This press release came in today:
MEDIA ETHICS: WHAT DO AMERICANS WANT TO KNOW?
National Summit Feb. 27-March 2 at MTSU to Address Credibility Issues
(MURFREESBORO)—Twenty years ago, ethics leaders in media and higher education at a national conference asked: How can we understand and promote better media practices in the United States? Is TV too violent? Is election coverage too biased? Are newspapers and TV too explicit? And is what the media tells us true?
Asking those questions, and more, these leaders will gather Feb. 27-March 2 to once again discuss Americans’ greatest concerns about media ethics and recommend change to government, industry and education.
This second conference, set for the Middle Tennessee State University campus, will draw experts nationwide to review results from a recent national poll on media ethics and overviews of similar polls and studies over the last two decades.
“We’ll be looking at the last 20 years and what we’ve all learned from it, and then looking ahead to the next 20 and what we can do about it,” said Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, ethicist-in-residence at MTSU and one of the co-conveners, with Dr. Clifford Christians of the University of Illinois, of the original 1987 ethics summit.
“We want to find out both the public’s and professionals’ ethics concerns and then ask leaders in the field how to publicize, understand and, whenever possible, counterbalance and minimize those problems.”
Former Vice President Al Gore will exchange ideas with attendees on Tuesday, Feb. 27, and respond to findings from two new Middle Tennessee polls, one national and one statewide. During the week, conferees will analyze the data and propose solutions.
The second phase will involve delegates from leading media organizations and a “circle of elders” who will critique and endorse suggestions offered by the conferees. Also, they will help determine which actions are most pressing, practical and achievable to set the agenda for the next 20 years.
On Friday, March 2, the public and press will be invited to an open session, where leaders will announce the group’s consensus on the issues and make recommendations for 2007 and beyond. Guests may ask questions at the event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the State Farm Room of the university’s Business and Aerospace Building.
“We’ll then be taking our findings to the White House, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, colleges and universities and professional and academic associations,” Cooper said. “We want to move the agenda to the public sector so we can see it implemented.”In addition to the March 2 open session, other free public events include:
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.—A screening of filmmaker and Harvard University professor Robb Moss’s latest work, “Secrecy,” a collaboration with Peter Galison exploring the world of government secrecy, in Room 221 of MTSU’s Learning Resource Center. The screening will be followed by a public question-and-answer period from 9 until 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 1, 7:30 p.m.—A lecture by Adam Clayton Powell III, former vice president of technology and programs at The Freedom Forum, a veteran newsman and a visiting professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Powell also is the author of “Reinventing Local News: Connecting Communities Through New Technologies” and “Adam By Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.,” a memoir of his late father, the powerful New York congressman.
Participants such as Geneva Overholser, Deni Elliott, Jane Kirtley and Steve Coltrin and special guests including John Seigenthaler will join delegates from several professional and academic associations, media ethics publications and institutions such as The Poynter Institute, the International Radio and Television Society and The American Society of Newspaper Editors for the summit. The event is sponsored by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and MTSU and hosted by Dr. Anantha S. Babbili, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication; more details may be found at www.mtsu.edu/~masscomm/ethics/ethics_index.html.
Cooper, the author or co-author of five published books and more than 100 articles and reviews and the co-publisher of Media Ethics magazine, has taught at Emerson College in Boston since 1983. He co-produced some of the first audio spacebridges between U.S. and Soviet communications professionals and was founding director of the Association for Responsible Communication, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
His yearlong tenure as ethicist-in-residence at MTSU is funded by a $120,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma City.
“Professional ethics must form the basis of higher education in mass communication disciplines,” noted Dean Babbili. "We live in an age where students and professionals are increasingly confronted with challenges at the workplace. They must be well-equipped to make wise choices quickly and confidently.
“The College of Mass Communication has made a renewed commitment to the teaching and discussion of ethics in and outside the classroom,” Babbili added. “We have fostered an intellectual atmosphere in which students and faculty look to leading figures that this summit attracts and learn from the fruits of their labor. There is a great deal of potential for us to be leaders in the debates on ethics.”
One of the largest programs in the nation, the MTSU College of Mass Communication offers degrees in 14 major areas—ranging from journalism to digital media and media management to recording industry management—and is accredited by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.