Robert E. Denton, Jr. (ed.) (2000). Political Communication Ethics: An Oxymoron? (Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood Publishing Group). xx + 263 pp. ISBN 0-275-96482. $ 72.50 (hardcover). ISBN 0-275-96483 (paper). Chapter notes & references, selected bibliography, index, authors' biographies.
This is a book for the specialist, and not for the casual reader or the undergraduate student in need of a text that is user-friendly. The question mark at the end of the subtitle creates sufficient ambiguity (much like the usual reaction to the name of this magazine) that readers would do well to read the entire book. In particular, it is recommended for political science and communication scholars-and those who apply scholarly knowledge to the applied arts of the media and of partisan politics.
Part of a Praeger series on political communication, this book contains 18 essays: "The Ethical Performances of Candidates in American Presidential Campaign Dramas" by Bruce E. Gronbeck; "Images, Issues, and Political Structure: A Framework for Judging the Ethics of Campaign Discourse" by Ronald Lee; "Electronic Democracy, Virtual Politics, and Local Communities" by Steven R. Goldzwig and Patricia A. Sullivan; "Ethical Considerations of Civil Discourse: The Implications of the Rise of 'Hate Speech'" by Rita Kirk Whillock; "Dangers of 'Teledemocracy': How he Medium of American Television Undermines American Democracy" by Denton; "Narrative Form and the Deceptions of Modern Journalism" by Gary C. Woodward; "Ethics and Political Advertising" by Lynda Lee Kaid; "Soft Money and Hard Choices: The Influence of Campaign Finance Rules in Campaign Communication Strategy" by Clifford A. Jones; "Internet Ethics" by Gary W. Selnow; and an epilogue by Denton on "Constitutional Authority, Public Morality, and Politics."
Scholarly chapters such as these require concentration, but should repay their readers. Although the book is dry in tone, its ideas are generally well-documented and of considerable importance.
The above article was published in Media Ethics , Fall 2003 (15:1), p. 50.