“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king...” Shakespeare was repeating what the ancient Greeks had pioneered—if you want to tell a moral lesson and have it remembered, then make it entertaining.
Chad Painter and Lee Wilkins explore how popular culture explains media ethics and the philosophy that is key to solid ethical thinking. Each chapter focuses on a key ethical concept, anchors the discussion of that concept in a contemporary or classic accessible film, analyzes decisions made in that film with other popular culture artifacts, and grounds the analysis in appropriate philosophical thought.
The book focuses on core philosophical concepts of media ethics—truth telling, loyalty, privacy, public service, media economics, social justice, advocacy, and accountability—as they are examined through the lens of narrative film, television, and music. Discussion questions and online instructor materials further course applicability while the popular culture examples make ethical theory accessible and exciting for students and professors from a variety of academic backgrounds.
Chad Painter is assistant professor of Communication at the University of Dayton, where he teaches journalism and mass communication courses. He studies media ethics with emphases on the depiction of journalists in popular culture, the alternative press, and diversity studies. He is the co-author Media Ethics: Issues and Cases. Currently, he serves as the teaching chair the AEJMC Media Ethics Division. Prior to academia, he worked as an editor and reporter for the Columbus, Ohio, alternative newsweekly The Other Paper, and in corporate communications for JPMorgan Chase.
Lee Wilkins is Professor Emerita at Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. At Wayne State, she chaired the Department of Communication. She taught at the University of Missouri for 23 years, winning the campus’ highest teaching award and then being named a Curator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor. During her time at Missouri, she was a weekly panelist and later host of Views of the News, a program that examined the news media, which aired on public radio station KBIA. She has also worked as a newspaper reporter and editor.
Painter and Wilkins seamlessly blend engaging analyses of popular cultural artifacts with accessible summaries of philosophical principles to depict the competing interests—including truth-telling, loyalty, privacy, public service, and the profit motive—that confront media professionals in making ethical decisions…. The authors memorably trace the phrase public service from an early use in 1576 to the normative roles of journalism displayed in the TV shows Adventures of Superman (1952–58) and House of Cards (2013–18) and the films All the President's Men (1976) and Contagion (2011) to document the profession's evolving values in the 20th and 21st centuries. This timely book samples popular culture and theoretical scholarship without short shrifting either. It includes discussion questions throughout and a conclusion full of fruitful questions for further research. Highly recommended. Undergraduates through faculty.
An exciting read from Star Trek to Madame Secretary. The beauty of this book is that it addresses overarching themes and topics that are relevant to journalism and mass communication and then views it through the lens of popular culture, supporting the analysis through philosophy.
An intelligent, well-written text that can capture students’ attention through the use of popular culture while balancing readability with an appropriate depth of analysis.
This book offers a fresh take on entertainment ethics, especially the depiction of journalists in popular culture. It integrates ethics theory with excerpted dialogue from several movies and TV shows. Students can learn much about the history of how journalists are viewed and how it supports or refutes journalists' real experiences.
Painter and Wilkins offer an engaging analysis of entertainment media for insights into competing interests that confront media practitioners today. Abundant discussion questions make good use of contemporary debate about social justice and privacy rights, among many others, to show how pop culture entertainments free us to imagine valid decision-making in the real world. Graduate and upper-division students planning careers in public relations, strategic communications, or reporting will benefit from this consistently accessible blend of normative ethics theory and pop culture commentary.
Featured Movies and TV Shows