Recently, concerns regarding media ethics have become a hot topic amongst the American public. On top of already existing media outlets like Television, Radio, and the Internet, there seems to be new, more medium specific outlets, coming out every day, each with their own set of ethical issues. According to a 2006 national poll administered by Opinion Research Group, as stated in Tom Cooper’s article, Between the Summits: What Americans Think About Media Ethics, Americans indicated the ethical issues they were most concerned about in the media. These issues included, but are not limited to, media biasness or one-sidedness, media dishonesty, inaccuracy, exaggeration, incomplete reporting, and rude/pushy/obnoxious media behavior. Additionally, more than two-fifths of the survey’s respondents indicated that they were concerned with some form of truth telling (Cooper, 2008).
Although the article discusses these issues as if they exist on separate platforms, it should be noted that multiple issues could exist within one media sphere. For example, all of the issues listed in the previous paragraph can be found within the field of Journalism alone. As a matter of fact, each of those issues can be found within just one episode of Nancy Grace’s HLN show, Nancy Grace. According to Grace’s own website, she is described as “an outspoken, tireless advocate for victims’ rights” (Grace, 2012). Additionally, according to HLN’s website, “Nancy Grace” is television’s only justice themed/interview/debate show for those interested in the breaking news of the day” (HLN, 2015). Although this may sound good in and of itself, upon closer inspection of Nancy Grace and her show, she can be seen repetitively pushing each of the previously mentioned ethical boundaries.
Arguably, the two ethical issues she encroaches on the most are the issues of media biasness/one-sidedness and rude/pushy/obnoxious media behavior. In regards to the ethical issues of media biasness/one-sidedness, Grace will always side with what or whom she determines in the victim. Additionally, she will spend the entirety of the episode presenting the story form the perspective she favors and never present the argument of the other side. In regards to the issue of rude/pushy/obnoxious media behavior, Grace is always talking over her guests that attempt to provide evidence contrary to what she believes. Additionally, she spends the majority of the “debate” segments on her show not contributing to the debate itself but belittling the guests that don’t agree with her.
To determine how others viewed Nancy Grace and her questionable ethics, I conducted five interviews of different aged people familiar with her show. Ultimately, the majority of responses were similar to my own. One interviewee stated, “It’s hard to watch really. It just makes me mad that she can get away with a lot of that stuff.” When probed further about what “that stuff” was, the interviewee explained that there have been times when Grace has been proven wrong or caught adhering to her own agenda but nothing ever comes of it. Another stated, “I usually just change the channel. My mom watches her though and I think it’s meant for that demographic.” However, one interview offered some points that were contrary to the popular opinion. This particular interviewee, a middle aged female, stated, “I know that it’s marketed to people like me and I don’t always agree with everything she says or does. But I do think that she does make some good points now and then. I guess that I’m able to look past some of the questionable things she does because I agree with some of the points she makes while doing them.”
Cooper, T. (2008). Between the Summits: What Americans think about media ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 23. 15-27. DOI: 10.1080/08900520701753106
Grace, N. (2012, January 1). About – Nancy. Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.nancygrace.com/about.html
Nancy Grace. (2015, January 1). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.hlntv.com/shows/nancy-grace