A MATTER OF WAR AND PEACE: Should Bloggers design well?

George Berkeley said, ‘To be is to be perceived’. As a blogger and hence a constituent of the public sphere, I ennoble myself with the task of facilitating the perception of Truth. Truth is vulnerable to perception, which in turn, is vulnerable to infinite properties through which it is presented to human cognition (Hodder, 1896). From salience, colour, perspective, to layout and framing, personal decisions are at stake. These decisions, conceived collectively,

Hussain, a roadside artist in Pakistan

can determine war and peace, and hence the worth of mankind. Empowered by the functionality of the Internet, it is crucial to mediate between deontological ethics and consequentialism. While proclaiming the truth without regarding the consequences that might befall exposed subjects, we must also regard the consequences of our adding too much personal stance in the presentation of truth. Essentially, if you perceive yourself as ennobled to sustain the public sphere, you should design your blog well to capture mass attention to the Truth. If you are not, there is no obligation to.



1) Hodder, A., 1896, ‘Truth and the tests of truth’,  The Philosophical Review, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1 – 23, viewed 14 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/2176102.pdf?acceptTC=true>

ON AUCTION: Privacy in the Public Sphere

The most prestigious journalism award, The Pulitzer Prizes, honors “meritorious public service rendered” in the field of journalism (The Pulitzer Prizes, n. d.). In the category of investigative journalism, past awards have gone to journalists who exposed the Portland Governor of sexual abuse (The Pulitzer Prizes, 2005)  and the United States government’s hegemonic justification of the Iraq War (The Pulitzer Prizes, 2009). To what extent must a journalist go in order to render “meritorious public service”? 

Neil Goldschmidt, former Portland Governor, confirmed allegations of sexual abuse - The Telegraph, 2011

Habermas argues that the role of journalists is to “facilitate” citizens to make informed decisions concerning aspects that affect their citizenry rights (Ferree et. al, 2002, p. 306), in other words, to sustain the public sphere. By holding accountable government officials who were appointed to protect the rights of the people, journalists preside over the execution of rights. Investigative journalism necessitates investigation, and hence invasion of privacy to a certain extent. The News of the World phone-hacking scandal redirected attention on the dilemma of the public’s right to know versus an individual’s right to privacy (The Telegraph, 2011). 

Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World, arrested for illegal phone hacking - The Telegraph, 2011.

                Privacy, like all other rights, is a claim right. It only functions when the right is protected (Hart, 1955), meaning, others surrender their right to invade the rightholder’s privacy. The Natural Law Theory postulates that in a state of nature, everyone has the right to do everything. Rights are unprotected and are hence ineffective (Hart, 1955). Therefore people submit themselves under legal systems by surrendering certain rights in order to guarantee the protection of other rights. Privacy is a right mankind owe to each other (Strahilevitz, 2005). Unless “charged with the duty to conduct an investigation” (Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act, 1996), the explicit invasion of another’s privacy such as hacking into one’s voicemail, is a violation of that person’s right. Such is the case of News of The World when its editor hacked into Prince William’s voicemail to expose but a “knee injury” (The Telegraph, 2011), or the disgrace elicited in misleading public opinion when its journalist deleted voicemail messages of Milly Dowler in order to “make room for more” (The Telegraph, 2011). The aforementioned conducts violated the very rights they were appointed to protect. In defending their positions by advocating the public’s need to know, journalists should demarcate their responsibilities as a professional from that of other professions. Consequences of journalistic practices should never include the deprivation of citizen’s rights. The absolute adornment of deontological ethics – performing one’s duty without considering its consequences (Freeman, 1994) – is destructive to a journalist. 



1) Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act, 1996, London

2) Ferree, M. M., Gamson, W. A., Gerhards, J. & Rucht, D., 2002, ‘Four models of the public sphere in modern democracies’, Theory and Society, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 289 – 314, viewed 4 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/658129.pdf>

3) Freeman, S., 1994, ‘Utilitarianism, deontology, and the priority of right’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 313 – 349, viewed 12 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/2265463.pdf>

4) Habermas, J., Lennox, S. & Lennox, F., 1964, ‘The public sphere: An encyclopaedia article (1964)’, New German Critique, no. 3, pp. 49 – 55, viewed 11 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy.unisa.edu.au/stable/pdfplus/487737.pdf?acceptTC=true>

5) Hart, H. L. A., 1955, ‘Are there any natural rights?’, The Philosophical Review, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 175 – 191, viewed 4 November 2011, <http://www.utm.edu/staff/jfieser/class/hart.pdf>

6) Strahilevitz, L. J., 2005, ‘A social networks theory of privacy’, The University of Chicago Law Review, vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 919 – 988, viewed 4 November 2011, >http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/4495516.pdf>

7) The Pulitzer Prizes, n. d., The medal: Pulitzer gold, viewed 5 November 2011, <http://www.pulitzer.org/theMedal>

8) The Pulitzer Prizes, 2005, The 2005 Pulitzer Prize winners: Investigative reporting, viewed 11 November 2011, <http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2005-Investigative-Reporting>

9) The Pulitzer Prizes, 2009, The 2009 Pulitzer Prize winners: Investigative reporting, viewed 10 November 2011, <http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2009-Investigative-Reporting>

10) The Telegraph, 2009, ‘Prince’s mobile phone hacked’, 2 September, viewed 7 November 2011, < http://www.telegraph.co.uk>

11) The Telegraph, 2011, ‘Phone hacking: Timeline of the scandal’, 10 November, viewed 5 November 2011, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/8634176/Phone-hacking-timeline-of-a-scandal.html>

[rebecca] BLACK FRIDAY: Copyright Infringements and Intertextuality

In 1976, Walt Disney Productions sued Sony Corporation for its sale of the VCR on grounds that the VCR recording function allows unlimited recording of programs – including those by Disney – that are unconsented by Disney, and hence constituted copyright infringement

Girl watching the Pink Panthe - Mail Online, 2007

(Fisher, 1988). Two contradicting judgments arose. Justice Stevens ruled in favour of Sony on grounds that such VCR recordings by audiences who cannot view it during broadcast do not constitute any purpose for profit making, and are hence deemed as “fair use” (p. 1664). Contrastingly, Justice Blackmuns argues that audiences who cannot view Disney programs during broadcast times constitute a “potential market”, of which Sony VCR’s recording functions deprive Disney of it (p. 1665).

The fair use clause, which consents reproduction of intangible productions as long as it is not purposed for profit or deprives the owner of profit, purposes to achieve the “advancement of knowledge” (Phan, 1998, p. 171). It is incessantly cited in defence of plagiarism (Vudrag, 2011). Based on the nature of justice, the need for copyright lies in the rationale that man deserves the fruit of his labour (Bruncken, 1916). Reproduction of one’s creative work that will deprive one the due incentives violates copyright. The unconstrained mode of communication empowered by the Internet has enabled unlimited distribution of intangible properties (Phan, 1998). The primary predicament in enforcing copyright online is the vast number in which reproductions occur. The increased modes of communication also exacerbated the definition of the form of reproductions that constitute copyright infringement.

If I transduce Rebecca Black’s Friday Youtube video recording into a superhero comic, will I be liable of copyright infringement? In my defense, intertextuality contends that all ideas arise from a single network (Porter, 1986). Authors of creative productions merely sew ideas together into communicable and tangible forms. However, this is an utopian argument as it would devoid copyright of its 

foundations to protect the right of the copyright holder. It might even demoralize creative efforts, and hence the very purpose of copyright to advance knowledge (Phan, 1998, p. 171). As such, we should employ deontology in the use of information and creative productions. As the protection of copyright relies on our abstaining from violating it (Fisher, 1988), as long as our duty to not violate it is upheld relative to us, assessing whether consequences consequential of intertextuality arose at the monetary expense of the copyright holder should be the toil of copyright lawyers.



1) Bruncken, E., 1916, ‘The philosophy of copyright’, The Musical Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 477 – 496, viewed 6 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/737903.pdf?acceptTC=true>

2) Fisher, W. W. III, 1988, ‘Reconstructing the fair use doctrine’, Harvard Law Review, vol. 101, no. 8, pp. 1659 – 1795, viewed 8 November 2011,   <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/1341435.pdf>

3) Phan, D. T., 1998, ‘Will fair use function on the Internet?’ Columbia Law Review, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 169 – 216, viewed 5 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/1123397.pdf?acceptTC=true>

4) Porter, J. E., 1986, ‘Intertextuality and the discourse community’, Rhetoric Review, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 34 – 47, viewed 4 September 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/466015.pdf?acceptTC=true

5) Vudrag, P. 2011, ‘Fair use in news and reviews’, GPSolo, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 30 – 31, viewed 12 November 2011, < http://proquest.umi.com.ezlibproxy.unisa.edu.au>

BONE FOR THE DOG: Contesting ideologies in broadcast advertisements

If Media Prima expects public condonement of its Ramadan advertisement, it must have forgotten the Allah issue in 2010 (Kuppusamy, 2010) or the unlawful demolishment of Hindu temples by City Hall in 2006 (Pandi, 2011). Fraught with interethnic tension, race is salient among Malaysians (Neo, 2006). In accordance with social identity theory, the social identities of Malaysians are hence racially defined (Reicher, 2004). 

Screen shot from Media Prima's Ramadan advertisement - Scwatch, 2011

                The advertisement revolves around suggestions of how the Chinese should behave during Ramadan for the sake of respecting the Muslims (Yeow, 2011). The furor it received is expected (Yeow, 2011). The social cognitive theory of Albert Bandura(2000) states that we are simultaneously products and producers of our immediate environment. Independent of whether the advertisement was racist, bias will still be perceived by the Chinese due to racial controversies within Malaysia. Biased judgment of media bias is persistent when controversies are involved, as evidenced in the media

Malaysian Malay Muslims protesting the use of "Allah" in Bibles - Malaysian Justice, 2010.

coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict which observed infinite audience accusations pertaining to issues such as disproportionate coverage of Israelites and Palestinians, and stereotyping (Kressel, 1987). Therefore, producers of any kind of media intended for mass consumption should consider the socio-cultural context as well as the historical background of the intended audience in order to minimize misunderstandings (Turner, 2007) and maximize communication.

                Essentially, all forms of mass communications should uphold the duty in accordance to the quality exalted by The Pulitzer Prizes – to render “meritorious public service” (The Pulitzer Prizes, n. d.). Productions should be governed by consequentialism, where every consequence that might transpire from audience consumption is critically evaluated for the benefit of the people to make informed decisions. All advocacies of hegemony should be eradicated as hegemonies deprive a person the basic right to make an informed and unaffected decision (Wilkinson, 1999). The agenda setting theory embodies the infinity of media power. Empowered to choose the perspective, the and the amount of information to disclose on a given topic, media producers are able to dictate to the masses what is important, what has happened and what never happened (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Surely such powers should tempt the beholder to be ethically utilitarian and hence use the media to achieve the greatest good for mankind? Perhaps Media Prima should make an advertisement where the social identities of the subjects are not defined racially but rather, in nationalist principles for the sake of racist Malaysia. 




1) Bandura, A., 2000, ‘Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 75 – 78, viewed 8 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/20182630.pdf?acceptTC=true>

2) Freeman, S., 1994, ‘Utilitarianism, deontology, and the priority of right’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 313 – 349, viewed 12 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/2265463.pdf>

3) Kressel, N. J., 1987, ‘Biased judgments of media bias: A case study of the Arab-Israeli dispute’, Political Psychology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 211 – 227, viewed < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/3791301.pdf>

4) Kuppusamy, B., 2010, ‘Can Christians say “Allah”? In Malaysia, Muslims say no’, Time 8 January, viewed 2 November 2011, <http://in.reuters.com/article/2010/07/27/idINIndia-50423520100727>

5) McCombs, M. E. & Shaw, D. L., 1972, ‘Agenda-setting of the mass media’, The Public Opinion Quarterly <, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 176 – 187, viewed 9 November 2011,http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/2747787.pdf>

6) Neo, J. L., 2006, ‘Malay Nationalism, Islamic supremacy, and the constitutional bargain in the smulti-ethnic composition of Malaysia’, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, vol. 13, pp. 95 – 118, viewed 31 October 2011, < http://content.ebscohost.com.ezlibproxy.unisa.edu.au>

7) Pandi, A. R., 2011, ‘Blogging and political mobilization among minority Indians in Malaysia’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Hawai’i.

8) Reicher, S., 2004, ‘The context of social identity: Domination, resistance, and change’, Political Psychology, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 921 – 945, viewed 4 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/3792283.pdf>

9) The Pulitzer Prizes, n. d., The medal: Pulitzer gold, viewed 5 November 2011, <http://www.pulitzer.org/theMedal>

10) Turner, J., 2007, ‘The messenger overwhelming the message: Ideological cues and perceptions of bias in television news’, Political Behaviour, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 441 – 464, viewed 10 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/4500256.pdf>

11) Wilkinson, D., 1999, ‘Unipolarity without hegemony’, International Studies Review, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 141 – 172, viewed 11 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/3186383.pdf>

12) Yeow, H. C., 2011, ‘Media Prima pulls out racist Ramadan ads’, The Malaysian Insider, < 2 August, viewed 8 November 2011 http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/media-prima-pulls-out-racist-ramadan-ads/>

DOCTORED: Kim Jong Il, Hilary Clinton, and ethical photojournalism

Kim Jong Il shown with his regiment. Experts allege the image to be doctored as highlighted in the encircled area - Time, n. d.

In an attempt to quell rumours that Kim Jong Il is suffering from a stroke or has even died, the North Korean media released the above image, which experts allege to be doctored(Time, n. d.). Aside from manipulation to attain ideological goals as epitomized by North Korea, ethical conflicts involved in photojournalism are exacerbated by cultural disparities. Globalization and the Internet have enabled published works to reach both the intended and

Girl caught in Iraq War. High Desert Wanderer, 2006.

unintended audience, heightening possibilities of misunderstandings by the unintended audience concerning ideological conflicts, engendering bias judgments among the audience that may affect vital decision-makings (Kressel, 1987).

Photojournalism relates news through perspectives of photographs and captions (Lucaites & Hariman, 2001). The power of salience and perspectives in constructing meaning (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006) is central in photojournalism. Due to the seeming appearance of neutrality, there is a propensity for the masses to believe in photographs rather than written pieces (Lucaites & Hariman, 2001). However, editing technologies exposes the Archilles heel of photojournalism. The digital removal of both Hilary Clinton and Audrey Tomason from an original photograph of otherwise male politicians has infuriated feminists against Jewish paper, Di Tzeitung, which defended itself on the grounds of Jewish culture which does not visually display women (The Guardian, 2011).

Ethics is the conflict between a personal standpoint and the requirement of impartiality (Nagel, 1987). Ennobled with the task of sustaining the public sphere (Ferree et. al, 2004), journalists should demarcate personal stance from impartiality (Nagel, 1987) when providing context for raw information. The culture advocated by Di Tzeitung is pardonable as long as proper acknowledgements pertaining to photographic alterations were made because this does not alter the


Doctored image of Di Tzeitung removed Hilary Clinton and Audrey Tomason - The Guardian, 2011.

fact that both Hilary Clinton and Audrey Tomason were present. If culture equals the maintenance of methods within a society that is constantly changing (Wallerstein, 1990), then communication to a people is most effective when using the method of communication they are most familiar with. The duty of journalism is after all, to inform. However, this deontological view of photojournalism ethics must be balanced by a consequentialist stance. Doubtless the duty is to inform regardless of consequences, but the consequences of embedding or approving the embedment of particular ideologies must be accounted because it will affect Truth indefinitely. Just like the widely circulated photograph of the Russian Revolution which omitted Leon Trotsky and thereby largely negated his contribution to the revolution (Time, n. d.), the case of Di Tzeitung will only be pardonable if acknowledgements of alterations were made.




1) Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. 2006. Reading images. Chapter 6: The meaning of composition, Routledge, London.

2) Kressel, N. J., 1987, ‘Biased judgments of media bias: A case study of the Arab-Israeli dispute’, Political Psychology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 211 – 227, viewed < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/3791301.pdf>

3) Nagel, T., 1987, ‘Moral conflicts and political legitimacy’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 215 – 240, viewed 11 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/2265265.pdf>

4) Lucaites, J. L. & Hariman, R., 2001, ‘Visual rhetoric, photojournalism, and democratic public culture’, Rhetoric Review, vol. 20, no. 1/2, pp. 37 – 42, viewed 4 November 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/466134.pdf>

5) Time, n. d., Top 10 doctored photos, viewed 11 November 2011, < http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1924226_1949553,00.html>

6) The Guardian, 2011, ‘Orthodox Jewish paper apologises for Hilary Clinton deletion’, 10 May, viewed 2 November 2011, < http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/10/jewish-paper-apologises-hillary-clinton>

7) Wallerstein, I., 1990, ‘Culture as the ideological battleground of the modern world-system’, Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 31 – 55, viewed 8 October 2011.