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Borden's new ethics book earns national recognition

July 18, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A new book by a Western Michigan University professor that explores the importance of focusing on journalism as a virtuous practice has won a prestigious national award and been nominated for a second one.

Dr. Sandra L. Borden, WMU professor of communication and media ethics specialist, has won the 2008 Clifford G. Christians Ethics Research Award for her book "Journalism as Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics and the Press." The book also was recently named as one of three finalists for the 2008 Tankard Book Award. The winner of that prize will be announced at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention on Aug. 6 in Chicago.

The Christians Ethics Research Award recognizes scholarship highlighting important theoretical issues in the areas of ethics, mass communication theory and the relationship between media and technology and culture. It is given annually by the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research and named after communication ethics scholar Clifford G. Christians. Borden's name will be added to the award plaque housed at the Institute of Communications Research, the institute Christians directs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The Tankard Book Award was created to honor Dr. James W. Tankard Jr., a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin for more than 30 years and a former journalist at the Raleigh Times and the Associated Press, who was admired for his journalism scholarship, creativity and character. The award pays tribute to books written by AEJMC members and is administered by the association's Standing Committee on Research. To win, a book must be judged relevant to journalism and mass communication, break new ground and be exceptionally well written.

In her book, Borden asserts that focusing on journalism's virtues can help journalists better withstand the moral challenges posed when corporate media conglomerates "commodify" the news to achieve global market dominance. She explores how journalists are placed in an ethical bind as they try to contribute to the common good while also responding to heightened pressures to report stories that contribute to a profitable bottom line. She contends journalists need to develop and promote "journalism as practice"--a robust group identity based on shared goals to create common civic knowledge and an informed public.

"I am so pleased and honored that my peers have recognized my work," Borden says. "I hope that the book makes a difference to journalists and to those of us who work in the field of media ethics."

A WMU faculty member since 1997, Borden earned her doctoral degree that year from Indiana University. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1985 from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a master's degree in 1991 from Ohio State University. She has taught at IU and Middle Tennessee State University and has worked at the Jackson (Tenn) Sun; the Daily American Republic in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and the Columbia (Mo.) Missourian.

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

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