WMU News

Journalists and public trust topic of ethics presentation

September 24, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Journalists should seek to regain the public's trust and set themselves apart from the sensational media, according to a media ethics specialist who will explore the idea in a Thursday, Oct. 1, presentation at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Sandra L. Borden, WMU assistant professor of communication, will address "Journalism as a Distinct Practice Worthy of Trust" at 7:30 p.m. in Room 204 of the Bernhard Center. In the presentation, she will propose that journalists need to re-embrace the ideals of journalism before the profession loses all credibility. The free public talk is part of a fall lecture series sponsored by WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

"We live in a complicated age where the technological and economic developments have made journalism lose the public trust," says Borden. "Journalists are feeling increased pressure to the bottom line and competitiveness of the industry, and are ceding more and more control over their work. As a result, it can be argued that the profession of journalism has been corrupted."

Journalism plays a critical role in a democracy because people rely on it to provide a forum for public debate and information, states Borden. If journalists lose credibility, then people won't rely on journalism and it could become irrelevant.

Borden, whose teaching and research focus is on communication ethics, has published articles in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics and Communication Monographs. She is a contributor for the recently published book, "Journalism Ethics: A Reference Handbook." She earned a doctoral degree in mass communication from Indiana University.

Borden's address is one in a series of public presentations planned for this fall by the center. Other presentations scheduled are:

Two presentations by Dr. Joseph Herkert, professor of multidisciplinary studies at North Carolina State University, Monday, Oct. 12. The first, "ABET Engineering Criteria 2000," will be at 3 p.m. in Room 157 of the Bernhard Center. The second, "Sustainable Development, Engineering and Multinational Corporations: Ethics and Public Policy Implications," will be at 7:30 p.m. in Room 158 of the Bernhard Center;

"Gun Control: Protecting the Public or Restricting Rights?" with Dr. Hugh La Follette, professor of philosophy at East Tennessee State University, Friday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. in Room 3512 of Knauss Hall;

"Job Search Ethics: Playing Fair" with a panel of representatives from WMU Career Services and Kalamazoo employers, Thursday, Nov. 5, at 4 p.m. in Room 2000 of Schneider Hall; and

"Ethics Bowl" featuring WMU communication and ethics students, Monday, Nov. 9, at 3 p.m. in Room 3512 of Knauss Hall.

For more information, contact the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at 387-4390.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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