Advertisement

Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 66, Issue 2–3, pp 253–260 | Cite as

Infotainment and the Moral Obligations of the Multimedia Conglomerate

  • Mary Lyn Stoll
Article

Abstract

When the Federal Communications Commission considered revamping its policies, many political activists argued that media conglomerates had failed to meet their duties to protect freedom of speech. Moveon’s dispute with CBS over its proposed Superbowl advertisement and Michael Moore’s quarrel over distribution of his documentary, Fahrenheit 911, are cases in point. In matters of pure entertainment, the public expect companies to avoid offensive programming. The press, on the other hand, may well be forced to offend some audience members in order to create a viable forum for political dissent. As journalism and entertainment are increasingly inter-linked, an in depth moral analysis of the media corporation and its obligations becomes increasingly important. I explore Kantian, Utilitarian, and Rawlsian analyses of corporate obligation in the aforementioned cases. I then examine whether or not these results suggest anything more generally about the sorts of mission statements and ethical policies that ought to be endorsed by media conglomerates and whether non-business institutions also require changes. Ultimately, I suggest that at a minimum, media institutions should view the duty to promote the representation of diverse views in a democracy as an imperfect moral and civic duty rather than making programming decisions solely by reference to profit. Ideally, greater access to media access should not be increased for the most powerful unless doing so at the same time increases free speech opportunities for those who currently have the least access.

Keywords

corporate speech free speech infotainment media ethics multimedia conglomerates 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Amter, C.: 2004, ‘Moore’s “9/11” Not In Demand’, October 15, 2004, EOnline. http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,15157,00.html?tnews. Google Scholar
  2. Bagdikian, B. 2004The New Media Monopoly, Revised EditionBeacon PressBoston, MAGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauder, D.: 2004, ‘Cable-pay-per-view Decides not to Run Michael Moore Pre-election Special’, New York, October 18, 2004, Associated Press line.Google Scholar
  4. Gitlin, T. 2001Media UnlimitedMetropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co.New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  5. Herman, E., McChesney, R. W. 1997The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate CapitalismContinuumNew York, NYGoogle Scholar
  6. Kant, I.: 1965, ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals’, Translated by H. J. Patton (Harper Torch Books, Perennial, New York, NY)Google Scholar
  7. LaSalle, M.: 2004, ‘Persuasive and Passionate, Fahrenheit 911 Is Both. It’s Also Michael Moore’s Best Film’, June 24, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle. Google Scholar
  8. Mill, J. S.: 1859, in Shields, C. V. (ed.) ‘On Liberty’, (Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis).Google Scholar
  9. Mill, J. S.: 2002, ‘Utilitarianism’, forward by G. Sher (Hackett Publishing Company Indianapolis, IN).Google Scholar
  10. Moore, M. 2004The Official Fahrenheit 911 ReaderSimon and SchusterNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Rawls, J. 1999A Theory of Justice, Revised EditionBelknap PressNew York, NYGoogle Scholar
  12. Smith, J. A. 1999War and Press Freedom The Problem of Prerogative PowerOxford University PressNew York, NYGoogle Scholar
  13. Soley, L. 2002Censorship, Inc. The Corporate Threat to Free Speech in the United StatesMonthly Review PressNew York, NYGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy & Political ScienceUniversity of Southern IndianaEvansvilleU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations