The Ethics of Media: Philosophical Foundations and Practical Imperatives

4 April 2008 - 5 April 2008


Deadline for Registration: 28 March 2008 

This conference is now full.  Please contact Michelle Maciejewska with any enquiries. 


Dr Mirca Madianou (Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge)

Professor Nick Couldry (Goldsmiths, University of London)

This conference seeks to address the current lack of academic and public debate about media ethics, that is, about the frameworks within which we can ask precise questions about the ethics of what media institutions do and reach some consensus about appropriate answers. Within media research, discussion of media ethics has with few exceptions been limited until recently to the development of detailed codes for journalists; while within philosophy relatively few moral philosophers have discussed the ethics of the media process. There is now an urgent need to develop interdisciplinary work in this area.

The imperative for developing a conceptual and theoretical framework on media ethics is driven on the one hand by observations of the ubiquitous presence of the media in social and political life with clear implications for democracy and the ways we live together; on the other hand, developments in the field of media and information technologies often raise new ethical problems and dilemmas that need to be addressed.

This is intended as a specialist conference which will bring together two groups of academics: first, media specialists (whether from sociology, anthropology or psychology) who are committed to developing an ethical perspective on media practice that draws explicitly on philosophical debates; and second, philosophers who are interested in applying general principles of ethics and moral philosophy to the areas of media, communications and representation

Through a series of presentations and panels, the conference will explore the following questions among others: which philosophical tradition (or hybrid of traditions) provides the most useful starting-point for framing ethical questions about media and communications? Should questions of 'the good', and of individual virtue, have priority, or rather questions of duty and justice? Do mass-communicated media and new interactive technologies generate new types of ethical and philosophical problems? For instance, are accountability and trust still relevant concepts in assessing new developments such as citizen journalism? How does media ethics interrelate with questions of political theory's concerns with the sustaining of effective democratic politics and safe co-existence? How should the media represent otherness in our increasingly multicultural societies and how should we assess their role in creating relationships of trust or fear? The conference will encourage dialogue between a range of philosophical traditions, and is particularly concerned to encourage dialogue between the Anglo-American and the Continental philosophical traditions.



Goldsmiths, University of London, and CRASSH.


Location : CRASSH Date : 4-5 April 2008

Friday 4 April


9.15 - 9.45


9.45 - 10.00

Welcome and Introduction

10.00 - 11.00

Opening Talk

Does  Freedom Trump All Other Media Norms?
Professor Baroness Onora O'Neill, University of Cambridge and President of the British Academy

11.00 - 11.30 

Coffee Break 

11.30 - 13.00 

Panel 1
Chair:  Clare Chambers (Dept of Philosophy, University of Cambridge)

Georgina Born (Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge)
The Normative, Institutional Ethics, and Practical Ethics: for an Anthropological Ethics of Media

Sabina Lovibond (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford)
Ethical Living’ in the Media and in Philosophy

Nick Couldry (Dept of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Communicative Virtue and the Construction of a Global Media Ethics

13.00 - 14.00 


14.00 - 15.30

Panel 2
Chair: Nick Couldry

Daniel Dayan (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)
Media Ethics and the Status of Visibility

Roy Brand (Sarah Lawrence College, New York State)
Amit Pinchevski (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Doubleface: Representation in an Ethical Register

Mirca Madianou (Faculty of Social and Political Science, University of Cambridge)
Politics of disrespect and ethics of care: towards a normative framework of mediated multiclturalism

15.30 - 16.00 

Tea Break

16.00 - 17.30 

 Panel 3
Chair: Mirca Madianou

Phil Parvin (Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge)
Should the Media Play a Role in Reversing Political Disengagement among British Citizens?

David Edmonds (BBC)
Crying at Mandela’s Funeral




Saturday 5 April


9.30 - 11.00

Panel 4
Chair: Joanna Zylinska
Nafsika Athanassoulis (Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University, UK)
Some Vices of Reality TV Programming

Lilie Chouliaraki (Dept of Media and Communications, London School of Economics)
Branding Human suffering: Civil Virtue and Utilitarian Ethics

Peter Lunt (Dept of Sociology, Brunel University)
Transformation, Character and Virtue in Mediated Social Interaction

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee Break

11.30 - 13.00

Panel 5
Chair: Georgina Born

Barbie Zelizer (Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania)
Journalistic Ethics from the Bottom Up

Joanna Zylinska (Dept of Media and communications, Goldsmiths, University of London)
The Ethos of Good Life in Online Media, or, what if Foucault had had a Blog?

Don Slater (Dept of Sociology, London School of Economics)
Network ethics: achieving 'ethical maturity' in North-South


13.00 - 14.00



14.00 - 15.30

Closing Remarks

John Durham Peters (F Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor Media History and Social Theory, University of Iowa)
Final Discussion





This conference has been organized with support from Goldsmiths, University of London, the Department of Sociology and CRASSH at the University of Cambridge.