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News media's coverage of the powerful examined

Feb. 2, 2006

KALAMAZOO--The news media are routinely put in a difficult position when covering or criticizing the powerful in society.

That dilemma will be the subject of a talk by Elaine E. Englehardt, an eminent media ethics scholar, at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, in Room 3208 of Dunbar Hall on the Western Michigan University campus.

Journalists and broadcasters walk a fine line when covering or criticizing the powerful. News gatherers are under increasing pressure to protect basic rights and distribute unpopular information, often resulting in a power struggle between news outlets and those who wield enormous power and influence in American society.

Englehardt will address the unique moral role filled by the news media and the obligation journalists and broadcasters have to directly serve the public, the inevitable harms of information distribution and the question of whether the harms will fall on the powerless or on vested interests that have the resources and their own power to attempt to deflect harm. She also will touch on the struggle for public opinion, as efforts are made to discredit the media in favor of power centers.

Englehardt is distinguished professor of philosophy at Utah Valley State College and directs a dissemination grant for Ethics Across the Curriculum, an initiative funded by FIPSE--the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education within the Department of Education. She has taught ethics, philosophy and communication classes at Utah Valley State College for the past 29 years. As a special assistant to the president, her administrative assignments include working with the nationally recognized Center for the Study of Ethics. She has been awarded more than $1 million in federal grants in the field of ethics, including four large grants in ethics education from FIPSE, part of the Department of Education.

Englehardt recently completed a three-book series with Harcourt College Publishers on ethics and a book on ethics for Wadsworth Publishers. She also co-wrote a book on ethics for William C. Brown Publishers and has written numerous articles on the subject.

Her presentation is sponsored by the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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