Ethics, Morality and the Law: A Discussion on September 11

Ali Muhammed Khan, Virginia Commonwealth University

The events of September eleventh, 2001 had an indelible effect on the American national psyche, for the cultural, historical, and societal significance of the event, as well as the literally continuous media coverage of it, contribute to the permanence of this event in American history. The media?s role in creating this etching onto the American collective consciousness cannot be ignored. The media has a necessity to cover the events that are occurring as they occur; the means which the media utilized in order to achieve its ends, however, by using graphic images of the attacks, were not at a similar level of necessity. By applying various ethical principles and media values to the coverage, one finds that the ethical decision behind the ultimate coverage of the event appears unethical when compared to the public?s reaction to it . Further examination of this apparent conflict of interest finds that the media?s loyalties? monetary and otherwise ? were to blame for such unbalanced coverage. Thus, while the images of destruction and chaos have become ingrained into all Americans who lived to see the events of September eleventh, it is unfortunate that these images are also symbolic of the damaged relationship of American media with its audience ? as well as of the proverbial fraying of the American societal fabric itself.

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