agreement, that the UN’s entire membership have unanimously approved such a statement.


In their Declaration, the current crisis is not, thankfully, reduced to a mere restitution of economic goals, or status quo ante calls for stability. No, the breath and scope of the Declaration certainly moves closer the tighter regulation of global economic agencies and institutions, while in addition, suggesting a more meaningful engagement with the big questions that increasingly face every nation-state. The failure of a free-market model of world-trade to successfully deal with poverty even in the developed nations, the inherent instability of an economics founded in over-consumption and amoral competition, the myriad and civilization threatening issues of environmental degradation.


The Declaration suggests a new vision founded in familiar assumptions of an information age; culture as a driving force for human development, values of cooperation driven by ethics and of widespread social innovation that emphasise sustainable communities, connected to global indices for individual well-being. The final Declaration advances a vision for a revived humanity working together to overcome nation-state self-interest and to move the planet’s people towards a new stage of sustainable economic cooperation.


In short, the Declaration gives us hope for the future wellbeing of our beautiful shared planet. And epitomises the shared task of moral renewal that so many now hope for, yet scarcely dare believe.


Clifford Christians nominated by ICE for Global Dialogue Prize 2009

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:16 pm


ICE has nominated Professor Clifford Christians, one of its founding members, to the prestigious new Global Dialogue Prize, offered by Aarhus University, Denmark, and backed by a consortium of Danish organisations.


The prize is linked to a series of five international conferences to promote a dialogue on intercultural values, undoubtedly the critical theme of Clifford Christians’ work since the 1990s. The prize will be awarded at the Aarhus University-sponsored Global Dialogue conference, ‘Climate Change as Challenge for Intercultural Inquiry on Values’, to be held 3-6 November 2009. ICE members are encouraged to apply to join the conference at the link below.


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