PHILOS 2TT3 Lecture Notes - Yellow Journalism, Pragmatism, Individualism

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November 1
The Understanding of Truth Changes Over Time:
- Ancient Greece: what we remember through song and poetry oral truth
- Plato: what is true is somehow linked to rationality and intellect, not knowable by
experience (allegory of the cave exemplifies the fallacies of experience when it
comes to knowing truth).
- Medieval Times: what God or the King says
- Enlightenment: what is verifiable, replicable, universal cast in secular terms,
corresponding to external facts. The basis of the ideal of objectivity in journalism.
- Pragmatism: depends on individual perception and context.
Standard of Objectivity in the Early 1900s
- Press becomes less partisan to appeal to broader audience and advertisers
o Because support is gained through political advertising
- Reaction to the 1890s “yellow journalism” which used sensationalism and
fabrication to increase circulation
o Opinion relegated to specific pages, fact to others.
- Philosophical foundations in Enlightenment view of truth
Objectivity Challenged:
- Changing notion of truth is there an objective truth?
o Pragmaticism indicates not, as the truth becomes relevant to who researches
it.
- Technological advances and explosion of information
- Creators and reporters of news not representative of audience.
o Papers and media are partisan nowadays
o Mainstream media, majority of news is reported by white, upper class and
educated people.
News Reflects Cultural Values
- News stories at Newsweek and CBS reflect certain values (Herbert Gands)
o Ethnocentrism
o Altruistic democracy
o Responsible capitalism
o Individualism
o Need for social order
o Leadership
Telling a “Good Story”
- Highlight drama and human interest
- Look for event
- Video determines story selection and placement
- Get story first
- What gets left out?
Means to An End:
- Is it ethical to lie to get a story?
- Omission vs. commission
- Informing the public at any cost.
(Suggested) Ethical news values
- Accuracy
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Document Summary

Ancient greece: what we remember through song and poetry oral truth. Plato: what is true is somehow linked to rationality and intellect, not knowable by experience (allegory of the cave exemplifies the fallacies of experience when it comes to knowing truth). Medieval times: what god or the king says. Enlightenment: what is verifiable, replicable, universal cast in secular terms, corresponding to external facts. The basis of the ideal of objectivity in journalism. Pragmatism: depends on individual perception and context. Press becomes less partisan to appeal to broader audience and advertisers: because support is gained through political advertising. Reaction to the 1890s yellow journalism which used sensationalism and fabrication to increase circulation: opinion relegated to specific pages, fact to others. Philosophical foundations in enlightenment view of truth. Changing notion of truth is there an objective truth: pragmaticism indicates not, as the truth becomes relevant to who researches it.

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