Welcome to the companion website for Controversies in Media Ethics, 3rd edition. On this site you will find a variety of resources for both students and instructors to accompany the book.

Hello, and welcome to the third edition of Controversies in Media Ethics!

My name is Dr. Mike Dorsher. I’m one of the co-authors of this third edition of Controversies in Media Ethics, and I’m the principal author of this accompanying website for CME3, as we like to call it.

CME3 is completely rewritten, updated—and nearly twice the size of the second edition of this text, published in 1999. That was a century ago, especially given the pace of change in new media technologies and mass media economies over the dozen years between editions of this text.

We hope you’ll find this new edition worth the wait. We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into it, so that, even as further new media controversies arise, you, the instructors and students who use this text, will have the background and principles you need to discuss them intelligently—if not immediately resolve them.

The principal authors of the second edition of Controversies in Media Ethics—Drs. David Gordon, John Michael Kittross, and John Merrill—are still here.  They have put aside their retirements and marshaled their decades of unparalleled wisdom and experience in media ethics to update, rewrite, and expand the core of this third edition of Controversies in Media Ethics.

Then, for further expansions and experience with new media technologies and effects, the principal authors have brought on board a new generation of contributors and authors, such as Dr. Bill Babcock and myself. I was a journalist for 20 years, and one of the founding editors of washingtonpost.com, before I became a new media researcher and earned a doctorate and post-doctorate Fulbright Fellowship.

I’ve been teaching Mass Media Ethics for the past eight years, and I’ve produced this website full of complementary material for CME3 in order to make this a living text. I’ll be updating this website each summer and winter break, so that the timeless principles of the text can always be applied to the contemporary cases on the site. We hope you’ll enjoy and use these materials for years to come—no matter how long it takes us to write and publish the fourth edition of Controversies in Media Ethics.

By A. David Gordon, John Michael Kittross, John C. Merrill, William Babcock, Michael Dorsher

Sample Chapters

Controversies in Media Ethics

3rd Edition

By A. David Gordon, John Michael Kittross, John C. Merrill, William Babcock, Michael Dorsher

Routledge – 2011 – 608 pages

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $76.95
    June 13th 2011
  • Add to CartHardback: $220.00
    June 13th 2011


Controversies in Media Ethics offers students, instructors and professionals multiple perspectives on media ethics issues presenting vast "gray areas" and few, if any, easy answers. This third edition includes a wide range of subjects, and demonstrates a willingness to tackle the problems raised by new technologies, new media, new politics and new economics.

The core of the text is formed by 14 chapters, each of which deals with a particular problem or likelihood of ethical dilemma, presented as different points of view on the topic in question, as argued by two or more contributing authors. The 15th chapter is a collection of "mini-chapters," allowing students to discern first-hand how to deal with ethical problems. Contributing authors John A. Armstrong, Peter J. Gade, Julianne H. Newton, Kim Sheehan, and Jane B. Singer provide additional voices and perspectives on various topics under discussion.

This edition has been thoroughly updated to provide:

  • discussions of issues reflecting the breadth and depth of the media spectrum
  • numerous real-world examples
  • broad discussion of confidentiality and other timely topics

A Companion Website (www.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415963329) supplies resources for both students and instructors. You can also join the Controversies community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CME3rd

Developed for use in media ethics courses, Controversies in Media Ethics provides up-to-date discussions and analysis of ethical situations across a variety of media, including issues dealing with the Internet and new media. It provides a unique consideration of ethical concerns, and serves as provocative reading for all media students.


Part I: The Basics

Overview: Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics

Chapter 1: Ethics and Freedom: Mass Media Accountability

Chapter 2: Individual Values, Social Pressures and Conflicting Loyalties

Reflections: Taking Aristotle to Work—Practical and Moral Values

Part II: Roles and Pressures

Chapter 3: Gatekeepers and Manipulators: Truth, Fairness and Accuracy

Chapter 4: The Ethics of "Correctness" and "Inclusiveness"

Chapter 5: Codes of Ethics

Tools for Ethical Decision-Making

Part III: Overarching Problems 

Chapter 6: New Technologies and Techniques: New Ethics?

Chapter 7: Digitally Manipulated Content    

Chapter 8: Media Ethics and the Economic Marketplace

Chapter 9: Access to Media: Equity in Receiving and Disseminating Information

Part IV: Hot Topics in Media Ethics

Chapter 10: Private Lives, Public Interests in a Digital World

Chapter 11: The Ethics of Persuasive Communication 

Chapter 12: The Ethics of New Advertising Technologies and Techniques  

Chapter 13: Infotainment, Sensationalism and "Reality"  

Chapter 14: Violence and Sexuality  

Chapter 15: More Topics in the Ethical Debate

Postscript: Some Questions without Answers and Answers without Questions



Author Bio

A. David Gordon retired from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2002, where he taught mass media ethics and law as well as journalism and media/society courses.

John Michael Kittross is editor of Media Ethics magazine. He retired from Emerson College, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He is managing director of K\E\G Associates, an academic consulting group.

John C. Merrill is professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Missouri.

William A. Babcock is senior ethics professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Michael Dorsher teaches mass media ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.