This issue of Media Ethics magazine is, we acknowledge, both tardy and skimpy. The tardiness should be blamed on the editor—but the paucity of manuscripts submitted for this issue is strange and disconcerting.
When asked, some regular contributors to this magazine said that they just didn’t have anything to send. Others ignored e-mails, and a few, more polite, said, “maybe I’ll have something for the Fall issue.”
Why? Why wait? Why not provide the ideas, arguments and data they’ve prepared in a timely fashion to the audience for Media Ethics?
Is it that there are no ethical issues affecting today’s media? Hardly! Is it just a “bad patch”? Unlikely…and I’m speaking from the experience of editing this (and other) magazines in the communications field for nearly four decades. Could it be that everyone has moved over to print journals such as the Journal of Mass Media Ethics or Ethical Space or been welcomed to the periodicals published by various media- or communications-related organizations such as BEA, AEJMC, RTDNA, SCA, SPJ and the like? Is it something as simple as this magazine not having a memorable URL, a more (or less?) frequent publication frequency, or the dropping of our print edition some years ago??
Or, as I originally joked, maybe too many potential authors are being cautious as a result of the 2016 U. S. presidential election, and may still be creating research reports, analysis and commentary about the election campaign, or media ethics and their relation to the new administration—and then, from a excess of caution or concern about the effects of politics on their own institution’s or company’s decisions, burying their potential articles in an obscure drawer somewhere until the political scenery is more welcoming?
Obviously, I don’t have an answer—and, unfortunately, I also don’t have the number of acceptable manuscripts that otherwise would fill the pages of Media Ethics magazine. I can only hope that next Fall’s issue will be bursting with the kind of outstanding articles with which we’ve all become familiar.
There certainly are many areas/fields/topics/events that need to be examined from an ethics point of view. One of these valuable reports might be in the form of an isolated case study, an analysis, a commentary, a bibliography, a critique or a brand-new idea. They could be historical, descriptive or experimental. On the other hand, we might start a list of “potential topics” with some of the subdivisions of human knowledge—what is happening in economics, politics, philosophy, rhetoric, marketing, history, psychology, sociology and technology (among others), and see how the principles of these fields apply to media and to ethics.
Or, we could all benefit from more detailed subjects, many of which now are focused upon in the current media. Are there any of us who don’t startle at what is happening these days in governmental places as separated as the FCC or the White House, and corporate boardrooms and newsrooms? Or in the interplay (or, perhaps, according to President Donald Trump, the conflict) between them? (When I started to scribble a note to myself listing all of the media ethics topics I’d like to learn more about, I got to three dozen—including everything from net neutrality to the level of concentration of control of the mass media in general, not just Sinclair and Murdoch. Before I transferred that list to the circular fiIe, I realized that while such a list could be useful to those searching for a topic to write about, authors do their best work when working on something that ignites a fire in their belly, not mine).
But the topics I’d like to see published in the next issue of Media Ethics shouldn’t just be those stimulated by current events, trends and principles. Traditional standards of ethical communication—such as those involving lying, protection of sources, conflict of interest or what needs to be learned in order to practice—need to be considered. Frequently and thoroughly. As you will note later in this issue, even a 2,000-year-old poem has something to say about current reportage and its standards. Such broad—but hugely important—topics such as further discourse on “What is truth?” “How do we know it?” “Is ‘terror’ a personal emotion or a philosophy and combatants?” “What constitutes professionalism, and what is its relationship to ethics?” (practicality?). These germane topics can only be ignored at our peril. And, let’s not forget our place, which is within society: What are the roles of the public, particularly when there appear to be developing the results of massive changes in population size, medicinal intervention, and climate? And where should we rest on the continuum that goes from “lying” to “inventing” to “creating” (with a stop at “copying”)?
Please don’t forget to send us those manuscripts in the long-term storage drawer, and those being produced by your colleagues and students as well!
John Michael Kittross
Call for Manuscripts
A few months ago, one of our authors wrote the editor, saying: “I'm glad you like these little essays. I have fun writing them...it's a nice forum for sharing thoughts about things that I'm working on/thinking about, without the formality of a big research paper.” Right on!
Media Ethics magazine has said many times that we will welcome the submission of any manuscript that deals with both the media and ethics. True enough! But sometimes this language makes people think that we are only interested in journalism, or in the traditional mass media of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the like. Not true. Instead, we are also interested in the movies, the theater, blogging, social media, and the teaching of ethics. We welcome opinion, commentary and rigorous research (and have published satire, poetry, and manuscripts that are hard to classify—but which deal with ethics and communication) that refer to “old media,” “new media” and matters that nobody has previously written about. Aesthetics? Philosophy? Technology? Sure! Labor, management, diversity? Naturally! Entertainment, journalism and other information, persuasion (such as advertising, public relations and psychological warfare)? Reporting, history, government policy and the Internet? Of course!
Media Ethics also publishes reviews, reports, digests, bibliographies, case studies and news of meetings, opportunities, and publications.
To sum up, we would like to receive from you, and from your fellow media professionals, scholars, or students any appropriate material that is well-written and well-reasoned.
The deadline for receiving manuscripts for the next issue (Fall 2017, vol. 29, no. 1) has been moved to October 16, 2017. If we get your manuscript about any topic related to media ethics by that date, we should be able to catch up with our production schedule. Although we often print much longer articles, many of our commentaries run 1,200 words or less. And, for the benefit of readers, we are happy when an article provides reference citations, even though many commentaries or "opinion pieces" do very well without them.) Naturally, all submissions are subject to editing—but we communicate about any problems or needed changes and are very flexible when it comes to ideas, viewpoints, format and style. We try to stay in touch with our authors.
Media Ethics Magazine
Attn: John Michael Kittross, Editor
186 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02111-1014