Case in Point: Dale Earnhardt & Privacy

EarnhardT pic

(Photo courtesy from

Since being about 6 years old I have been a fan of NASCAR. Most people believe it is boring and how hard can it be taking a left turn the whole race for 300-500 laps. After going to my first race in Loudon, New Hampshire I was hooked. That race was in 1999 or 2000 and I have been a fan since. The saddest moment in NASCAR history had to be in February 2001 at the Daytona 500 on the final lap with Michael Waltrip leading Dale Earnhardt Jr. around turn 4 and there car owner Dale Earnhardt trying to hold the cars behind him so his son and car drivers could race to the finish. Earnhardt lost control of his car and slammed into the wall in turn 4 collecting Ken Schrader. Earnhardt hit the wall head on and both his car and Schrader’s car slid down the banking into the turn 4-infield grass. Earnhardt was killed on impact and it was a sad time for the NASCAR community.

            A week after his death a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel filed a request to access the autopsy photos of Dale Earnhardt. At the time, Florida law allowed public access to autopsy files (Plaisance, 187). NASCAR and Earnhardt’s widow Teresa Earnhardt denied the request to give the Orlando Sentinel the access to the files. The editor of the Sentinel Tim Franklin argued that the story represented a public issue about the safety in NASCAR and wanted to learn more about how Dale Earnhardt had died (Plaisance, 187). A judge agreed with Teresa Earnhardt saying the photos had no “bona fide newsworthiness.” (Plaisance, 187). Two months later, Florida governor Jed Bush signed a law that prohibited public access to autopsy photos unless a judge approved (Plaisance, 187).

            The issue that is brought up in this Case in Point is privacy. The Orlando Sentinel believed the public should know how Dale Earnhardt had died and the safety measures that should be implemented so another death doesn’t occur on the racetrack. NASCAR and Teresa Earnhardt believe that there was no need to showing the footage because safety measures were implemented but Earnhardt refused to wear the HANS device, which supports your neck and head into the seat. This restricts the whiplash of you head when involved in a crash. In todays NASCAR it is a rule that you must wear this device.


(Photo courtesy from

My thoughts on the issue are that NASCAR and Teresa Earnhardt have the right to refuse the release of the images. I know the Orlando Sentinel wanted to get a great story by getting the photos and bashing NASCAR for safety but it was in bad taste after the sports biggest star died. Since Dale Earnhardt’s crash no one has died in any of the NASCAR’s three major divisions during a race. The safety implications with the Car of Tomorrow to the Next Gen car, safety barriers at all speedways and safety equipment inside the car will continue to improve and protect the drivers and the fans.

Crash Replay, link above. Start at 3:30.


Plaisance, P, L. (2014). Media Ethics. Sage. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Ethical Issue in Good Night and Good Luck

Heslov,G. (Producer) & Clooney, G. (Director). (2005, Oct 7). Good Night and

Good Luck [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Independent Picture.good_night_and_good_luck_ver3_xlg (Courtesy of

The movie Good Night and Good Luck directed by George Clooney, focuses on the fear of Communism and Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and CBS producer Fred W. Friendly decided to expose Joseph McCarthy for his actions towards suspected Communists. Edward R. Murrow is a watchdog for the public to expose Senator Joseph McCarthy and him punishing people who are suspected Communists.

Murrow who is the CBS journalist makes a decision to run a story that involves the United States Air Force and their dismissing of an airman. McCarthy’s committee presented evidence that the airman’s father had Communist ideals. Even with pressure on Murrow to not run the story by the United States Air Force he decided to go with the story and let the viewers know the truth. After CBS, ran a story on Senator Joseph McCarthy they were charged as they were suspected to be Communists. These charges didn’t stop Murrow from presenting evidence on McCarthy even though he was facing legal issues. Murrow invites Senator McCarthy on his show, which leads to him stating Murrow is a communist. After the public realizes that Murrow displayed investigations that were credible against McCarthy the people began to go against the Senator. The Senate votes him off as chairman of the committee.

The ethical issue that Edward R. Murrow displays in this film is being responsible to people of the United States and reporting information even with pressure on him from the Air Force and the United States government. When we think of journalism we want the journalists to report the right information and let the public know what is happening in the country. Murrow was a strong character that proved he was serving the rights of the people and allowing them to know what the government is doing. The strength that Murrow shows with all the pressure on him should be aspired from all future journalists that if they think it’s right to report to the people to run the story.


IMBD (2005). Good Night, and Good Luck. IMBD. Retrieved from

Blog Post #1

DailyShow (Photo courtesy of

The Cooper article was very interesting about mass media and the ethical issues. A survey was conducted and asked what mass media behaviors concerns them the most? (Cooper, 2008).The top 5 concerns were Media bias or one-sidedness 19%, Don’t know/declined to answer 19%, No concerns 17%, Media dishonesty 11%, Invasion of privacy 9% (Cooper, 2008). Some people watch the news on there local news affiates such as NBC 7 news, NewsCenter 5 and Fox 25 in the Boston area. Other people get their news from now a day’s tabloid TV that are based around comedy such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report (Cooper, 2008). These shows do report news but has a satirical wrinkle to it and focuses on a liberal or conservative point of view. Other news organizations such as Fox News and NBC News have there own conservative and liberal shows that attacks the other side of the political spectrum (Cooper, 2008).

The ethical issue that I am addressing is the Brian Williams story and the false reporting of the story in Iraq in 2003. Williams reported that he was on a military helicopter that was hit by an RPG and forced to land. (CBS News, 2015). Over the years, Williams stated he was hit and then later it hit the chopper in front of us and then in 2015 came out and said he wasn’t hit (CBS News, 2015). The story really in my opinion was blown out of proportion. He did misreport but how did it take 12 years to find out this mistake. Some people see it as a travesty that he “lied” about the incident but that is there opinion. Also with his history of false reporting of other events such as Hurricane Katrina he should have been suspended years ago.

The public’s primary issue or concern with the Internet is fraud, spam/viruses and the availability of pornography to children (Cooper, 2008). The main concerns with telephone have telemarketing and wiretapping (Cooper, 2008). These issues all deal with the privacy that humans have when it comes to the Internet and telephone. I interviewed all 5 members of my family. I interviewed my Dad (50 years old), Mom (50 Years old), My Sister Nicole (25 years old), her fiancé Dennis (25 years old) and my sister Ashley (22 years old). I asked all of them what in the media concerns them the most? My parents both stated that the Media Dishonesty is what they were concerned with. They said that not knowing what exactly is happening in Afghanistan, Iraq and Middle East isn’t right and the people should know more about foreign affairs such as ISIS and the government’s response to these organizations. My Sisters and Dennis all said the privacy they have on social media concerns them the most. Even though they can have private accounts and monitor their friends you can still have access to peoples location. Social Media seems like another way to track people by finding out where they are sending out tweets, Facebook statuses and Instagram posts. It seems that in recent months the spam and viruses on these websites specifically Facebook has started to make people uneasy and delete their Facebook accounts. Both age groups said two totally different answers focused around Media Dishonesty and how older people want to know the truth while the “Social Media Generation” 15-25 year olds worry about the privacy they have on the sites. After reading the article by Cooper, interviewing family members and going over past mass media ethical issues it seems that the media will always be doing unethical practices but we most cut down on the severity of what it’s.


CBS News. (2015). More fallout from Brian Williams reporting scandal. CBS News. 

Retrieved from

Cooper, T. (2008). Between the summits: What americans think about media ethics.

Journal Of Mass Media Ethics, 23(1), 15-27. Retrieved from


Louis W. Hodges


(Photo Courtesy

My philosopher is Louis W. Hodges. Louis Hodges grew up in Europa, Mississippi (University of Minnesota, 2009). Hodges earned a Bachelors Degree from Duke Divinity School in 1957 and earned his doctorate in in Christian thought, with an emphasis in Christian Ethics from Duke University in 1960 (University of Minnesota, 2009). Louis W. Hodges joined the faculty at Washington & Lee University in 1960 (University of Minnesota, 2009).

After all these accomplishments and degrees Hodges was the founder of Washington & Lee University’s “Society and Professional Program in professional ethics (University of Minnesota, 2009). He also became the first holder of the Knight Chair in journalism ethics (University of Minnesota, 2009). The Knight Chair is a position at Washington & Lee University that “will enable the university to develop a program with emphasis in three areas” (Wesserman, n.d.). The first area is to expand the curriculum for undergraduate students in journalism ethics for Journalism major but also open for all students (Wesserman, n.d.). The second area is increasing professional education in journalism ethics at the school, regional, national and newsrooms around the country (Wesserman, n.d.). The last area is to educate the general public by creating a team of teachers and editors to address issues in journalism ethics (Wesserman, n.d.). Hodges held this position of Knight Chair in the Ethics of Journalism at Washington & Lee University from 1996-2003 (University of Minnesota).

In Media Ethics: Issues and Cases it discusses about Louis W. Hodges philosophy.His philosophy claims that there is a need for privacy in contrast to the right to privacy(Cobb, 2012). He claims that privacy is necessary for people to develop a sense of themselves and also to protect themselves.(Cobb, 2012). This claim of privacy really relates to technology today and how people need there privacy and have the right to privacy (Cobb, 2012). In any form of social media you have the right to make your profile locked or available for the public. This includes your personal information such as location, DOB and siblings. It will lock who your friends, interests and posts. It also restricts you to only a few pictures as well. I think this feature is only really needed on Facebook that really shows your hometown and personal information on your page. Other social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram are just a little description of yourself that most people don’t include personal information in. His theory of need for privacy in contrast to the right of privacy is important because everyone needs privacy and if you need privacy you should have the right to it. If people’s information wasn’t always private you would know so much more about people then you already know.

In another article from Media Ethics it talks about how Hodges talked about he had 3 ways how to deal with a conflict of interest as a journalist. The 3 ways he stated was get out, recuse or disclose (Media Ethics, 2005). The get out method he described was to just avoid any conflict. Don’t write about the news and change beats (Media Ethics, 2005). His second method was recuse. This method is keeping the same story but giving it to another writer (Media Ethics, 2005). They state in the judicial system that judges use the same exact method to avoid conflict in certain cases (Media Ethics, 2005). The last method was disclosure. This method is if the first two steps don’t work and you must let your audience know what the situation is (Media Ethics, 2005). This method helps disclose the conflict at hand and lets you describe what is really going on.


Cobb, M. (2012). Professional Problems & Ethics. Word Press. Retrieved from

Kraft Foundation. (n.d.). Edward Wasserman, Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics.

                 Kraft Foundation. Retrieved from

Media Ethics. (2005). Conflict and the Professional Setting. Media Ethics Magazine. 

Retrieved from

University of Minnesota. (2009). Journalism Ethicist Louis W. Hodges will retire in 2003. 

                Silha Center for the study of Media Ethics & Law. Retrieved from

#marceau #Hodges