Our recent interview with Sounds True founder Tami Simon, whom I guess you might label a “spiritual entrepreneur.” She’s built a successful multimedia publishing company with a mission to disseminate “spiritual wisdom” by diverse teachers and thinkers like Pema Chödrön and Eckhart Tolle, Daniel Goleman and Brené Brown. She offers compelling lessons on joining inner life with life in the workplace — and advice on spiritual practice with a mobile device.
I fear the copious media coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s handling of same-sex marriage might drowned out a pivotal case the Court is hearing right now. At stake is who owns the stuff of which we are made.
“A patent isn’t a reward for effort. A patent is a reward for invention. And Myriad didn’t invent anything. The gene exists in the body. All Myriad did is find it.”
But, it may not be as simple as that. Research companies want to be compensated for their efforts. They want to ensure that their work is protected from other profiteers. But, to what extent? Can human genes themselves be patented, or the mechanisms behind them? What is the right of companies like Myriad Genetics to be rewarded for their efforts that contributes to better clinical care and our social good? What are the ethical and moral responsibilities of these companies to put patients first and not keep them from their own genetic information?
Big questions with huge decisions that will impact us and our children.
“Good communities actually take work.”
I’m a bit late to the game today, but this symposium covering journalism ethics in a digital age at the Paley Center for Media should be great. Digital heavyweights attending include John Paton, Clay Shirky, Eric Deggans, Ann Friedman, Gilad Lotan, Vadim Lavrusik, danah boyd, and David Folkenflik.
Here’s the line-up for the day:
9:00 a.m. Welcome
J. Max Robins, Vice President and Executive Director, Paley Center for Media
Karen Dunlap, President, The Poynter Institute
Craig Newmark, Founder, craigslist and craigconnects
9:15 – 9:30 The View From Here
Kelly McBride, Senior Faculty, The Poynter Institute
Tom Rosenstiel, Director, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Pew Research Center
9:30 -10:45 The Truth: Is It Possible in the Digital Era?
Moderator: John Paton, CEO, Digital First Media
Clay Shirky, Professor, New York University “Post Truth, Post Professional, Post Scarcity”
Steve Myers, Deputy Managing Editor, The Lens, “Fact-Checking 2.0″
Adam Hochberg, Instructor, University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, “Whose Money Should We Take? Credibility in Investigative Non-profit Newsrooms”
Craig Silverman, writer, “Regret the Error,” “The Corrections: A Sign of Sickness or Health?”
10:45 – Break
11:00 – 12:15 The Voices: Will Digital Space Ever Reflect Our Communities?
Moderator: Emily Bell, Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University
Eric Deggans, TV/Media Critic, Tampa Bay Times, “(Mostly) White and (Sometimes) Brown Media People in a (Mostly) Brown and (Sometimes) White World”
Ann Friedman, freelance editor and writer, “It’s Not What You Look Like, It’s What You Eat”
Monica Guzman, columnist, The Seattle Times, “The Community, Formerly Known as the Crowd, Is It a Means or an End?”
12:15 – 1:15 Lunch
1:15 – 2:30 The Vehicle: Can This Ride Take Us to Democracy?
Moderator: Stephen Buckley, Dean of Faculty, The Poynter Institute
Gilad Lotan, Vice President, Research and Development, SocialFlow, “The Unintended Consequences of Algorithmic Curation”
Dan Gillmor, Director, Knight Center for Digital Entrepreneurship, Arizona State University, “Can Private Platforms Coexist With Journalism’s Public Service?”
Vadim Lavrusik, Journalism Program Manager, Facebook
2:30 – 2:45 Break
2:45 – 4:00 The Story: What Stories Do People Want and Need?
Moderator: Andrew Heyward, Former President, CBS News
danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research, “The Cost of Fear in an Attention Economy”
Tom Huang, Sunday and Enterprise Editor, Dallas Morning News, “Should We Let the Daily Story Die?”
Kenny Irby, Senior Faculty, The Poynter Institute, “Seeing Is No Longer Believing”
Kelly McBride, Senior Faculty, The Poynter Institute, “We’re Feeding an Originality Breakdown”
4:00 – 4:30 The New Ethics of Journalism: A Guide for the 21st Century
Moderators: Tom Rosenstiel and Kelly McBride
4:30 Going Forward
Paul Tash, Chairman and CEO, Times Publishing Co.
David Folkenflik, Media Reporter, NPR
"Innovation is the exit strategy for aid."
Dr. Abdallah Daar during his conversation with Krista Tippett at the Chautauqua Institution to kick off a week-long series of interviews based on the theme of “Inspire. Commit. Act.”
How Do We Swing Honor Around?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Can we make the world a better place if we change the way people think about honor? This is the question philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explores in this smart, three-minute short film. He gives several examples of how customs that were once considered a matter of honor — challenging someone to a duel or foot-binding small girls — persisted for thousands of years but ceased after a few decades.
But why? Only when the fundamental dialogue in society is based on respect, Appiah says, can we change the way accepted practices, such as honor killings, are viewed by the people who carry them out.
On Jealousy, Transparency, and Lies: John Moe on Mike Daisey and the This American Life Retraction
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Yesterday Ira Glass sent an email revealing that This American Life's report on Apple's manufacturing supplier in China "contained significant fabrications." Mike Daisey’s story and TAL’s decisions to go to air and later retract the show have sparked a lot of discussion in journalism and public radio circles.
There’s a lot of praising, challenging, and questioning going on. Frankly, much of it feels like punditry and harmless posturing. But, this Saturday afternoon a stream of tweets by Marketplace's John Moe put a human face on this story and some of the underlying ethical issues at stake.
(I’ve kept the format in order to preserve, hopefully, the rhythm of Moe’s thoughts.)
I knew Daisey for many years, although its been several years since I’ve talked to him. But I saw his first audition when he came to Seattle
5:22 PM - 17 Mar 12
It was the best audition I’d ever seen. A monologue about Wrath of Khan. Astounding. Completely improvised, I later learned.
5:23 PM - 17 Mar 12
I worked at a temp agency and gave him temp jobs. Mike later worked at Amazon when I did. Then he quit and made a 1-man show about Amazon.
5:25 PM - 17 Mar 12
It bugged me that Amazon paid him salary and benefits and then he turned around and ripped them. I was also jealous of his talent & success.
5:26 PM - 17 Mar 12
Then he got a book deal! So I was jealous of his talent and success in writing and theater.
5:29 PM - 17 Mar 12
In his book, he said things about my department at Amazon that weren’t true or were exaggerated and/or twisted. Which angered me. So…
5:30 PM - 17 Mar 12
Over the years I haven’t known how to view his success. Astoundingly talented guy, I questioned his ethics, but I was jealous/petty too.
5:32 PM - 17 Mar 12
But this China thing hits me hard. As a tech reporter, I know the Foxconn issue is huge and complex. As a journalist, ethics are critical.
5:33 PM - 17 Mar 12
The Foxconn suicides first taught me the word Foxconn. It’s a big issue for me (my brother died of suicide) and I wanted more attn on it.
5:36 PM - 17 Mar 12
Then when Daisey became a leading spokesperson for Foxconn issues, I was all jumbled up. How did he get these scoops? I was jealous again.
5:37 PM - 17 Mar 12
Now all this. I don’t hate Mike, I wish him well, and I just hope more truth and light and transparency somehow emerge from this mess.
5:39 PM - 17 Mar 12
A Free Ride to Religious Groups in Secular Times?
by Martin Marty, guest contributor from Sightings
Those who observe United States Supreme Court decisions on “church and state” are dealing with what many call the most important “religious liberty” case in decades, at least since the 1940s. Like so many cases, this one had a parochial start.
The details are familiar, and we need not rehearse them all. Let it come to focus on the fact that a Lutheran parochial school teacher had been dealt what to her was a manifest injustice. She countered by seeking to pursue her case in court. Doing so, claimed the church, was counter to church teachings, so it fired her.
Had she been a simply secular employee in a simply secular post, the usual standards for administering justice would have applied. But the church named her a “minister,” and argued for a “ministerial exception” to secular standards. The Supreme Court decision left the teacher out in the judicial cold and left many citizen justice-advocates heated up.
So we add a “ministerial exception” to a national vocabulary and code which makes another exception in religious matters, alongside “tax exemption for the churches.” Such a tax exemption practice is so widely appreciated that few think of its rationales and practices. Try getting elected to Congress on a platform which would question and even abolish such tax exemption.
Is exemption just? Clearly, it is privileging religion, and many court decisions recognize and affirm this. Once again: is it just? Is it just to the significant percentage of the population which disfavors religion, ignores or disdains its institutions, yet pays higher taxes than if church properties were taxed. Never mind. Without such an exception, religious institutions would not thrive or always survive. So it is regarded, not always with clear rationales, as a public good.
Does this mean that the church, which is supposed to be prophetic, has to mute critical roles and support religious institutions even when they have, in the eyes of their critics, malign purposes and malignant practices? Yes. Being uncritical is a price religious institutions pay for the goods they derive for their prosperity in a free republic and letting the institutions go free from taxing is the price it pays when it can only wink at religions damaging the public good, as many of them do.
"With liberty and justice for all…" is an ascription in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, one that sets up a difficult balancing act. The founders, among them James Madison and others who quoted Montesquieu, were nervous. They quoted him: granting privileges to religion, as America does, has many upsides, but it can also contribute to downsides. If you want to destroy religion, Montesquieu had advised, give it favor. By granting "tax exemption" and now "ministerial exceptions," the citizenry and its courts (unanimously in this case of the Supreme Court) are giving favors unmatched by policies of European nations which have or until recently had "established churches."
These years one hears from some cultural and political factions the gross generalization that religion in general and Christianity in particular are being discriminated against and are suffering from the actions, policies, and expressions of secular society. Cases like the current one counter evidences. There are many assaults on faiths, including Christianity, in the culture at large. But the generally free ride given religious institutions even in a “secular time” should inspire thought: With all its contradictions, the United States remains a wonderful place in which religions can prosper. They do well when they serve the common good freely and openly.
Martin E. Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at The University of Chicago. He’s authored many books, includingPilgrims in Their Own Land and Modern American Religion.
This essay is reprinted with permission of Sightings from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Reuben found that, on average, both men and women lied about their performance. When participants had an incentive to lie, they lied more; and the incidence of lying increased as the monetary award for being chosen as leader increased. But while women kept pace with men on how frequently they lied, women did not exaggerate their performance to the same degree, and it cost them: women were selected a third less often than their abilities would otherwise indicate.
—Rebecca Knight of the Financial Times "Women at the Top" blog highlights research by Columbia Business School professor Ernesto Reuben, who finds that men “honestly believe their performance is 30 percent better than it really is.” This is research that should make all men and women pause as it concerns not only gender equality in the workplace but also ethics and morality.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
At lectures there are always some who raise their hands. But I think it’s unethical to send young people, since there are serious health risks. You need highly trained scientists with a life expectancy of less than 20 years.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor