ICE blogs

March 17, 2017

Ethical Space special issue: Call for Papers

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 11:51 am

How do you feel? Ethical challenges in media treatment and representation of vulnerable people

Media reporting of vulnerable people is not a recent phenomenon but it is one that is increasingly dominating the 24/7 news cycle. The tensions involved in covering mass human migration, the Syrian refugee crisis, disasters and trauma, terrorist executions and acts of carnage all pose challenges to the journalist trying to report accurately, sensitively and ethically in extreme circumstances. In addition the use and misuse of social media, the evolving understanding of mental health and the growing acknowledgement of the rights of those involved in stories to have their say all suggest a more equitable and participatory journalism is necessary when reporting on ‘victims’ and the vulnerable.

These emotional and ethical challenges come as the media landscape is changing irrevocably. Traditional news outlets are under pressure to the extent that, although the vulnerable are the subject of stories, their involvement in the process can be minimal. Instead, some journalists are turning to ready-made content generated by citizens on social media. Is this ethical? Is this the way in which journalists should record the lives of vulnerable people? Social media also has had a significant effect on coverage of suicide. The death of actor Robin Williams resulted in some appalling coverage that revealed tensions between control of the media through regulatory systems and professional guidelines and the unregulated world of social media where the audience can access content that the media, when contemplating publication, are required to consider with extreme caution for fear of inciting copycat behaviour amongst vulnerable people.

What exactly do we mean by ‘vulnerable people’? Definitions vary according to different disciplines but one that is apt for media coverage is the Australian Government’s description of vulnerable adults: an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.

Ethics is about taking the right action in difficult circumstances so thinking about vulnerability in ethical terms we should concern ourselves with the concepts of minimizing harm; fair and honest representation; truth and trust; accountability to those in the story, to the audience and to news employers, and independence of action.

We invite journalism scholars and practitioners to present articles that have a theoretical, analytical, critical, methodological and empirical approach which provide significant insights and understandings about the ethical challenges and potential benefits of media reporting of vulnerable people.

Topics authors might want to consider, but should not be limited to, include:
• Hearing the voices of the marginalised
• Approaches to interviewing/not interviewing vulnerable people
• Mental illness, access to the media and the issue of consent.
• Intrusion into grief/privacy versus fair representation
• Media representations of grief, bereavement, mental illness, suicide, disability, ethnic minorities, faith or sexual orientation.
• Using innovative practices to tell vulnerable people’s stories
• The influence of social media
• Engaging the audience in death, trauma and personal vulnerability e.g. overcoming compassion fatigue, including user generated content or offering audience interactivity
• Teaching ethics relating to media reporting of vulnerable people

Submission instructions
Send 200-word abstracts to the guest editors (addresses below) by 1 May 2017. Papers of around 6,000 words will be needed by 1 July. They will then be sent out for peer review. This process should be completed quickly – so final copy should go to the publishers by early August. The issue should appear in mid-September 2017.

Editorial information:
• Guest editor: Sallyanne Duncan, University of Strathclyde,
• Guest editor: Jackie Newton, Liverpool John Moores University,

The Legacy of Mata Hari: Women and Transgression

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, conferences — news_editor @ 11:05 am

A one-day symposium at City, University of London, 28 October 2017

In October 1917, the woman known throughout the globe as Mata Hari was executed on espionage charges by a firing squad at Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris. Born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876) in Leeuwarden, Holland, in 1905, she reinvented herself as the exotic dancer Mata Hari, trading on the fascination with colonial cultures in the fin de siècle. Although history has provided little evidence of her spying, Mata Hari’s French prosecutors condemned her as ‘the greatest female spy the world has ever known’, a vamp, a courtesan and a divorcee who had caused the deaths of 50,000 allied combatants.

On the centenary of her death, this symposium hosted by City, University of London acknowledges Mata Hari’s significance as an icon of feminine seduction, political betrayal and female transgression into male spheres of influence. This multi-national, cross-disciplinary event drawing from history, politics, cultural studies, literary journalism, the visual and performing arts, museum studies, translation studies and feminist studies will bring together biographers, academics, novelists, performers and curators from the Fries Museum. Contributors will address the cultural multiplicity of the anxieties about women in the public sphere that Mata Hari symbolised both during the First World War and as enduring concerns. Speakers will discuss Mata Hari’s legacy in the identification of transgressive women today, especially those in the political sphere and those involved in global or domestic conflicts. Presentations from cultural historians on Mata Hari’s historic influence on dance, cinema and representation of the female body are also welcome.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers or for conference panels on any aspect of Mata Hari and her legacy. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

• Mata Hari’s significance as a female icon during the First World War
• Representations of Mata Hari and female agents in theatre and film from the early 20th century
• Fictional and journalistic representations of female espionage agents
• Literary, cinematic, artistic and journalistic representations of transgressive women
• Representations of the female vamp and the performance of femininities
• The queer transgression of Mata Hari
• Post-colonialism and female erotic performance in the early twentieth century
• Women, war and espionage
• The creation and significance of female icons in the fin de siècle and beyond
• Female transgression and museum studies
• Cultural anxieties about female representation in political and domestic spheres

A publication based on the symposium is envisaged.

Please send proposals (300 words max. plus biographical paragraph of 200 words max.) to Dr Julie Wheelwright ( and Dr Minna Vuohelainen ( no later than 30 May, 2017.

March 2, 2017

Sports Journalism: ethical vacuum or ethical minefield?

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 9:17 am

Institute of Communication Ethics Annual Conference

27 October 2017, Frontline Club, London W2 1QJ


Sports content is a crucial aspect of many media organisations’ output. But while the ethical issues surrounding news journalism are closely scrutinised, the ethical dilemmas facing sports journalism are often neglected, or even unacknowledged. Issues of media regulation remain highly contentious in the UK, but how does sports output and the conduct of sports journalism departments fit into this debate? Is the balance of power between sports journalists and sports media relations executives shifting decisively in favour of the latter? How have sports journalists responded to the issues arising from the digital revolution?

The conference aims to provide a space for analysis and discussion on the varied ethical issues confronting sports journalists. Topics might then include:

* Too cosy a relationship? Sports journalists and sports PR managers

* Does sports journalism need a separate industry code?

* Taking the (click)bait: are website visitor targets undermining high-quality sports journalism?

* Covering diversity in sports – issues of representation in sports coverage

* Using social media as a sports journalist: the ethical issues

* Sports journalism and ‘entrapment’: the ethical issues involved in an undercover investigation

* Branded content – is it in danger of killing independent sports journalism?

* “Fans with typewriters”. How prepared are sports journalists to cover ‘hard’ news on top of the regular diet of press conferences and matches?

* How should ethics and regulation be taught to sports journalists, both in industry and on training courses?

* Fan sites: when citizen sports journos challenge the news values of corporate media’s sports coverage

* Sports celebrities – and the ‘human interest’ bias of the media

* Local sports coverage – the necessary manufacture of ‘imagined communities’?

These issues – and more – will be of interest to academics, journalists, sports media relations practitioners and students working in the field of sports communications.

Please send 200-word abstracts to Dr Daragh Minogue ( and Tom Bradshaw ( by 1 July 2017.

Whistleblowers ‘face increasing threats in digital era’

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 9:14 am

Journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to safeguard the anonymity of their sources due to the increasing surveillance of online and phone conversations, according to a major new study by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) at London University.

The report, Protecting sources and whistleblowers in a digital age, by Dr Judith Townend and Dr Richard Danbury, says whistleblowers need better legal protection since they are far easier to identify in the digital era and successive laws have undermined their status.

Earlier this month, a Law Commission review of the Official Secrets Acts proposed increased prison sentences for leaking official information and rejected the idea of providing a public interest defence.

The National Union of Journalists’ code of conduct stresses the importance of protecting the anonymity of confidential sources – and reporters have risked jail rather than reveal who gave them information for stories on matters of public interest. Following lobbying by the NUJ, the recently reformed clause 37 of the Digital Economy Bill allows a defence for publication in the public interest. The IALS report, however, suggests that it is uncertain how this defence will be interpreted by the courts.

The findings of the report (which is supported by the Guardian) are based on discussions with 25 investigative journalists, representatives from relevant NGOs and media organisations, media lawyers and specialist researchers.

A government spokesperson said: ‘Far from weakening protections for sources as this report suggests, this government has strengthened safeguards through the Investigatory Powers Act. Now any public body seeking to use communications data to identify a journalist’s source must first gain approval from a senior judge. We believe in the freedom of the press, and would never do anything to undermine legitimate whistleblowing or investigative journalism – it’s not government policy and never will be.’

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