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Responsibility in "Produsage" and new media

Report on the 2nd Media Ethics Symposium

Under the title "Produsage: Where Does the Media Responsibility of Users Reside", the second Media Ethics Symposium devoted itself on March 13th to a phenomenon that increasingly affects media economics and media practice. Not only journalists and professional media producers create content and media but also recipients are increasingly active in media production: through blogs, social media and as citizen-journalists. We are "produsers". The Media Ethics Symposium focused on responsibility and ethical questions related to this development.

Hate speech, filter bubble and glorification of violence
In addition to the possibility for an increasing number of people to participate in the media production process and thus to shape and comment on social changes, "produsage" also has ethical implications. Not only is traditional journalism thereby increasingly challenged but also general notions or even regulations concerning the ethical legitimacy of the content produced are missing.

This also creates a new kind of responsibility for the individual. Some of the problems that require ethical analysis are: hate speech, the filter bubble, echoes, privacy violations, glorification of violence as well as possibly low quality standards when traditional professionalized-journalism loses importance. On March 13th, 2017 the second practical research and teaching symposium on media ethics at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences discussed media ethics related questions concerning this development.

Media education for the processing of information
"In order to learn how to deal responsibly with new forms of unprofessional or semi-professional reporting and provision of information, it is important to begin with education both for professional media-makers and in school-based media education. One should be able to factually disseminate information as well as assess the reality content and relevance of information", said Nina Köberer, speaker on media ethics and political education at the Lower Saxon State Institute for School Quality Development as well as lecturer on ethics and co-worker in the research group Media Ethics at Ludwigsburg University of Education. 

Blurred boundaries between roles and actors

"The boundaries between users and producers are blurred not only with regard to roles but also with regard to actors which are often no longer human beings but instead artificial intelligence (chatbots, socialbots) or algorithms", explained Matthias Karmasin, Head of the Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Professor of Media and Communication Science at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt.

"If it was an ideal years ago (everyone a broadcaster / everyone a receiver), we realize today that it has not been the dawning of the golden age of media democracy but rather that new platforms have been given to the cultivation of outrage and resentment. This raises new questions concerning the placement and enforcement of responsibility, which are equally challenging for both ethics and law", said Karmasin.

Additional speakers at the Media Ethics Symposium were: Alfred J. Noll, lawyer, cultural publicist, law philosopher and professor of public law and jurisprudence; Helmut Brandstätter, editor-in-chief and publisher of the daily newspaper "Kurier"; Stefan Ullrich from the “Gesellschaft für Informatik Berlin” and Georg Mahr, community manager of "derStandard.at".

Research and university education in media ethics

"The symposium as well as current developments concerning fake news and hate postings show how important media ethics still is today. St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences acknowledges this by integrating media ethics topics into our media economic education and through research in the field", said Michael Litschka, Head of the course in Media Management at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and organizer of the Media Ethics Symposium.

Radio broadcast

Recently, Michael Litschka was a guest at a “Campus Talk” on Campus & City Radio 94.4 and explained the media ethics related consequences arising from social media, hate postings, and fake news.

Listen to the programme (in German).