Conflict in Communication – Media Misrepresentation

‘Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.’  

This quote is taken from the Code of Conduct for journalists as set out by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), however is this a set rule or simply a guideline that is often over looked?

Christopher-Jefferies-007Bearing this in mind I want to raise the case study of Christopher Jefferies, an innocent man wrongly accused for involvement in Joanna Yeates’ murder. Not only was Jefferies accused of murder but was also vilified by the press through harassment, false accusations, and out-right lies.

Even after Jefferies was released on bail the media continued to publish articles that included ‘‘seriously defamatory” allegations and persuaded the audience to doubt his innocence, with articles using ill-gained quotes such as, ‘weird’, ‘strange’, and ‘peeping tom.’ Journalists and paparazzi camped outside his home and followed him around whenever he would try to leave to the point where Jefferies accused them of harassment chris_jefferies_sun_mirrorand invasion of privacy. Jefferies was later released from bail and the police released a statement that he was no longer a suspect, however the tormenting didn’t end there. Jefferies had been accused of many things within the misleading articles and many of his close friends had been persuaded by the press not to trust him. Jefferies was told about how he could sue the press for their witch-hunt and by taking up a legal battle against 8 newspapers, Jefferies won an undisclosed libel pay-out that is said to be ‘substantial’ and received an official apology from the police and the press industry. In July, the Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 for contempt of court over their coverage of Jefferies.

What price do you put on a person’s reputation? Jefferies speaking after the ordeal said, ‘It was like having your personality left in ruins.’

How is it fair to make an innocent person feel like this? Especially when it is said that you are innocent until proven guilty…

What do you think?

A two-part TV series was produced that would show the case from start to finish and would highlight the ‘destructive nature’ of the press. I recommend watching the series as I found it very eye-opening. Part 1 and Part 2.

All the quotes and facts were found by researching articles available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/christopher-jefferies

Mind the gap: Consumer perspectives of ‘ethical’ retailers

I was recently tasked with writing a research report for the Ethics, Issues, and Crisis Management unit on my Public Relations and Communication course. I am required to research into an organisation of my choice and identify any ethical issues that this organisation faces and how this affects their brand reputation and stakeholder communication.

Ethics has always been a part of PR that I have been interested in and this report is a great opportunity to practice researching into ethics for a small report before taking on the task of my dissertation, which also focuses on ethics. I chose Gap as the organisation in focus for the report, not to draw out and Gap logohighlight their ethical issues but to demonstrate how some organisations can struggle to repair reputations after widely covered scandals, such as Gap’s sweatshop and child labour scandals. I have recently ended my part time job at Gap to focus completely on my final year studies and during my time with the organisation I worked with the Southampton team on a number of different CSR events, such as an employees uniform recycle scheme where staff donated old pieces of Gap uniform that could be resold at a stand within West Quay, Southampton to raise money for Rose Road, a charity for disabled children and young people. I think that the current ethical responsibilities that Gap are managing aren’t achieving enough awareness for consumer perceptions to change. From this report I hope to emphasise the need for awareness when reputation management efforts are being made and give recommendations on how organisations can effectively communicate their ethical responsibilities.

In order to gain some consumer perspectives about Gap and ethical retailers I have created a short survey. If you would like to get involved and share your views on ethics within retail please go to my survey.

Teaching the Kids, Reminding the Adults

I must say from a young age I’ve always been a big fan of animated films like ‘A Bugs Life’, ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Monsters Inc’ but as I’ve grown up I’ve started to catch onto the prominent messages within these light-hearted films. When you’re a young child you just see bright friendly characters and you always root for the hero of the film; there’s a bad guy that everyone hates and there’s a friend that helps. We don’t see it as a message being portrayed as a way of teaching us right from wrong.

Disney-Princesses-Wallpaper-disney-princess-6248012-1024-768Disney is the prime example of hiding morals and themes within their stories and there has been large debates over its main goal; teaching kids lessons or giving children the wrong impressions. Without looking into the implications of these messages fully I’d have instantly said they were positive and a great way to teach children morals from a young age. For example, ‘Peter Pan’ taught us that expressing your inner-child is good and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ taught us not to be shallow and beauty is within. However, these messages may be positive towards the opinions of growing children but the overall images presented from Disney I would say are shallow and empty of morals. For example, Disney princesses are role models to young girls; they want to be like them and most importantly ‘look’ like them. All the disney princesses are thin, big eyed and have luscious long hair, which I see as a misrepresentation of reality and is planting false hopes into young girls minds.

MV5BMTU1MTAwMjk1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5NDc4Ng@@._V1_SX214_However, moving back to the prominent messages within children’s films I am going to focus on The Lorax as a modern example of morals being portrayed. (SPOILER ALERT) Rated as a PG the films plot follows a young boy trying to win over the affection of a girl by finding her a real-life tree. Along the way he encounters barriers such as the evil businessman Mr O’Hare and the ex-businessman, who has learnt from his bad ways, called the Once-ler. He has to dig deep into his emotions and morals to understand the bad nature of business and after discovering a way to help everyone and be the hero he wins over the girl. The plot screams out moral messages but my favourite part of all is a song the characters sing about mid-way through the film called ‘How Bad Can I Be’. Below is a video link to the song.

I must say my favourite verse of the song is at 2.18 with the lyrics:

All the customers are buying
And the money is multiplying
And the PR people are lying <—- (Being a PR student and all this line is my favourite)
And the lawyers are denying
Who cares if a few trees are dying
This is all so gratifying

So to sum up, these films that seem so harmless to us when we’re younger in fact attempt to teach lessons and subliminally introduce morals to children from a young age. The Lorax (Universal Pictures) is teaching children ethics of business and the morals behind looking after the planet. Of course children aren’t going to recognise it as a lesson in bad business but they will recognise the heroic storyline of the young boy having a voice over the big man. If you haven’t seen it already then I definitely recommend that you give it a watch, even if you’re an adult.