Friday, September 24, 2010
Analysis of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics
Because my TwHistory idea seems to fit better under the guidelines of the second assignment in Dr. Rich Rice's Engl 5361 class (Theories of Invention in Writing), I'm going to first focus on a rhetorical analysis of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics.
Journalism and rhetoric are soulmates, I suppose, in the ways in which we frame our vision of the society we experience through media. News media portray (and magnify) such a tiny fragment of life that the rhetorical emphasis is profound, and I wondered what basis upon which do we build our discourse. Are we Platonic idealists, or sophist pragmatists?
This code could help to form a better understanding of that position. It is meant to guide journalistic decisions toward a better community of practitioners but also a better society as a whole, a very Athenian ideal.
My analysis will examine the rhetorical choices made in the document itself, looking for direct connections to the classical foundations of rhetoric and to particular rhetors that separate those two primary positions of thought.
It's important to also note that this code is a voluntary commitment for journalists to make. It is not enforced in any way by a central institution, which means its power, fittingly enough, is purely rhetorical. It provides a framework for a messy and complicated job, and the execution of the framework typically involves a dialectic process, since no document ever could possible cover all of the variations of possible actions a journalist could take. Most ethical discussions in a newsroom are not black and white. They are in essence Platonic dialogues, searching for an agreed upon truth, in which extensive discussion leads to a moment of enlightenment, decision and action.
My analysis will be offered as a short slideshow video, prompting thought about the division between sophistry and Platonic idealism in the modern world.
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