ICE blogs

October 18, 2010

New stress on values by NGOs

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, conferences — news_editor @ 8:53 am

The Common Cause Report (September 2010) produced by five international non-governmental organisations (NGO) is quite ground-breaking, writes Robert Beckett. The scale of membership and operation of NGOs such as Oxfam, WWF (UK), Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of the Earth (FoE), suggests a powerful common agenda which highlights two themes for communication ethics.

The first theme describes how the environment and development movements and their campaigning agendas are being transformed by a critique of the values which underpin factual analysis, rather than remaining stuck in arguments with fixed positions based on facts. Values, the report argues, are used by people to pre-judge matters of fact and therefore, in matters of critical and complex disagreement, it is values that most influence decisions. A second theme identifies how these values are best represented as ‘frames’ that structure the matrix of complex issues which NGOs deal with. These frames can be deconstructed to isolate the underlying moral, social and human values so that better communication can take place.

As leading campaign organisations move to address a moral framing of issues that many communication researchers identify as powerful and motivating, there appears to be a new opportunity. For those interested in discourse analysis, critical theory and social constructionism, to name a few of the communication theories and insights that appear to have gained significant endorsement in this report, the time may be right to link communication ethics with a growing critique, based on values, now shared with the environmental and development movements.

A good first step might be to search for funding currently available through the report sponsors, the Arthur Page Centre for Public Integrity, at Penn State University (see link below).

- The Common Cause Report may be accessed at
- See also

Socialnomics - the way ahead

According to the YouTube presentation ‘Social Media Revolution 2′ (part of a set of short-videos all available at the link below) social networks are the new community, university, service provider, self-generated media and self-programming work-space, writes Robert Beckett.

This video promotes a best-selling book, Socialnomics by Erik Qualman (2009), which describes the phenomenal success of social media. As its thesis, Qualman foresees the decline of print media and the printed text, the end of the author as singular authority and the rise of collaborative networks and actors from the new Y and Z generations. Social networks, particularly Facebook, are phenomenally successful - Facebook would be the 3rd largest country by population after China and India according to Qualman - while the video is more promotional than credible research.

However, there is a good argument promoted here for a new generation of co-creating learners, not only educating themselves with a little help from the occasional good teacher, but also governing themselves, building their own sustainable resources and largely ignoring the limits imposed by old ways of doing almost everything.

With reference to the present education debate in the UK, the latest developments in social media suggest how powerful new learning opportunities should be heeded. New programmes such as ‘edutainment and gaming for life’ (see links) are based on a completely different set of learning assumptions. In ten years time, the whole architecture of education may even be redesigned around technologies that enable distance, virtual and game learning and encourage mass participation. So looking to the future, interestingly, it looks much like many of the communication researchers predicted thirty years ago, somewhere between dystopia and do-it-yourself.

- See;;;;;;;;

Shoddy journalism exposed in polygamy hoax

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:52 am

Jonathan Ryan reports: Journalists on the French weekly magazine Le Point have been caught out in a humiliating hoax. The current issue highlights a series of controversial topics including polygamy. There is one major problem: the victim does not exist. He is, in fact, Abdel, a young French man from Clichy-Sous-Bois, a deprived suburb of Paris!

Abdel had, before this particular report, already put the French media in contact with people within his community. One Friday afternoon, he was contacted by a journalist (used in the loosest possible sense) requesting that he find a bigamist within the community. During his previous contacts, Abdel had met with professional journalists. However, this time the journalist was up against a tight deadline and wanted the story in a hurry.

Abdel decided to see how far the matter could be pushed and found himself in a telephone interview playing himself and Bintou; an imaginary African woman, 32-years-old with eight children, married to a husband with three other wives. To add insult to injury, Abdel videoed himself recording his somewhat Monty Phython-esque performance. Certainly, a valid piece of evidence when you end up as the support for the cover story on one of France’s leading news magazines. To add insult to injury, the journalists described Bintou as having a “pretty face, apart from scarring around the eyes…”

So what was Abdel’s motive for indulging in this supremely effective hoax? In an interview with Arret sur images, a chat show on France’s Channel 5, he said he had been following the actions of certain journalists visiting his community since 2005, and in his words: “I have seen journalists with my own eyes paying for fabricated photographs, and deliberately making up witness statements.”

He had also been sickened by the portrayal of his community by the media. The largely immigrant community of Cliche-sous-Bois had been labelled as “trouble-makers” or “arsonists”. Abdel has most certainly been successful in making his point.


ICE chairman awarded top university prize for second year running

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:50 am

John Mair, chairman of the Institute of Communication Ethics and Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Coventry University, has just won, for the second year running, the university’s most important prize: the Cecil Angel Cup. The award is made to staff or students, either individually or on a group basis, for their significant contribution to the development and/or well being of the university and the wider community, and/or significant enhancement of the reputation of the institution.

Mair won last year with a group for taking part in a very successful student exchange to ZUMC in China. This year he won individually for the Coventry Conversations which he invented .The citation says: ‘It was the panel’s view that your work in respect of the Coventry Conversations series had made a significant contribution to enhancing the reputation of the university and to the student experience, enabling students to engage and learn from successful individuals from within the media and journalism industry.’

The conversations were established around five years ago and since then almost 300 media movers and shakers have come to Coventry to converse. They include the BBC Director General, many famous on screen presenters, Oscar and Bafta winners, distinguished professors such as Richard Lance Keeble, of the University of Lincoln, and some Coventry alumni who have made a success of their careers.

Week after week in term time, household media names appear at the Ellen Terry building in the city centre. Audiences range from 20 to 300 and include a significant number of local people from Coventry. Thousands also download the conversation podcasts ( date, 600,000-plus worldwide have and the conversations have been top of the itunes U Humanities chart.

One estimate puts the free advertising value of the conversations to Coventry University at £1million plus sterling per year. Fifty conversations each year are staged on an annual budget of £2000!

Next year’s Coventry Conversations are already being cast and they include Andy Kershaw, the radio presenter, and Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Identity series of feature films.

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