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.

Code of Ethics for Celebrity Gossip Bloggers

Bloggers Code of Ethics:

Celebrity Gossip Blogs

Amanda Apicelli, Henry Forbes, Annie Zinkus, RJ Marceau, & Dina Cashman


Members of the Society of Celebrity Gossip Blogs believe that sharing insights about those in the public sphere is a critical element to the public.  The duty of celebrity bloggers and journalists is to shed light on the figures that so many look up to.  While these public figures have the right to privacy it is the job of celebrity bloggers and journalists to give the public all the information on their role models and decision makers.  To some extent, these figures need to be held to a higher standard and celebrity bloggers help hold them to those standards all while sharing vital information to the public.  Keeping integrity and honesty at the forefront starts with being thorough and credible.  Members of the society agree that those who benefit financially via the public sphere should be 100% transparent, and if they can not be it is the job of bloggers and journalists to step in and relay the vital information to the public.

Freedom of Speech: The right to a personal opinion, but the need to separate opinion from fact

As a gossip blogger, you have the right to voice your own opinion. You contain the basic rights of producing unique and independent content on the internet. However, you must make it obvious that your opinions are your opinions, and are not cold, hard facts. Opinions about a celebrity or public figure must be presented in a way that would not lead the reader to question validity or lead the reader to believe them to be facts.

Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton values his right to freedom of speech (Hilton, 2015). Although many of the stories that he posts to his blog harshly criticize and mock celebrities and public figures, he has a right to do so. He does a great job at presenting facts and facts, and either starts or ends his posts with is own opinion as to not mix the two and confuse the reader.

Libel and Slander: Avoid posting content that can cause harm to one’s reputation

When it comes to posting images, bloggers should choose photos with an ethical interest in mind. Photos should be relevant to the story and information being portrayed and should not be chosen or shown out of context. Photos should also not be retouched in order to depict a different or untrue message, and if photos have been retouched, it should be stated. Portraying children and people affected by tragedy or grief should be a sensitive subject that should be thought out.

In terms of other content, the accuracy of facts must be checked before making a post public, especially if the information could potentially harm the individuals involved. If a mistake is made on a post, the information should be updated and corrected immediately. In judicial cases, one should wait until a formal charge has been filed before stating facts and names. The blogger should also show good taste when dealing with celebrities and public figures. They should not draw unnecessary attention to a personal or private aspect of a subject’s life that is not already in the public sphere. The pursuit of information should not harm the individual based on their circumstances.

Privacy: Seek permission whenever possible

Gossip bloggers should entertain but also keep an ethical framework in mind, concerning reputations. When faced with using content from social networking websites, bloggers should seek permission whenever possible, when subjects are involved. They should also only use sources and quotes from Facebook and other social media networking sites if necessary and always try to seek permission before posting content from other pages.

If using anonymous account user names, make sure to provide a link to an email contact if subjects in articles have opinions or questions. No name targeting of followers should be allowed on the blog. Followers can share their opinions but should not act harshly towards one another. When posting gossip about others blogger should Make sure all facts and stories are correct to the best of their ability  before instantly sharing with all of the blogger followers.

Gossip bloggers should take care in not accepting bribes.This pertains especially towards individuals who are being posted about if they are really in the wrong. Bribes should also not be accepted by those who wish to persuade bloggers to frame articles in a certain way.

Credibility : Maintain the quality of being trusted and believed in

In any form of Journalism or Writing, being credible is very important. Any media outlet or blogging site that reports false claims can lose their credibility by messing up one report. Sites such as TMZ are a big enough name that if they report false claims they can still hold their high credibility.

TMZ has had its history of false reports. In 2009 TMZ posted a photo of “JFK” partying on a boat with topless young ladies (Sonney 2013). The photo turned out to be from a Playboy spread. TMZ also in 2013 reported that rapper Lil Wayne had died due to seizures (Sonney 2013).  Lil Waynes friends went on Twitter and reported that the rumors were false and Lil Wayne was fine (Sonney 2013). Wayne’s good friend T.I. called out TMZ on this mistake on his Twitter (Sonney 2013). T.I. had some choice words for the organization that aren’t appropriate.

Any blogger specifically in gossip blogging must be credible because once they report any false claims people will turn on you. Especially with the rise of social media and information always accessible being credible is very important.



Hilton, P. (2015). PerezHilton. Retrieved from:

Sonney, J. (2013). The 10 biggest TMZ false reports. Elite Daily. Retrieved from:


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