Final Exam Review
Judith Lichtenberg – Foundations and Limits of Freedom of the Press
- Freedom of the press in democratic societies is a nearly unchallengeable dogma (belief) –
essential, it is thought, to individual autonomy and self-expression, and an indispensable
element in democracy and the attainment of truth
- At the same time, we know that the press in its most characteristic modern incarnation – mass
media in mass society – works not only to enhance the flow of ideas and information but also to
- Which views get covered, and in what way, depends mainly on the economic and political
structure and context of press institutions. Important factors:
o News organizations belong to large corporations
o Driven economically
o Media is easily manipulated by government officials
o Characteristics of the media themselves constrain or influence coverage
- Regulations have been implemented for these defects including Ownership of multiple media
properties being limited
- Critics of regulation argue that freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is at the core of
what our society is about, and that commitment to it prohibits the policies in question:
regulation of the press is incompatible with freedom of the press
- Freedom of the press is an instrumental good (it is good if it does certain things and not
especially good otherwise)
- Theorists Mills and Kant – both stress the role of freedom of expression in human and self-
realization or self-development
o Mills On Liberty asserts the need for “liberty of the press’ and proceeds to list
arguments for freedom of thought and discussion. Defends the connection between
freedom of expression and a person’s self-realization.
o Kant What is Enlightenment? defends freedom of the press with general arguments for
the benefits of freedom of thought and discussion.
The press is treated as a voice, albeit a more powerful one, on a par with
individual voices, and defending press freedom is then equal to a general
defence of free speech. Argues a person’s ability to communicate ideas to the
public at large is essential to human enlightenment
- The modern press consists largely of vast and complex institutions that differ in essential
respects both from individuals and from the early press, around which the concept of freedom
of the press grew. Arguments that support freedom of expression for individuals or for small
publications do not necessarily support similar freedoms for the mass media.
- What we want when we want free speech:
o That people be able to communicate without interference
o That there be many people communicating or at least many different ideas and points
of view being communicated o These can be described in two basic principles:
Noninterference – one should not be prevented from thinking, speaking,
reading, writing, or listening as one sees fit.
Multiplicity of voices principle – The purposes of freedom of speech are
realized when expression and diversity of expression flourish.
- A newspaper may not interefere with a person’s right to speak or write, but it may very well
present her from expressing her views in that newspaper. Such decisions are simply exercises of
the newspaper’s editorial autonomy (this agrees with non-interference principle and classes
with multiplicity of voices principle)
- Deepest interest in free speech is a concern about individual autonomy
o This requires freedom to speak as well as freedom to hear.
- Freedom of speech protects expression that is essentially symbolic (primary way we
communicate feelings - art, writing, speaking. Not by punching someone in the nose though)
- Crude relativism – truth or goodness is whatever the majority thinks it is
- Self development – making the most out of oneself, or making oneself as wise as possible
o Self development is a “maximizing” concept: more is better, very important in bridging
the arguments from autonomy and from truth making them almost inseparable. Self-
development/self-realization is how you come to ideas of the truth.
- Autonomy and self-development in an intellectual vacuum are impossible.
o There must be a multiplicity of voices is central to achieving individual autonomy
o Hearing others express themselves is essential to attaining the social values underlying
free speech for the individual
- Even under a strong free speech principle, however, all such activities take place under
o Can’t go into someones house and read their books, there are government restrictions
o In this case property rights are ultimate, simple, and straightforward, always taking
- We hold that the value of privacy of a sphere over which the individual is sovereign, is so
important that it overrides or excludes the principle of equality (makes the freedom of speech
need to be moved to public spaces such as streets and parks to accommodate peoples interests)
- In the case of publishing, no one has a right to publish (I have the right to try to publish but
whether successful typically depends on choices that they are entitled to make.
o The free speech principle does not imply a right to publish where one chooses
o There are “Time, place, and manner” restrictions – often added as if they were minor
Therefore, non-interference is sovereign in its place, but its place is much
- Problem: Most people get the vast majority of their news from mass media
- The increasing extent and power of media corporations, which are often part of an interlocked
with other large corporations. Naive to think their interests are not reflected in the content. o Issue with this is mass media presents itself as describing the world “as it is” although
they only present one side on issues, theres no diversity.
- Principle – Argued that state should not interfere in the workings of the press
o Regulation is important though in order to keep the integrity of the press
o Content regulation: Makes specific demands of press institutions to cover certain kinds
of issues, to cover them in a certain way, or to provide access to certain points of view.
Negative aspect of government regulation
- Structural Regulation: Builds rules and constraints into the structure and organization of media
take as a whole. Positive move of government regulation.
o Weakens the objection in the principle that the gov’t is in no position to regulate the
press. Proves regulation can be productive, creates variety in programming
Why privacy is important – James Rachels
- Privacy necessary to protect people’s interest in competitive situations (ex. Not telling the other
team the play they will do)
o Also used to keep some aspect of life or behaviour private because it would be
embarrassing if people knew about it
o Medical records should be kept private since there are consequences about them going
public (Ex. Spreading someone has a disease could ruin a marriage)
o When people apply for credit theres a file of information on them. This should not be
leaked, unfair to decide someones credit on this personal information about them thats
- We need to account for the value which privacy has for us, not only in the few special cases but
in the many common and unremarkable cases as well – nobody wants to have their room
bugged even if nothing they are doing is questionable
- Rachels ‘Privacy is necessary if we are to maintain the variety of social relationships with other
people that we want to have, and that is why it is important to us
o There are different patterns of behaviour associated with different relationships
o However one conceives one’s relations with other people, there is inseparable from
that conception an idea of how it is appropriate to behave with and around them, and
what information about oneself it is appropriate for them to have.
Ex. Group therapy alot of people usually find something inappropriate about it
cause one simply does not reveal one’s deepest feelings to strangers.
- Privacy has to do with the crucial part of our lives – our relations with people- and how its
organized as its importance can hardly be exaggerated. Thus we have good reason to object to
anything that interferes with these relationships and makes it difficult or impossible for us to
maintain them the way we want to.
- Seperation allows us to behave with certain people in the way that is appropriate to that sort of
relationship o We regulate our behaviour according to the kinds of relationships we have with the
people around us.
- If we cannot control who has access to us then we cant control the patterns of behaviour we
need to adopt or the kinds of relations with people that we will have.
Toward a Theory of Privacy in the Information Age – James Moor
- Given the ability of computers to manipulate information- to store endlessly – we are justifiably
concerned that in a computerized society our privacy may be invaded and that information
harmful to us will be revealed.
- Greased information – is information that moves like lightning and is hard to hold onto
- Computers have elephant memories - big, accurate and long term
- The greasing of information allows other computers to capture and manipulate information in
ways we do not expect. Example Pizza Pizza knows what you like from their restaurant after you
have ordered there once before.
- Once information is captured electronically for whatever purpose, it is greased and ready to go
for any purpose.
o We leave electronic footprints everywhere and data collected for one purpose can be
resurrected and used elsewhere.
o Problem with computer privacy is to keep proper care on where such information can
and should go
- Instrumental values – values which are good because they lead to something else which is good
(goods as means – ex computer is a good as a means cause it helps in writing papers)
- Intrinsic values – values which are goods themselves. (goods as ends – ex just the joy of using
the computer is a good as an end, theres no value to that)
- Privacy has instrumental value. Example if it was leaked someone had HIV they would risk
discrimination, people might not want to date them, might not get hired for jobs.
- The justification of privacy would be more secure if we could show its intrinsic value.
- He claims all sustainable human cultures will exhibit these values (core values - Life, happiness,
freedom, knowledge, ability, resources, and security).
o core values are values that all normal humans and cultures need for survival
these are sent down through generations and are understood differently and
utilized differently depending on the culture
privacy is an expression of security, one of the core values
all cultures need security of some kid, but not all need privacy. As societies
become larger, highly interactive, but less intimate, privacy becomes a natural
expression of the need for security. We seek protection from strangers who may
have goals anti-thetical to our own.
- With information being greased now in a computer culture its inevitable that privacy will
emerge as an expression of the core value security. People have a basic right to be protected. - The Publicity Principle: Rules and conditions governing private situations should be clear and
known to the persons affected by them. (encourages informed consent and rational decision
- The Justification of Exceptions Principle: A breach of private situation is justified if and only if
there is a great likelihood that the harm cause by the disclosure will be so much less than the
harm prevented that an impartial person would permit a break in this and in morally similar
situations (example think someone with HIV, telling their partner is more moral than letting
then contract the disease.
- The Adjustment Principle: If special circumstances justify a chance in the parameters of a
private situation, then the alteration should become an explicitly and public part of the rules
and conditions governing the private situation.
- It is imperative that we create zones of privacy that allow citizens to rationally plan their lives
Case 6-A Funerals of Fallen Soldiers
- A 21 year old soldier was killed in Iraq. The funeral brought out thousands and was highly
publicized. A photographer was told to capture photos for a magazine of the grieving family, he
also used one with the open casket. Family tried to sue saying it was a “private religious
ceremony” although a judge ruled against this saying “the family put the death in the public eye
intentionally drawing attention to the burial.”
Case 6-D Kobe Bryant Rape Case
- Kobe was staying in Colorado to rehab his knee. Picked up a girl working at the place and slept
with her. She said it was rape it said it wasn’t. She filed a criminal lawsuit (which didn’t release
her name). Later, she dropped the case and changed it to a civil lawsuit giving the public
grounds to release her name. Two papers in Colorado were covering the story, one decided it
was ethical to use her name in the paper and the other did not.
Case 11-D Naomi Campbell
- Celebrity supermodel, known for partying and rumoured to use drugs, in the media spotlight.
Tabloids went hard on her saying she was really into coke which she denied. A tabloid in London
posted photos of Campbell leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in which she sued for
invasion of privacy and won. Judge noted even celebrities are entitled to privacy but also
believed the tabloid The Mirror were entitled to publish to the public her misleading drug
addiction Objectivity and Truth
1984: Orwell’s and Ours - Noam Chomsky
- News media and question of truth – what extent is it factual accuracy
- Main interest with international affairs
- Soviet Newscaster Vladimir Danchev contested the totalitarian state concept of press freedom
by calling the Russian mission an “invasion”, he was put into a psychiatric hospital.
o Considered a triumph in human spirit – a refusal to be cowed by totalitarian violence
- Argues in the US everyones to soft to do what Danchev did. Journalists and other intellectuals
are so subservient to the doctrinal system that they can’t even perceive that “an invader is an
invader unless invited in by a government with a claim to legitimacy,” when its the US that is an
- We call people ‘invaders’ when they come into the US but call us ‘defenders’ when we go into
their country (uses the example of Vietnam and how no one thought the war was right, over
70% of US weren’t in favour, the media spinned it to make it look like they were bad)
- ‘doves’ – thought we couldn’t win the war, were anti war ‘hopeless cause’
- ‘hawks’ – dedicated to the thought we could win
- Democratic system “brainwashing under freedom” with propaganda. In a totalitarian
government only the doctrine needs to be obeyed but in a democratic one they have control of
a whole lot more.
o Democratic systems have alot more ideological control
Objectivity, Impartiality and Good Journalism – Matthew Kieran
- Focuses on news reports, investigative journalism
- Supposed duty to impartiality and objectivity, arises from conceiving of the media as an
unofficial fourth estate. Supposed to report appropriately events that affect our lives as
members of society.
- Journalists prize their reputation for impartiality (fairness)
- Although, given that journalists bring to bear their fundamental value assumptions in making a
report, any event is open to innumerable redescriptions in different terms.
o Journalists who search for ‘the right’ description, interpretation and evaluation of states
of affairs are, on such a view, misguided and misleading.
o Nature of the event partly depends on those who interpret it
- Rodwell photograph said “Time for peace, Time to go” on an Ireland wall, photo was
photoshopped just “Time for Peace” completely altering the interpretation and evaluation
coming from the viewer
- But where interpretations differ, because of different basic beliefs and evaluative commitments,
there is no resolvable dispute.
- Discusses the OJ Simpson case and how it was interpreted and covered completely different by
mass media, black media and female media - If someone interpreting a message does not have relevant background information it can
misconstrue the message they receive from the content.
o Example with the altered pic, photoshopping it made it a misrepresentation
- Representations of events can be used to express general perceptions, hopes and fears. But,
used as such, the image should not necessarily be understood as an interpretation and
evealuation of the nature of the event it is of.
- Whichever type of news coverage wins out will, according to Rorty, effectively remake reality in
its own image: a chilling though reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Conflicts in news reporting usually occur because there are differences in judgement as to what
really constitutes a news story, how a story should best be covered and what the public ought to
have their attention drawn to.
o This can be sometimes confusing – look at the OJ Simpson case, both the mass, black,
and female media were producing factual information except how it was projected on
to its audience was very different with respect to what it concentrated on
Different legitimate reports are, essentially, not different interpretations at all
but incomplete sketches of the correct report.
Different scenarios may legitimately admit more than one possible evaluation
that are equally consistent, coherent and explanatory
There are radically different correct interpretations of the world
- Good Journalism – aims at discovering and promoting the audience’s understanding of an event