Voices of a generation: Media, ethics and bailouts

By Alana Vineberg on February 5, 2009

As a young woman edging my way closer to graduation and onto the job scene, I cannot help but feel pessimistic about the future.

The degree of shortsightedness and greed that has ruled Western political and economic philosophy for the last several decades has seemingly purged our self-righteous society of any moral compass. 

As a future journalist I understand the implication of misinformation, the importance of balance, and diversified perspectives and opinions, but what about ethics? 

The media is an industry; I strongly believe  itis responsible to the public. What place do ethics have in any industry, especially one that depends on advertising revenue?

With the collapse of the financial industry and the American automotive industry, I cannot help but suspect that lack of ethical judgment played a role.

In terms of the credit crisis, collapse of the housing market, asset-backed commercial paper, plummeting world markets, and bank bailout packages, it is arguable all of them had been foreseen by many and were preventable. 

Reputable and supposedly trust worthy financial institutions investing our money in asset-back paper and securing mortgages that could not be repaid is a problem that will affect us all. 

From government pensions, to academic scholarship funds, to a global recession, now the public is responsible to pick up the pieces and bailout corporations that we believed were trustworthy.

The same can be said for the American automotive industry. The industry is failing because instead of being forward thinking and innovative, they continued to invest in the development and construction of larger gas guzzling vehicles knowing full well that an energy and environmental crisis is looming ever closer. 

This ‘too big to fail’ industry employs too many people to not merit another taxpayer bailout. Even though poor decisions and government bureaucracy continue to plague this failing industry and waste billions of taxpayer dollars, there is no guarantee that these hundreds of thousands of jobs will be secure for the future. 

Consumer confidence is lower than it has been in decades and advertisers will be investing less and less in both print and broadcast media.

With the already concentrated ownership in Canada and the great indebtedness of CANWEST, one of Canada’s larger media conglomerates that will surely be required to sell off some of its assets, now is the time to set new standards in terms of media ownership in Canada. If corporate Canada and corporate America cannot be trusted to use good judgment and continuously hang themselves with conflicts of interest and double standards, we should be concerned at the low level set for ethics and integrity in industry. 

From a business standpoint, media corporations can very well be the next industry to fall victim to the widening financial crisis, the implications of which would result in the further narrowing of divergent sources of information. In a democratic and diverse country such as ours, allowing this to happen would be ethically irresponsible. 

 

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