Journalism: hard or easy task?

“You have to go where the story is to report on it. As a journalist, you’re essentially running to things that other people are running away from.” – Lester Holt

I found today’s guest speaker extremely attention-grabbing. A Professor in Communication, he taught us some great aspects of research and media ethics.

I loved the fact that he started his presentation by saying: “Truth is good, but sometimes it is better not to know it.” While I totally agree with this statement, I still believe that it is better to be hurt by the truth, than to be confronted with a lie.

Moving onto the core of his presentation, he mainly focused on the ethical choices in the news values, and the different factors that influence media to choose its news and international stories.

What I learned is that what will determine the publication of an article is the anticipated consequences that we can expect from it. Statistics show that negative news, such as conflicts or deaths, are more newsworthy than stories with a positive outcome, which surprised me a lot in the first place.

Selecting news is all about choice and rationality. A lot of us, including me, think that we do not need more media in our lives since each one of us is a ‘journalist’, and each one of us has become an ‘editor’. It turns out we are all wrong. In reality, we need it more than ever. But let’s not forget the actual editors, who come up with all the qualitative judgements.

While listening to all of this, I started asking myself: we hear a story, we write about it, but then do we publish it immediately? What happens is that in like any other field, journalists face competition. While you might be the best editor, your competitors will also publish about the same topic. The question is then, how can you actually differentiate yourself in the market? How far can you go? Can you violate privacy?

All of the above are major questions that have to be taken into account.

In my family, everyone is oriented towards different professions. We have some doctors, some engineers, some designers, some hospitality managers, some teachers. But the one I respect the most is my grandfather, former journalist. He has experienced so many different things in life that today make him a proud person of what he has achieved. He once told me, “Being a journalist is hard. But what makes you successful is accepting the challenges. Get the facts right, tell the story fairly, and you will be fine.” Since then, it made me realize that if you want to become a successful person in whatever field you want to proceed in, all you have to do is live with the challenges, accept failure as a learning process, and never lose the motivation to accomplish your goals.

Conflict Minerals

“Say ‘NO’ to conflict minerals.”

Until recently, I believed that conflict minerals did not exist anymore. It turned out I was wrong. I read such devastating articles that my brain was refusing to accept any further information.

Democratic Republic of Congo. A rich nation in gold and other minerals, they say. But do any of you realize what stands behind all of this prosperity? Violence, torture, and nothing more than pure human devastation.

While you wake up in your cozy room, and drink your cup of coffee in front of your favorite morning show, people on the other side of the planet are forced to work under terrible conditions. They work in mines controlled by armed groups. They face violence. They suffer. This is their daily life.

Were you aware of the fact that you are contributing to this whole process? Probably not. Neither was I.

Let me tell you one thing, the connection of our consumer appetites and the whole violence occurring there, is as a result of our smartphones, laptops and tablets. If only we could know, as consumers, where do these products actually come from…

I am the kind of person that supports peace, and that desires the very best for our nations. I am certainly not willing to support crimes against humanity.

What many of us do not realize is that as individuals and business partners, the fate of many people is in our hands. Luckily, we have the power to prevent this from happening any longer.

Together with the implementation of new laws, companies are forced to disclose their use of conflict minerals. Fighting against crimes related to these minerals is a legal requirement and a priority for corporations around the world. That’s why more and more businesses today are taking a deeper look at their supply chains.

If you aren’t sure about the origin of these minerals, then ask your suppliers, and your suppliers will ask their suppliers, and so on. So before opening a business, have this in mind.

Personally, I strongly support all companies disclosing the origin of their minerals, since it is more than obvious that supply chains with conflict-free products generate more profit. If you cannot demonstrate this as a company, well then you can be sure that you will be thrown out of the market.

I believe it is very important to show us, consumers, what goods we are actually purchasing. Where they come from. Under what conditions they were made.

If a company ensures me that I purchase the right goods coming from the right minerals, then I would be very pleased to hear that I support efforts to stop such wars and crimes. And I will definitely continue to do business with that company.

It is not that difficult, is it? All we have to do is work together, and ensure that our business community is not contributing to the funding of crimes against humanity.

Together, we can always make a better world.

Inside Job: The Ethics of the Financial Crisis

“What we know about the global financial crisis is that we don’t know very much” – Paul Samuelson

Inside Job is a gripping documentary directed by Charles Ferguson, filmmaker. I highly recommend it to those of you who want to learn more about the actual truth behind the whole global financial crisis of 2008.

What surprised me a lot, is that everything began back in the 1980’s. During this period of 30 years, more or less between 1980 and 2008, occurred a deregulation in the financial sector, which immediately led to excessive and reckless risk-taking, and a lot more, such as gambling, massive fraud, conflicts of interest, and even sabotage.

As a result, there was not only a massive decline in the financial stability for the global masses, but also a massive incline in the financial gain for a minority of heads in high finance and government. What is even worse is that all of this still continues today. It is a trend we hardly can escape from. We have been trapped in it, and we are the ones paying for the massive consequences.

After watching the entire documentary, I did learn a lot of new aspects on this specific matter, but most of all it left me hanging around with different emotions, and still today while writing this post, two weeks after having watched it.

I was really alarmed by the fact that regulators used our money, the citizen’s money to pay back for the crisis they had caused. Most of all that they operated in a climate of drugs and prostitutes.

It is still very hard for me to realize all of this is an actual true-life robbery story, which shows us the world in which we live, surrounded by thieves that get away with everything, that do illegal business, and that control us. Most of all, it shows a long-lasting crime that did not get any punishment. And why is that? Nobody knows. It makes me think of a horror movie. Very depressing because it is shockingly true.

The whole of this system is a pure mockery of capitalism. But not only, of democracy as well. The crisis that the American economic policy elite caused did not hurt them at all. Instead, it hurt us: society. It was their mess, but it is always society who cleans everything up. I believe, this is not democracy as we pictured it in the first place, is it? Living in corruption and lack of ethics is not what we want. At least, it is not what I want. For this, we need to change. The question I want to ask you is: How?

Global Commons and the Environment

“We are using resources as if we had two planets, not one. There can be no ‘plan B’ because there is no ‘planet B’.” – Ban Ki-moon

This week’s topic was mostly focusing on the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, as well as how to ensure we keep promoting economic growth without harming our environment.

The subject of protecting the environment is one which is very important to me. All my life, I grew up believing that we, humanity, have some sort of a ‘moral obligation’ to the world. Since we have been living on this planet for centuries, we are the ones responsible for taking great care of it. Unfortunately, it is sad to say that we are also the ones responsible for polluting and destroying it. Man-made disruptions have been affecting ecosystems more than ever. We have been creating danger for both us and animals.

One of the biggest issues is indeed the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’. It occurs when a group of individuals, all acting in their own self-interest, deplete common resources to the detriment of a larger group. An example we should not forget is overfishing, which not only removes essential predators, but is also a threat to local food sources. Another one is traffic congestion, which creates a negative externality: pollution. What is unfair here is that it is always society paying for its costs. What I find worrying is that we will never be free from such issues. There will always be negative consequences whatever humanity decides to undertake. For instance, according to the Vice-President of the World Bank: “The wars of the next century will be about freshwater.” Take a second and think, when you hear this, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Concern, indeed.

After all, I believe we should not lose hope. Over the last few decades, different international agreements (e.g. Kyoto Protocol) have been put in place designed to protect our environment, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which has reduced the effects on climate change. All of this, leads me to the following statement: “Personally, I appeal more to the modernists.” I do have faith that science and innovation will manage to overcome the growth problems we currently face. We, human beings are exceptional, and we should not let others manipulate us. I further support the idea that innovation is an unlimited resource, and that it allows for autoregulation.

Let’s not forget that biodiversity is important, and that earth is our home. It is where we live, and I believe that most of us agree on the idea of living in a better world, rather than in a polluted dump. My advice would be to always choose to do what is morally right and good to society, rather than simply transferring your personal costs to others.

Ethics of Making and Sustaining Peace

“There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This week, we discussed the topic of “Ethics of making and sustaining peace”, which I believe is a very important one since it allowed me to understand more in depth how different theories evolve around this subject.

What I found particularly interesting with regard the just peace and ethics of peace-making, are the set of principles for just peace proposed by Orend, contractualist and deontologist, who believes that “the just goal of a just war, once won, must be a more just state of affairs than existed prior to war”. In other words, the objective here is to aim at having a restoration, not a random one, but one which will be just and better than the one which existed before war.

Furthermore, I believe that whenever there is a conflict, peace should be considered as the one and only possible solution, and thus, it should be viewed as the main objective. It is important to intervene in order to be able to prevent similar wars from happening in the future, just as Orend explained it. In places such as Syria, however, which has been a major topic of discussion throughout the past few years, nobody is willing to intervene because they do not know how to deal with the transition to peace and peacebuilding, which leads to further discouragement. In situations like these, I believe it is more important to take a proactive stance, whatever the risk is, working to change the current situation towards achieving a balance between peace and justice, as well as between freedom and security, rather than simply neglecting the availability of intervening. According to Bellamy, utilitarian, a single set of principles for just peace is not enough, and here I support his view since we cannot build a bridge without having access to all necessary raw materials.

After all, the theory I support the most is the one of feminists who decided to change the starting point by bringing in a care ethics perspective. In my opinion, they developed the most relevant arguments, since they based themselves on an agreement on interdependence, by including other people’s perspective, of both victims and the international community. In other words, by collaborating, they believe that each party will be able to maximise the benefits to its own community, and thus, achieving peace and justice, freedom and security. As a result, everyone will be better off thanks to partnership. Not to forget that in order to attain a just peace agreement, we must include both its process and content.

Finally, from a personal point of view, I think we should all try to achieve both peace and justice, but if I had to choose I would much rather stick to peace over justice, since I believe it out weights the benefits of the other. Be careful, the more peace you want, the less justice you will have, and vice-versa. Similarly, in rational moments, I would rather give up some of my freedom, in order to receive more security in return. In the end, it is all about finding a balance between all, and taking into account rationality.

Ethics of War

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” – John F. Kennedy

Before assisting to the lecture on “Ethics of War”, I honestly knew very little about the topic itself. I tended to neglect this matter since it did not evoke any interest in me. However, after this week’s discussion and student seminar on “Is torture justifiable?”, I learned a lot, and it made me realize that ethics of war is one of the most important concerns of Global Ethics.

We have seen so far how war has been commonly practiced by our diverse nations, and how societies have developed different ideas about how we refer to war, its purposes, and how it needs to be conducted.

I have often been asking myself how we, individuals, always manage to find excuses about not being able to feed the poor, or provide them with any kind of humanitarian aid, but, however, we always seem to be able to fund a war whenever and wherever it is ‘needed’.

What I personally find very interesting here is how the “Just war theory”, justifications of how and why wars are fought, has evolved over time with its two distinct aspects, known as “Just ad bellum” and “Just in bello”.

The first one deals with reasons to go to war: “What is your objective? What are the alternatives that can be taken into consideration?”. The one point I find positive here is that it tries to prevent war from happening.

Whereas, the second one deals with arguments of how to behave while in war: “The justice of conduct of war”. The advantage here is that it really seeks to limit the suffering which has been caused. We know that no war is forever, therefore, we should agree on the same principles that will allow us to live as neighbours afterwards.

Moreover, we have seen how Wheeler, utilitarian and deontological, opposes Walzer’s contemporary contractualist beliefs.

If I had to choose between who draws best on the just war theory, I would stick to Wheeler’s arguments. I believe that the importance lies at the heart of the individuals’ lives. It is crucial to minimize the killing of individuals, and not the survival of the state and of political communities.

Suppose you are facing a war with the choice to follow either contractualist beliefs or utilitarian. What would you fight for? Fighting to protect the innocent or fighting to protect the survival of the country? You should ask yourself: in reality who wins? Does our society seek to preserve the life of citizens, or does it defend the state as a whole?

Global Distributive Justice

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” – Aristotle

There are 196 countries in the world. 25 of them are very rich, defined as having an average wealth per person of over $100,000 a year. Unfortunately, far more countries are quite poor where the per capital wealth is under $1000 a year, or under three dollars a day.

Now, you might wonder why some countries are wealthier than others, and from where this significant difference emerges.

Some of the main reasons as to why countries are rich and others poor, highly depends on the quality of their institutions, and thus, the level of corruption, the culture they have, the access to natural resources or even colonialism.

We, who are living in the richest parts of the world, have been benefiting a lot throughout the years. We take advantage of what is offered to us, enjoy our lifestyle, and tend to neglect the rest of the world.

Statistics show that poor countries have been subsidising the wealth of rich countries. But shouldn’t it be the other way round?

The simple fact that the richest 1% of the world, have so much more than everybody else, is already shocking. Even though, we always seem to debate about inequality these days, very little action is actually undertaken towards improvement.

The way I see it, things are way worse than we could have ever expected them to be.

The link to the global distributive justice lies in here. It is essentially concerned with the rules and principles determining how societies allocate goods, services, and incomes.

I strongly support the idea that each individual’s interests and necessities should be met by a certain amount of commodities in such a way, that each one will have an equal standard of living with respect to the basic needs of life. In my opinion, there should be equality among societies. Just because one was born in a poor family should not be punished for it by receiving nothing in return.

We should support each other in difficult times and try to adjust the unfair distribution of wealth.

After having researched more into depth about the different theories on justice, it allowed me to adopt an even more secure position of what I believe our world ought to be.

Trapped between the two main approaches, I choose to defend the globalists, who believe differences between states should not exist, over the statists, who adopt different principles of justice between nations. For this, I support Pogge and Singer’s points of view, that we should think of our world as a whole, as one unit. And thus, apply the same principles globally without any restrictions.

Suppose, an international company practices distributive justice. For every extra hour of work, their employees get compensated. For instance, what happens when you have worked 20 extra hours this week and received €300, while your co-worker in New-York only worked 10 extra hours and received €350. Does the firm still exercise justice? Not only should there be social equality, but also employment equality.

To conclude, it is extremely important to consider the following when thinking about global distributive justice: ‘What should we distribute? Who should we distribute it to? Following what types of allocation?’