Now, I can’t operate a blog on media ethics without mentioning the elephant in the room. Earlier this week, Marie Claire blogger Maura Kelly posted an entry entitled “Should Fatties Get a Room? (Even on TV?)” Seriously. An international women’s magazine saw fit to publish content with that title. And then there’s the content itself. Kelly has now gained the attention of everyone from the ladies over at The View to Forbes. The post itself has garnered over 2500 comments (and counting!) along with international attention, and Marie Claire’s website has experienced a deluge of traffic as a result. Rather than removing what has been called a bigoted and hateful post, Marie Claire posted Kelly’s apology response and has now launched a series of “counterpoint” blog entries. One enlightens readers that “fat people exist” (and thus should be represented on television) the other declares that “Free Speech is  Beautiful Thing.” That it is.

While Ms. Kelly is certainly entitled to her opinion, and of course her right to free speech, the question must be asked “Just because you think something, should you say it?” Furthermore, should what you think be published on the website of a magazine that espouses the ideal “More than a Pretty Face”? Kelly has heard directly what her readers think of her opinion (and I imagine will continue to hear it for quite some time), but perhaps more attention should be paid to who asked for that opinion. Continue Reading »


In my post on ethical photojournalism, I made brief mention of the issues with photoshop and its distortion of female body image. This is an issue that I’ve always found incredibly interesting, and enjoy reading and writing about. While photojournalists and regular ol’ journalists alike strive to adhere to a code of ethics, what code of ethics guides the most pervasive medium in most Americans lives? I’m talking, of course, about television.

The atrocities committed against female body image by women’s mags are well documented, debated and discussed. However, an impressionable young girl might not have access to magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue with their self-esteem attacking agenda (and that’s coming from an avid Cosmo reader since the age of 14), if her parents or guardians don’t deem it appropriate content. On the other hand, a young, impressionable girl might be very much exposed to the same kind of bodily image distortions by TV, a medium that most American families invite into their household, if not revolve their households around.

One such program that appeals largely to young women is Glee. Now, I love me some Glee. I love its dark ridiculousness, its sing-along-ability, and especially its tendency to show Chord Overstreet shirtless an average of 3.4 times per episode. I also love that it embraces serious issues facing high schoolers (and grown ups…and even those of us just attempting to be grown ups) in a manner concurrent with what’s really going on in the world. Continue Reading »

NBC’s CNDR is a household tradition ’round these parts. In honor of a little humor and levity, please enjoy this cartoon:

Looking forward to a more “in-depth” post tomorrow morning!

Image compliments of Eternal Remont.

If You’re Interested…

Here is Perez’s interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show, one of the forums through which he announced his retirement from virtual bullying.

Confession time: I have a guilty pleasure obsession with Perez Hilton. I’m sure that my Gossip Girl post had you assuming I wouldn’t deign to read that kind of crap (not). But alas, Mr. Hilton (Lavandeira?) holds a special place in both my heart and my browsing history. Maybe it’s the lurid pink background, maybe it’s the fact that I’m convinced I was a gay man in a past life, maybe it’s the inappropriate illustrations, but let’s be honest- in all actuality it’s the hot,juicy gossip about celebrities.

So two weeks ago, when Perez (aka Mario Lavandeira) announced that he was reforming his snarky ways, I was concerned. Would this mean no more inside scoops, no more insider details, and eventually the demise of my beloved procrastination tool (seriously, I’ve been distracted by his site for the last 15 minutes)? More importantly, where did this sudden change of heart come from?

Perez has been extremely vocal about his concern over the recent rash of teen suicides, most induced by bullying. Of course, his use of his fame and commercial appeal to help end teen bullying seems like the obvious thing to do, but the backlash he received from commenters on his blog named him as bully numero uno when it comes to Hollywood. He’s outed stars, ended relationships and divulged uber-personal details- often damaging people’s reputations, careers and mental health. Interestingly enough, no commenters took personal responsibility for following his blog and greedily reading all the tidbits he throws us… Continue Reading »

Yesterday I was reading this article by Carolynne Burkholder, written about photojournalism ethics within online journalism. Considering that online journalism is quite likely the future of all journalism (and that even blogging is something I consider to be online journalism), I found the article to be quite interesting.

The main reason I read it is because I’m incredibly photo-challenge. My idea of “good photography” are pictures in which my “skinny arm” pose isn’t too obvious and I don’t look ghostly pale; basically, pictures I won’t have to de-tag later. So as a blogger who pretty much mooches off of the talents of the fantastic photographers who know how to operate something beyond a point-and-shoot, I thought that a peek inside the ethics of photojournalism would be interesting. I was not disappointed!

Burkholder’s biggest ethical concerns are 1) Digital manipulation 2) Invasion of privacy and 3) Use of overly graphic images. Of all of these, I found her discussion of digital manipulation the most troubling. Photos are expertly re-touched with the use of photoshop and without the reader/viewer ever knowing in some cases. Of course, the use of photoshop on cover models and in magazine ads is a topic of enormous debate, especially considering the huge impact that these ads have on girls, women, and societal body image as a whole (which is enough to talk about in another post entirely), and is a topic frequently covered by websites like Jezebel . But the example that Burkholder provides shows that digital alteration of photos can affect more than just body image:

“Imagine this conversation between the photojournalist and his editor: “Blur her eyes a bit to give the illusion of tears – you know the public loves drama – and while you’re at it, cut out the fourth child, no one has to know about him, three children is enough to make a point.””

Yikes! What solution then, can help resolve the issue of the unethical use of programs like Photoshop? Burkholder suggests we borrow these ethical guidelines from our neighbors to the North (aka Canadian Association of Journalists)

• Photojournalists are responsible for the integrity of their images. We will not alter images so that they mislead the public.
• We will explain in the photo caption if a photograph has been staged.
• We will label altered images as photo illustrations.

She also links to the National Press Photographer’s Association for their guidelines on photojournalism ethics.

Of the three ethical concerns Burkholder raises, which do you think is the most troubling? If you are a photographer and/or photojournalist, what’s your personal stance on the use of Photoshop? And where do you draw the line at getting the shots you need?

As my classmates may already know (in which case, sorry for the redundancy), my first life-changing interaction with Web 2.0 was not with Facebook. It wasn’t even with MySpace. Rather, it was in the form of traditional media (the O.G. of traditional media, might I add): the book.

Specifically, a young adult novel by one Cecily Von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it chronicles the lives of impossibly wealthy high schooler’s who freely roam the streets of Manhattan in haute couture. Now, what I was doing reading these books at age 13 (or how I got my Mom to buy them for me) is beyond me- they’re ludicrously inappropriate for anyone under the age of 17 to be reading (and 17 is even pushing it).

Through GG I gathered that French cigarettes were not gross and don’t cause cancer, that labels were to be lusted after, and that talking s*** about one’s peers anonymously online was a big hit. It got me thinking: is Gossip Girl really at the root of my generation’s obsession with Web 2.0? Continue Reading »