Professor Deidre Pike’s wonderful course has come to a close after the good word of ethics is spread. The films are back in the can and Hank Green’s resting comfortably in the halls of YouTube education video. Back at the beginning of the course, I had the slightest bare bones knowledge of media ethics, only retaining the information given to me by my professor back in East Los Angeles College. Now, having taken this course, I feel a sense of being more well versed than before I accepted to come here.
When it comes to the theories given, the ones I think are important that I hope to carry with me are the theory of Contractarianism, Utilitarianism and Virtue Theory. The reasons these stick with me the most is more with the stories created following these theories and the risk involved in the practices of these.
With Contractarianism, it is for us journalist and media makers to ensure we make the right choices for the rational agreements we have made. As for Utilitarianism, it’s us making the proper and greatest call for action for the greatest good for the greatest number. Finally, with Virtue theory, it’s on us to report and get the story based upon our own character, rather than a set of rules i.e. follow our own morals when decision making. These theories involve risk, making connections and sticking to what is morally right within ourselves and the grander picture.
Now, what if that was all violated? For me, I personally want to get into the entertainment journalism field, which in itself has a huge stigma attached to it. However, I personally love film critiques and in-depth feature interviews on those in the industry. That field itself is a can of worms of whether or not the real story is being presented or is it just fluff pieces for promotions and that is where The line of credibility of information is. That was before Billy Bush of Access Hollywood ran entertainment journalism down to the ground.
“In the universe defined by that equation, the rules were more relaxed. That kind of journalism was largely about cuddling up to the stars, and occasionally skewering them. Real reporting, and by extension real journalistic ethics, had little to do with it,” Stephen Galloway of The Hollywood Reporter writes in an article, “Old journalists’ chestnuts — “follow the money,” “speak truth to power” and “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” — didn’t apply here.”
Billy Bush, for lack of a better term, messed up big time with a recorded private conversation with current President (ugh, that’s awful to write) Donald Trump promoting The Apprentice at the time. He was cheering on Trump as he made snide and misogynistic remarks about Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell rather than take him to task and call him out. This includes the infamous “grabbed them by the p—-” comment and Billy Bush just taking it all in, laughing along the way. Bush, however, violated his contract with us and did not do the greatest good. On top of that, it showed the content of his character, none of which was virtuous in the slightest.
NBC fired him from his new stint as the host of The Today Show (with a cushy $35 million payout upon exiting). He was called out by his peers and even his own daughter called him to hold him accountable. “She was upset. She said, ‘Why were you laughing at the things he was saying on the bus? Why were you playing along with it? That wasn’t funny’ and there is no good answer for that,” Billy Bush recalls in an ABC News interview.
The unfortunate thing is that he knew about the comments and knew what was said, recognized Trump laying out his sexual assault strategy and did nothing about it. This to this day has been quite disgraceful and only adds to the stigma that those reporting in entertainment are there for the sole purpose of being adjacent to fame, only helping with good PR and not doing honest journalism.
The reason I mention Bush’s story and the entertainment realm is because I personally want to ensure to those reading in the future I will not do what he did nor break the theories I have accepted into my life in the realm of entertainment reporting. The entertainment field needs a change of scope, in diversity and holding the subject accountable on their actions.
I want to report in the field with truth, honesty and with morals up front, not linger into the scenario where I become someone looking for clout or some personal gain in an interview or sense “holier than thou” sense. These public figures at the end of the day are still people with a job and should, like others interviewed, be treated as regular people and, if something goes wrong that is morally wrong or not in the best interest of people, should be brought to the attention of the masses.
Thanks to Deidre Pike for the marvelous course and for introducing these theories to my life as well as all of us in media ethics. It’s been a terrific time and wonderful to blog for the case. I used to blog before about film, but never went back. I forgot how much of a joy it is. To everyone reading, you’ve done phenomenal work and I hope to have done a decent job of it as well. The feedback and responding to said feedback has been wonderful. With all that said, been Sergio Berrueta and it’s been an absolute pleasure.