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Murder in our MidstComparing Crime Coverage Ethics in an Age of Globalized News$
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Romayne Smith Fullerton and Maggie Jones Patterson

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190863531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190863531.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

Risks and Challenges for the Watchdogs

Risks and Challenges for the Watchdogs

Competition, Demonization, and Productive Examination

(p.107) 6 Risks and Challenges for the Watchdogs
Murder in our Midst

Crime Coverage

Oxford University Press

Based on sound Enlightenment ideals, Watchdog journalists’ push to publish names of accused persons and details of crimes has merit: Citizens are seen as rational and considered capable of deciding for themselves whether and how to act on information. But the biggest threats to the commitment to giving citizens the information they need to be free and self-governing are economic ones. In this model, crime coverage decisions can be swayed, consciously or not, by considerations like competition, ownership, shrinking job markets and newsrooms, technology, globalization, and social media. In some instances, accused persons are “monstered” by news coverage for sensationalist ends. Drawing on work by Carol Gilligan, Robert Reiner, James Carey, and others, we argue that the justice orientation central to Enlightenment beliefs must be complemented by a responsibility orientation where people acknowledge their connections to one another as part of the larger social fabric.

Keywords:   rationalism, capitalism, Enlightenment ethics, justice, ethics of care, monstrous other

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