Spring Break and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy

For an entire week of spring break, I became a spoiled person. This starts with the fact that I slept on a double-pillow top bed with 650 thread-count sheets, which is mighty different from the mattress on a piece of wood that I sleep on every night. In addition, I did not make a to-do list at all for the week, which I have done for almost every week for three years. I did not accomplish any homework aside from one blog for the whole week. I also had the opportunity to eat a home cooked meal everyday. Being a college student, that is definitely different from what I have on a regular basis. The best part of my week was the time I was able to spend with my mom and friends I have had since I was a small, blonde awkward elementary student.

In the middle of this week, it dawned on me that I will probably not get the chance to do this for an entire week for quite a long time.  Even when I get the opportunity to have an entire week off from work, which I hear is not something you necessarily get as soon as you are hired. Since I hope to be married and to have children one day, I will have to use my week off to not only do things for them but also with them. So once I realized this, I definitely tried to take full advantage of my last week off.

So even though it was my last week off, I really did enjoy it. This situation also revealed to me that my mother was right. As much as I hate to say it, my time in this comfortable college bubble is quickly coming to an end. Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy summed it up perfectly, “We’re adults. When did that happen? And how do we make it stop?” I guess I will just have to enjoy it while it lasts.

Social Media and Chandler from Friends

The other day I was taking a “study break” on TweetDeck and my professor tweeted about an article titled “Social media bigger than porn: Is this a surprising revelation?” Now just because of the title, I had to read this article, which showed some fairly interesting and surprising facts about the wonderful world that is social media. One fact revealed that if Facebook was a country instead of a Web site, it would be the fourth largest county by population in the world. Another tidbit of information was that 80% of companies in the country use or have used LinkedIn to find current employees.

 Why do I find this so interesting? One reason would be that it affects several segments of my life and probably a lot of other people’s lives as well. Take the other day for example. I was in my Spanish class when my best friend called me and left a voicemail. When I got out of class I returned her call and got her voicemail. This phone-tag went on for about an hour without us actually speaking to each other. Finally, I logged onto Facebook and noticed she was also on so we chatted with each other for about an hour. 10 years ago, this story would have ended with either one side giving up or someone actually answering her phone.

 The above mentioned article also points out that since August 2009, using any social media site is the number one thing people do while in front of their computers. This fascinates me because the phenomena only started about 5 years ago. I remember my older sister helping me set up my Facebook page when she was visiting for my high school graduation. I also remember my friend Nichole bugging me early this year about not using my Twitter account. I now use both of these Web sites several times a day.  Another exciting fact is that it took several years for both the radio and Television to get the amount of users it only took the Internet and social media a few years to gain.

 Another reason I find this so fascinating is because many people who use social media on a daily, or even every other day basis, complain about how they feel bothered all the time. I happen to be one of those people. I get annoyed that people can always find and talk to me, whether it is by texting, Facebook chatting, or tweeting me. There really is no such thing as “alone” time. Yet, this annoyance will not bring me to actually stop using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

 So now that I have rambled on for a few paragraphs, I leave you with one last thought. Social media is probably not going away, so if you are annoyed with it, you, and I, will just have to go on our merry way and live with it. Chandler from Friends is probably right, social media- Can open, worms everywhere.

The Golden Rule and the Golden Mean

I personally am not a fan of horror films. I will take a chick-flick, romantic comedy over that any day. The idea of blood and guts everywhere mixed with hysteria and being scared is really just not my cup of tea. I definitely do not want to something like this on me television screen during the news either. This is the place many Americans found themselves while watching the broadcast of the 2010 Olympics opening ceremony.

On February 13, Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger from the Republic of Georgia, was going on a practice run for the Olympics down Whistler Mountain at speeds nearing 100 mph, when he lost control of his sled and eventually died. This 21-year man lost his life one day before the Olympics began in a very tragic, graphic accident.

Unfortunatley, this is not where this story ends. That night while Bob Costas was covering the events about to kick off this year’s Olympics, the network told the story of the poor luger and explained that the video of his death was quite vivid and may not be appropriate for all viewers. They then showed the entire video and then they showed it again, and then they showed it for a third time. Once that horrific visual was complete, they then showed paramedics and other emergency personnel attempting to bring the young man back to life. This was definitely not the joyous celebration that most viewers expected when tuning into the opening ceremony.

If I were the broadcast news editor for the network, I would not have shown the entire video and definitely not for three times. I would have stopped the video when the sled left the ice and not shown his head hitting a metal pole. Several ethical theories come to mind when trying to make this decision. The first one is Aristole’s Golden Mean, which basically states that things are best while in the middle. In the text book Ethics in Media Communications, this theory of ethics is considered “virtue ethics.” The two extremes on this case would be to either show the video several times or not showing the footage at all. This is why I feel that the middle ground would be to only reveal portions of the content. I personally believe that not showing the video at all would not be coving the story to its full extent, which is what a network such as this is supposed to and expected to do. The Fort Lauderdale Examiner ran article on their Web site which said that “If they didn’t show the video, people would be complaining that the network was protecting its investment on the Olympics.” On the other end of the spectrum, this Olympian is someone’s son, someone’s brother and someone’s grandson, all of whom might not want the entire world to see their loved-one’s last moment. Another thought that would help me come to my decision would be the Bible’s Golden Rule, or do unto your brother as you would have him do to you. In this case I would not want my family member’s death shown in full across the country several times for everyone to see.

Another ethical theory appropriate for this case would be the utilitarian theory, which states that the best course of action is the one that has the most good for the most people. In this case, the majority would have been just fine without seeing the entire incident. This theory also supports the idea that showing the video several times, plays into sensationalism journalism, which is not good for the community at all. According to Ethics in Media Communications, utilitarianism is under the umbrella of deontological ethics, which focuses on the consequences of action and not the action itself. I feel that in this incident, the consequences of showing the video over and over would be not only the possibility of offending the victim’s family but also disturbing the public at large with the video. These consequences seem to outweigh any good that might have come from the action. In a blog found on the Notre Dame de la Baie Academy, the author supports this idea by mentioning that Kumaritashvili was not given respect in death. “The media needs to honor the fact that he was a person first and not just “the luger that died.”” In addition, it also seems that the network was exploiting the tragic death of a young man, whose name most viewers could not pronounce and who was from a country most have not heard of and definitely could not pick out on a map

This entire situation is quite heartbreaking at all angles. It seems that media coverage could have been handled in a better, more tasteful and respecting way. I personally would have only showed portions of the accident in respect for the family. I also would have shown a computer generated version of the accident, which would provide the viewers with details on the incident but would not show the actual victim and would have given him respect in his death.

I leave you, my lovely readers, with one last thought. If ever caught in a situation such as this, go with what your mother taught you as a child “Do to others what you would want done to you.”

PR, Kim Kardashian and Pumbaa from the Lion King

So I was on Tweetdeck a few days ago, looking for a topic to use for my first blog. Most of the Tweets revolved around a certain golfer and all of his current issues but I realized this topic was probably a little over done.  I then came upon a tweet by a friend of mine, who is very reliable for articles about current events and other things in the PR industry, tweeted an article discussing how Kim Kardashian is making a documentary portraying the world of celebrity PR. The documentary will be entitled “The Spindustry.”

For some reason, this really bothered me. Why does she feel that she has the expertise to do this or that this would be actually beneficial to do? What actual good will come from this adventure through the whirlwind that is reality television? Furthermore, what actually makes her famous to the point that people will tune into this?

This also perturbs me because it may be the only the look into the industry most people will get the chance to have. Many people already hold an unwelcoming attitude toward the field of PR and think the only thing professionals in the field do is “spin” information and lie. In addition, some people feel that the only industry that utilizes PR is the entertainment and celebrity industry. It seems from the description that this film will only add to these attitudes and provide more fuel for the fire.

Now, I realize the documentary is scheduled to air on E! Entertainment network, which is not exactly the channel most people turn to for hard hitting news. I also realize this is exactly the type of material that is most often featured on that network.

I know that my blogging about this will probably not make a difference and that thousands of people will still watch the program, mainly because it is Kim Kardashian. For some reason, the fact that it is on E! will also make people watch it. I will admit to falling under this spell and have actually watched a few episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and several episodes of E! True Hollywood Story.  

I also realize that this one documentary will not completely do in the industry that I have chosen as a career. This will also not change the minds of people who really know and understand this profession. I guess I will just have to take the advice of Pumbaa from the Lion King, “You got to put your behind in your past.” So I will putting this behind me and continue on with the circle of life.

Humans, Opinions and Chandler from FRIENDS

Human beings have opinions. This is one of the things I like about us. However, there are times in life when this part of our make up creates a problem, especially for those who work in the media. This is the situation Craig James and Mike Patrick, both sport analysts for ESPN, found themselves in while covering the Alamo Bowl between Texas Tech and Michigan State.

For just a little background on the story, the head coach for Texas Tech, Mike Leach, was fired for allegedly punishing a student athlete for sustaining a concussion and placed him in a dark room during practice. The athlete was Adam James, the son of Craig James. Due to this conflict of interest ESPN found itself, much like Chandler from the NBC show Friends, in a unique situation: Rock. ESPN. Hard place. 

Some people, including Don Ohlmeyer who serves as the ombudsman for the network, feel that either ESPN or Craig James should have decided to not allow the analyst to cover the Texas Tech game since he had such a vested interest. Now, if you have ever watched at least five minutes of a sports broadcast, you have probably noticed that the analysts share their opinions about almost everything. Like I said, humans have opinions on situations and it would seem that a situation involving a family member would permit an even stronger opinion.

Several different options that the sports network could have taken in the situation but let us look at this from an ethical theory standpoint.

Deontological ethics (Day 3), which focus on the actions of situations, state that certain actions are right or wrong no matter what the outcome might be. For this situation, allowing an analyst, or any journalist for that matter, to cover a story they could have a bias in is wrong because the network is obligated to cover the stories in an unbiased way. So if ESPN had based its decision on just that theory then they would not have allowed Craig James to the broadcast and would not have given much attention to the controversy.

Another theory of ethics is consequentialism (Day 3), or judging whether an action was right or wrong based on the outcome. In other words, the action itself does not really matter, just the consequences. In the case of ESPN, having an analyst with a strong bias cover a game is wrong because the outcome is having an unbalanced broadcast. We could even take this one step further and say that a possible outcome could be having fewer viewers since people often do not want to listen or watch a broadcast that is completely one-sided.

The PRSA Code of Ethics (Plaisance 2) lists several fundamental principles that PR professionals should adhere, such as Honesty and Fairness. If ESPN had used just these principles, they would have not allowed Craig James to cover the game. It was not fair to the other team nor was it fair to Mike Leach. The coverage mainly gave the perspective that Leach was in the wrong and it was the right decision to fire him.

In conclusion, I feel that ESPN and Craig James should have considered the fact that covering the game in this way was completely unfair to both Mike Leach and to his supporters. I also feel that since ESPN is the “world-wide leader in sports” they should have paid more attention to their involvement in this particular situation since most people look to them for their daily dose of sports news and information.

I leave you with one last thought, sports are naturally subjective and it is easy for analysts to let their human nature show and give opinions and be biased. If a network that is considered leader of something is not going to do it right, how can we expect anyone else to do what is right?

Sources

Media Ethics- Patrick Lee Plaisance

Ethics- In Media Communication- Louis Alvin Day

NBC television show FRIENDS

Hello world!

Hello blogging world! This is my very first blog, so I am pretty excited about the prospect of what might happen. This blog will focus on my thouhts and feelings of the world of public relations, including current issues and trends and ethics. Always feel free to comment and you can even disagree with me. Let me know if you feel that I can do something to make it better and more enjoyable! Enjoy!

Newer entries »