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Communication in the Age of Trump

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Edited By Arthur S. Hayes

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio fireside chats to connect with millions of ordinary Americans. The highly articulate and telegenic John F. Kennedy was dubbed the first TV president. Ronald Reagan, the so-called Great Communicator, had a conversational way of speaking to the common man. Bill Clinton left his mark on media industries by championing and signing the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law. Barack Obama was the first social media presidential campaigner and president. And now there is President Donald J. Trump.

Because so much of what has made Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency unconventional has been about communication—how he has used Twitter to convey his political messages and how the news media and voters have interpreted and responded to his public words and persona—21 communication and media scholars examine the Trump phenomenon in Communication in the Age of Trump. This collection of essays and studies, suitable for communication and political science students and scholars, covers the 2016 presidential campaign and the first year of the Trump presidency.

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15. Are Algorithms Media Ethics Watchdogs? An Examination of Social Media Data for News (Tao Fu / William A. Babcock)

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15. Are Algorithms Media Ethics Watchdogs? An Examination of Social Media Data for News

TAO FU

University of International Business and Economics, China

WILLIAM A. BABCOCK

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

With the increasing role of the Internet, ethical interrogation of it has been focused on computer ethics, machine ethics and artificial intelligence (AI) ethics, which are closely related fields. Computer ethics is a broader and more generic term. Machine ethics, in particular, address issues related to “the behavior of machines toward human users and other machines” (Anderson, Anderson, & Armen, 2005, p. 1). AI ethics focuses on thinking machines with machine learning algorithms (Bostrom & Yudkowsky, 2014). Moor (2006) offered reasons for studying machine ethics: Human beings want to be well-treated by machines, especially as they are becoming increasingly powerful and sophisticated.

Ethical discussions concerning computers, machine learning, and AI often recommend designing algorithms to solve problems. This study argues algorithms per se have their own problems that merit further ethical exploration. Technological development calls for a paradigm shift in media ethics. The current study focuses specifically on the use of computer algorithms, as part of the data science in journalism and communication studies. In the following sections, the researchers introduce big data and algorithms, ethical issues concerning algorithms inferred from recent news reports about Facebook. These are followed by W. D. Ross’s (1930/2002) theory of prima facie duties, which has...

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