J500 Media and the Environment

A World Overwhelmed With Words by angelajon
July 10, 2009, 2:31 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 4, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,
 Every word written today has the potential to be read by every person on this planet and the message intended is not always the message received.
We live in a world swarming with information from blogs, reality television, supermarket tabloids, and mainstream news media. Getting noticed requires each author to irritate the leading edge of society’s ethical and moralistic principles.

How do we define unacceptable story telling? Do journalists have to go ‘too far’ to sell their publications? 

Panorama of the beef industry in 1900 by a Chicago based photographer

Panorama of the beef industry in 1900 by a Chicago based photographer

“I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident hit its stomach”Upton Sinclair speaking about his 1906 book; The Jungle.


Sinclair’s socialistic message was lost when readers realized that their food supply was potentially deadly. Sinclair’s writing triggered the establishment of the Federal Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (FDA precursor). The nation’s food supply could have sickened or killed thousands of people if Sinclair’s editor had suppressed the book for bias or advocacy reasons.

What happens when a reporter’s personal integrity is overruled by their desire to champion a cause?

There is a downside to journalistic freedom; consider the recent case of Dole vs. WG Film AB (producer of Bananas!)

Where does reality meet social responsibility?

All varieties of Journalism can be extremely powerful and influential.  Mankind is fallible and should exercise care when weilding any type of power. For the everyday Joe-bag-o-doughnuts the media may be his only advocate; an advocacy we cannot afford to lose.

When does advocacy become abuse of power? Does a ‘good’ reporter stick to facts; do they strive to educate or to persuade the reader?

Each of us must be responsible for judging the truth of what is reported or we will have to rely on governmental oversight. Allowing government to control our media means facing the same governmental dictates George Orwell wrote about in Animal Farm and 1984.

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.” George Orwell

We must be mindful that the more something is abused, the more likely it will be placed under governmental controls. Perhaps Big Brother would do a better job?


Angela Jones


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment


The story of Dole’s case versus WG Film AB reminded me of the way I felt after I saw the documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” a couple years ago. The film was essentially about pedophilia among priests. It was deeply disturbing and eye opening but at the end I was left wondering “Why did the director make this film? What did she have to gain?” When I looked into it, it seems, at least to me, that this was an issue of legitimate concern for her and she was genuinely trying to educate the public. Hearing about the DOle case, however, makes me think that there’s a lack of legitimate concern in pieces that are suppsed to show Advocacy in journalism. I wonder how journalism can draw a line between what is considered advocacy and what is simply exploitive cash cow.

*Trey Williams*

Comment by TreyW

interestingly enough, I knew a guy that had been abused as an alter boy by his priest. So this year I went to see the movie with Meryl Streep about this issue (Doubt). It was a moving production and since I had a personal interest in the topic, it was even more disturbing. If you have an opportunity, I suggest seeing it in a very quiet place, with someone that can answer the questions it raises about the Catholic faith.
About the Dole/Bananas documentary, I am sort of pissed off about that. I think that the pesticide issue definitely needs to be raised. These companies need to be forced to be more conscious of the damage to our planet and the people they contact. However, the movie producers and more importantly the lawyers that proceeded illegally caused a result where the sympathy will go to Dole. Not pursuing the issue in a moral and ’straight-up’ honest fashion caused cases to be thrown out. Had they honestly found workers or areas that were truly damaged by the actions of Dole, then something might have been done. Now it is like a step backwards.
This points out the responsibility we have all been talking about. In Holly’s blog she talks about how she wanted to approach a story responsibly and thus was careful and thorough. Doing things this way got her the results she hoped for.
These lawyers, through dishonesty, screwed the issue and possibly did more damage to the cause. Had they and the documentary producers not gone at this for money and kept their integrity intact their actions would have been more beneficial to the cause of environmental responsibility for major producers like Dole, and could have made advocacy journalism appear more appealing.
We all have to be careful that our actions do not cause a backlash that will be more damaging to our cause than not doing anything at all.

Thanks for writing

Comment by angelajon

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