Media Ethics

Media Ethics



































Media Ethics

Part 1: Ethical Analysis Plan


Media ethics refers to the behavior that is observed by newspapers and televisions in publicizing information. The behaviors that they exercise to provide the public with positive information about products that have negative effects are a violation of media ethics. Media ethics aim at regulating the information posted to the public that could affect them negatively. For this reason, they are created to protect the rights of the people. An example is the advertisement of alcohol and other illicit drugs in a positive manner by the media, in order to generate sales by various companies that manufacture the products. The media does not consider the negative side of alcohol and drug consumption in order to promote usage. As a result, drug and alcohol consumption has increased in countries like Australia. The increased consumption of drugs and alcohol has various negative effects on the physical heath of people. These effects are not explained in most of the advertisements by the media. The content that is displayed by the media through these advertisements in order to increase the sale of drugs and alcohol is not ethical.


Background Information

Drug and alcohol consumption is rampant in modern societies today. In countries like Australia, teenagers are mostly known to abuse drugs and alcohol (Marshall, 2012). Australia is a country that is recognized for its excess consumption of alcohol. This is attributed to the positive advertisements made by the media, depicting alcohol use as a good thing. Most nightclubs and parties in Australia are associated with the consumption of alcohol and other illicit drugs. This is because the products are made available to customers, through alcoholic posters and banners that promote consumption.


The media has been known for playing a key role in the increased consumption of drugs and alcohol since 2001.Research that has been conducted ever since, aimed at determining the importance of this role and the effects on consumers.


Analysis Plan of the Ethical Issue

The theory of utilitarianism defines an ethical action as one that yields the most gains and least losses (Cunningham & Turner, 2006). The guiding principle in this theory is the use of utility. The theory of utilitarianism is used to analyze this ethical issue. The plan used is to define the specific issue, identify relevant facts, make assumptions to answer questions about the facts, analyzing the issue using utilitarianism and providing an ethical conclusion. Furthermore, a comparison with Kant’s theory is made to determine the method that is most suitable in addressing the issue.



Cunningham, S., & Turner, G. (2006). The media and communications in Australia. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Marshall, A. (2012). ‘Where’s the Harm Dude?’ Taking the Party out of Party Drugs with Anti-Drug Communication in Strategic Communication – Cases in Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising and Media, Pearson Australia.



Part 2: Ethical Analysis

Clear Definition of the Ethical Issue

It is not ethical for the media to portray the consumption of drugs and alcohol in a positive manner. This is because alcohol and drug consumption affects people’s physical health, especially teenagers. The contents in alcohol can cause liver failure while other drugs damage the brain or lungs. By showing the positive side of using these products, the media puts people’s physical health at risk.


Factual Analysis of the Ethical Issue

Most young people in societies today consume alcohol and other illegal drugs as a way of socializing, through intoxication. The Australian Government reported that the events of mass media have praised the consumption of alcohol. Moreover, alcohol has developed an identity with high profile social events and sporting activities. The consumption of drugs and alcohol occurs due to excessive boredom, the need for pleasure, the urge to satisfy curiosity, the want to amplify social bonds and in order to find a means for escape. According to Dowdall (2009), alcohol consumption is portrayed as harmless and fun-filled right of passage (Dowdall, 2009). Films such as ‘Old School’ (2003) and ‘Super Bad’ (2007) link college drinking to the very best parts of campus life. These films illustrate the statement by Dowdall. However, media sources barely show the consequences of alcohol that depicts the negative side of it (Black, 2010).


Assumptions Needed to Fill Gaps in the Available Facts

It is assumed that the media portray alcohol and drug abuse positively in order to reach out to consumers. Moreover, the advertisements make users aware of the availability of the product. The advertisements are not done to incite the public to use alcohol and other illicit drugs.


Another assumption made is that the link between the media and celebrities makes the consumption of drugs unavoidable, whether positive, negative or neutral.


Additionally, it is assumed that portraying alcohol and drug consumption in a positive way escalates the current usage in Australia.


Analysis Using the Theory of Utilitarianism

A choice that brings up the most benefit to people is one that is ethically correct according to the theory of utilitarianism. According to the issue, the media portrays alcohol and drug consumption in a positive manner, influencing individuals to indulge in the use. The consumption of drugs and alcohol, powered by the media, seemingly maximizes short-term utility for example, happiness or pleasure. However, judging by the long-term consequences of alcohol and other illicit drugs consumption, the utility is decreased. The long-term consequences include substance addiction, physical diseases and accidental harm to others.


Kant’s categorical imperative cannot be used to make such an analysis. This is because it focuses on the motivation behind making such information available to people, while concealing the consequences. This shows that it is not appropriate for analyzing the maximum gain and minimum losses by consumers, through airing such information to the public. For this reason, the utilitarianism theory was chosen for analysis. Whether one considers this issue as ethical depends on the values, rights, principles and the extent of damage brought to people. These factors are followed by assessing the best outcome that suits majority of the people. The utilitarian theory examines whether alcohol and drug consumption is suitable for the public, especially teenagers. This is because of the negative effects of alcohol and drug abuse to them at a tender age. Furthermore, it determines whether the information provided by the advertisements and posters is feasible enough to give rise to alcohol and drug abuse.



Applying the utilitarianism theory to assess the issue of drug and alcohol consumption in Australia gave a clear analysis of the role played by the media ethics in influencing the excessive use. The abuse of privileges to provide the public with positive information, in order to benefit companies that produce alcohol and drugs, has undermined media ethics. This has mostly been done by the public advertisement industry. This industry displays information that promotes alcohol and drug abuse. Reviewing the analysis using the utilitarian method shows that the issue is not ethical.



Black, R. (2010). Popular Culture: An Encyclopedia. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishers. Pg 62.

Dowdall, G. W. (2009). College drinking: Reframing a social problem. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. Pg 58.



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