This chapter provides an overview of basic theoretical and logistical issues related to the ethical conduct of media research. A brief opening section places media studies within the broader history of research ethics, including the formation of professional codes and ethics review boards. The body of the chapter explores key concepts such as privacy, deception, and informed consent through a handful of exemplary case studies. Cases highlight issues associated with common methods including survey, experiment, ethnography, content analysis, historical and policy research. Special attention is given to the ways that emerging media technologies and contemporary critical/cultural approaches raise fundamental questions about established ethical frameworks.
An undergraduate student is researching the prevalence of pornography in online bulletin board systems. If some of the user data for these bulletin boards is publicly available, is it okay for him or her to access it for research? If some of these users have taken measures to protect their privacy, is it fair for him or her to suggest that they may be hiding their interest in child pornography?
A team of professional researchers is investigating how community radio in Ghana can facilitate local initiatives to address climate change. Are they damaging the local broadcasting stations' image of political neutrality by involving them in research ...