When the Extreme Could Be the Golden Mean: Ethical vs. Legal Burden of Protecting Celebrities’ Children’s Privacy and Whether Strict Laws Should Be Enacted To Ensure Their Safety

BY LARA GUVELIOGLU

Jan 2015 – Multi Grammy winner, Adele, and her son Angelo spotted by the paparazzi. Adele, who is very private about raising her son, can be seen visually upset and distressed as she is trying to shield her son from the cameras and flashes while trying to navigate through.

Photo Creds (right): https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/adeles-ill-fated-marriage-simon-14436436.amp
Photo Creds (left): https://www.theplace2.ru/photos/Adele-md4468/pic-752414.html

Merriam-Webster’s legal dictionary defines the age of majority as “the age at which a person is granted by law the rights (as ability to sue) and responsibilities (as liability under contract) of an adult.” Also known as the legal age, age of majority is set at 18 for most of the states in the U.S.. Unless granted emancipation, minors rely on their parents to provide them with basic needs, and protect their social and legal wellbeing. When these rights are threatened, however, it is the most natural thing for parents to advocate for what’s best for their children.

Such is the battle many celebrity parents are fighting today, and have been for the past few years. Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, John Krasinski, Blake Lively, Gigi Hadid to name a few of many, these high profile parents are growing more concerned each day with protecting their children’s privacy in the face of this exploitative world of tabloid journalism and the ever growing demand for a closer look into celebrities’ lives prompted by the ease of social media.

May 2014 – Actor and director, John Krasinski (and wife Emily Blunt), introduced their daughter to the world with the above tweet with the hashtag #NoKidsPolicy to show his support of fellow celebrities and their stand against their children’s privacy being invaded by tabloids.
Photo Creds: Screenshot from Twitter -https://twitter.com/johnkrasinski/status/466245487968808960
March 2014 – Actor Dax Shephard, and spouse, actress, Kristen Bell, sat down with “AKM/GSI photo agency owner Steve Ginsburg and celebrity/entertainment reporter Christian Zimmerman to discuss the issues raised by few celebrity parents in the past year or so” on Access Hollywood a month after launching a campaign to protect children of celebrities from the paparazzi.

Photo Credits: https://fstoppers.com/photojournalistic/kristen-bell-and-dax-shepard-confront-paparazzi-agency-over-photos-celebrity

As I’ve mentioned in my earlier blog post, Reaching the Golden Mean in Tabloid Journalism: How do we shift “Celebrities vs. Paparazzi” to “Celebrities & Paparazzi”?, there is a certain level of transparency and sacrificing privacy that comes with being a public figure. While most celebrities try to put on a polite face when faced with the consequences of this unspoken social contract, offer a professional smile, a quick wave, or a short Q&A session at abruptly being confronted by paparazzi during the simplest of days, one milestone changes the rules of the game: having children.

Historically, members of the tabloid journalism community have been criticized by celebrities and the public for their tendency to fail to practice ethical journalism in obtaining their content. In most cases, however, these actions are often justified by the rhetoric that celebrities signed up for this position, it comes with the profession, and that they are more than fairly compensated for the invasion of their privacy. Some might even argue that celebrities’ kids are celebrities by association and therefore the same rules apply. Unlike their parents who have willingly accepted a life in front of the public eye, however, celebrities’ children don’t have the legal or social standing to make an informed decision on giving consent or legally fighting for their privacy. Their legal status combined with their parents’ cries for privacy, the tabloids’ continued disregard for journalism ethics, especially when children are involved, is quite concerning.

May 2015 – Actor, Ashton Kutcher, shared his frustration on the paparazzi invading the privacy of his daughter he shares with actress, Mila Kunis, with the above tweet.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/aplusk/status/600739048513150977
July 2017 – Two years later, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were caught by the paparazzi and can be seen trying to shield their daughter’s face.

Photo Creds: https://www.contactmusic.com/ashton-kutcher/news/ashton-kutcher-paparazzi-kids_5762158
Same day – Kutcher took his frustration to social media with the above tweet asking fans and members of the media to respect their daughter’s privacy and choices.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/aplusk/status/887075095117791232

Now you might be thinking, “Well that must be illegal! Children should be protected by the law!” Unfortunately, the only state that has laws protecting celebrities’ children against paparazzi is the state of California which passed a bill in the fall of 2013 “that restricts photographers’ right to photograph the children of celebrities” as well as any kid targeted/ taunted by photographers, a movement led by Sen. Kevin de Leon, Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, and supported by many others.

September 2013 – Actress, Halle Berry (left), and actress Jennifer Garner (right), giving their testimonies in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee to get bill SB 606 passed in efforts to protect children of celebrities from tabloids.

Photo Creds: https://www.today.com/popculture/jennifer-garner-halle-berry-get-emotional-plea-protect-kids-paparazzi-6C10916515 – (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

While this bill, SB 606, was a big win for the celebrity families of California, and created national legal precedence in this battle for ethical preservation of minors’ privacy regardless of who their parents are, it’s far from victory: celebrities who reside in any of the other 49 states continue to struggle with the issue.

July 2021 – Actress, Blake Lively, took it to Instagram to criticize Daily Mail Australia for editing her pictures to narrate it as Lively and her three children sending smiles to the camera when in reality, Lively felt attacked and taunted by the paparazzi and was forced to pose for the photo so the tabloid journalists would leave her and her daughters alone.

Photo Creds: Instagram Screenshot – https://www.instagram.com/p/CRaYEhsNowN/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=f634467d-adb7-4b3e-bf2d-3e1435c02a95
July 2021 – Super model and new mom of a baby girl she shares with singer Zayn Malik, Gigi Hadid shared this emotional message on Twitter, asking fans and tabloids to respect her daughter’s privacy by not posting about her daughter on social media or by blurring her face if they have to use photos of her.

Photo Creds: Twitter Screenshot – https://twitter.com/GiGiHadid/status/1412218548592726017?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1412218548592726017%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insider.com%2Fpaparazzi-shouldnt-photograph-celebrity-kids-opinion-blake-lively-gigi-hadid-2021-7

So what’s the solution? A common dilemma in the world of communication, media and ethics is that not everything that is legal is ethical, and not everything ethical is legal. I believe to eliminate the gray area in this specific situation is to enact federal laws that clearly state the limits when it comes to the exploitation of children. Of course there are certain cases where celebrity parents consent to having their children included such as when they agree to take their kids to red carpet events or other instances where they are aware there will be paparazzi presence. While these controlled environments where everything is monitored, and necessary precautions are taken, offer a positive experience for everyone involved; paparazzi hiding in bushes, stalking children, causing physical disturbances just for a photo opportunity is dangerous, and, in my opinion, requires clear legal guidelines to eliminate the gray space between ethical and legal to protect children who depend on adults to advocate for them.

Friends: The One Where We Make Millennials “Uncomfortable”

Millennials and cancel culture have found their next target, and it may be one that most people would never think of. The ’90s hit sitcom Friends has come under scrutiny of late for some of the show’s storylines. The star-studded cast consisted of David Schwimmer, who played “Ross Geller”, Courtney Cox as “Monica Geller” (the sister of Schwimmer on the show), Lisa Kudrow as “Phoebe Buffay”, superstar Jennifer Aniston as “Rachel Green”, Matt LeBlanc as “Joey Tribbiani”, and Matthew Perry as “Chandler Bing”. Friends is a show that many reminisce about and tended to binge on Netflix before moving to HBO Max, where it is still highly watched and rated. Many think of Friends as a comfort show and one that they can relate to their everyday lives.

However, as millennials have been re-watching the show, more are noticing problematic storylines that are occurring such as how they portrayed specific situations. One example is that nowadays, some millennials found the LGBT plot points in the show left them feeling “uncomfortable”. An example of this was when Perry’s character was paranoid about being perceived as gay. According to Jukes, “over 70 countries continue to criminalize homosexual activities, and five of these countries carry the death penalty” (2016). Along the lines of Perry’s character, many millennials did not appreciate the mean-spirited jokes Chandler made about his father on the show, who was essentially a drag queen, which creates a second “uncomfortable” issue facing the show as of today. This portrayal was okay in the ’90s due to a different time with a different level of awareness of these problematic issues. Given the standards of today, I think people would find these jokes tasteless, but the audience in the ’90s was different; many issues portrayed in this show may not have been aired had the show premiered in the mid-2000s or later.

Image of Chandler Bing’s Father on Friends from Entertainment Tonight. Image Address.

Another issue that millennials are picking out of Friends in this day and age is that Monica played by Cox was constantly reminded of how she was at one point in her life extremely obese. Cox’s character was never allowed to forget about this as it was always brought up between the friends on the show. At one point, Joey, played by LeBlanc, when first seeing how obese Cox’s character was, yells, “Some girl ate Monica!” I do not think this would be able to fly today with a lot of talk around eating disorders and the big push to end obesity in the United States. However, I think that in the ’90s it was all in good fun, and many issues were not as publicized as they are today. For instance, both transphobia and fat-phobia were still around and it affected those who identified that way the same way it does today, but more allies have become available as more people have become vocal about these issues.

Image of “Fat Monica” on Friends from BuzzFeed. Image Address.

Even though it was all fun and games in the ’90s, the times have changed, and many shows have updated their constructs. According to Petrucci, “no one wants to admit that some of their favorite old sitcoms were problematic or offensive … TV from 10 and 20 years ago made a lot more insensitive jokes…” (2021).  These are only a few instances that make today’s generation “uncomfortable” while watching the show as there were many problematic themes spread throughout the 10-year series.

Written by Cara Cahill

Protecting Their Own in the NFL: Using Media Could Have Changed a Broken Culture

By Max Newton

The National Football League (NFL) has a history of protecting its own. Time and time again they have been pushing certain issues with players or team personnel under the rug in hopes of not tarnishing their reputation. There is a sense that the NFL is an old boys club and with that, they will do what they have to in order to protect their own no matter the situation at hand.

This type of culture was once again brought to the forefront when 15 former female employees of the Washington Football Team came forward accusing team staff of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. After both an internal investigation and an external investigation done by the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell decided that a 10 million dollar fine was to be assessed to team owner Dan Snyder, the fine was stated as being “unprecedented” by Roger Goodell but is $10 million really that substantial to someone worth 4 billion? I would say not really.

Pictured is Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner since 2006 https://www.forbes.com/sites/terencemoore/2020/01/30/theres-a-16-billion-reason-why-nfl-bosses-want-roger-goodell-to-keep-sounding-clueless/?sh=392c3d567a37

There are plenty of issues that could be discussed on how this whole process was handled. Personally, the biggest issue is how the media team working with the NFL handled the outcome. The NFL has not released any of their findings from the investigation and there is a major push for that information to be released and rightfully so. As of right now, there are only rumors of what happened, especially surrounding the owner Dan Snyder and his major role in the creation of this toxic culture and how he has failed to hold his employees and himself accountable. Not releasing the investigation that was conducted, allows for this type of culture to be continued not only in this specific organization but the sports world as a whole. This was a giant missed opportunity for the NFL and the media to show that they are taking a stance on this unacceptable behavior and provide examples (anonymously) of the specific behavior that needs to be completely eliminated from this industry.

Dan Snyder, Washington Football Team Owner and at the forefront of the sexual harassment claim from his former employeeshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Snyder

By not releasing the report, or at the very least, explaining the nature of the issue and giving the public more of an explanation the NFL basically protected their own and let them off the hook with a slap of the wrist. Was there a possibility for the NFL to use this poor decision making by one organization as an example for the rest of the sports world by releasing their findings to the public, allowing their media team to share this information, knowing it will be a black eye on the league but in the long run it will allow for growth because the media can raise awareness by being able to speak about the issue? Absolutely there was. The PR team that is involved with the NFL, along with the NFL executives were clouded in their judgment and focused on protecting their own instead of using this incredibly disappointing situation for a chance to change the culture that has been created through sports by entrusting the media and their team to pass along crucial information. To further show this, business academic Paul Nutt’s was quoted as saying “the NFL executives are checking every box in Nutt’s analysis of “debacles” and “blunders””

The NFL and the sports industry as a whole have primarily worried about protecting their own, while there has been a slow change in the sports industry in terms of accountability in recent years, there is still plenty of room to grow. This situation specifically presented the NFL an opportunity for growth in terms of the culture but was missed because of their lack of awareness on how media could properly address the issue at hand. Using a negative situation and finding ways to ensure it never happens again should be at the forefront of NFL executives anytime a situation like this arises, hopefully, that is the case in the future.

Facebook Aims to Target a Younger Audience

Meghan Barrasso

With the growth of social media platforms, comes the growth of companies aiming to influence users through these platforms in hopes of creating lifetime users. Facebook, now known as Meta, is one of the biggest social media platforms along with Instagram. The company was created back in 2004 long long ago when social media wasn’t the household term that it is today. 

No one ever imagined that social media would flourish into the pivotal instrument that it is in today’s world. The convenience of cell phones and social media apps has basically exposed us to be influenced right in the palm of our hands.

When reading Facebook’s “About” page, the minimum age to sign up for a Facebook and Instagram account in the United States is 13 years old. Seems young right? Well, not really. According to a CNN article discussing a Media Census Report, 56% of children between the ages of 8 and 18 have a social media account; with the average age of signing up for an account being 12.6 years old. So in actuality, children seem to be the majority of those who are on social media, which makes them susceptible to be easily persuaded by whatever is being published through these means.

With companies having such direct access to consumers, especially young children, comes a number of ethical issues.

Recently, Facebook has been under fire for hiring a new department of employees to create products that target an “untapped audience” of children under the age of 13. Back in 2018, a “confidential” document revealed Facebook’s plans to create a new social media platform exclusively for children under the age of 13, broken down into different age groups.


Outline of Facebook’s proposed platform for children obtained from NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/facebook-documents-reveal-company-targeted-children-young-6-rcna4021

This idea was in the process of being developed even though recent research showed that social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have negative effects on users’ mental health. 

So why would such a large influential company do such a thing? For the profit of course.

Phones, iPads, and tablets are largely used products by young children, so the exposure and influence are at an all time high. This is where the ethical issue comes into play: taking advantage of an easily persuaded audience. 

CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer said in an interview with NBC: “They [Facebook] need to focus on cleaning up their existing platforms instead of trying to hook more children to their addictive platforms at younger and younger ages.”

Facebook responded to this backlash by essentially stating that since the industry they’re in is so competitive and other companies would do the same thing, they stand by their decision to pursue this platform.

Companies have every right to get to know and target their customers, but if they are identified as too young to even use the platforms, they should not have specific services geared toward them. Instead of working to create a new platform for younger children in hopes of creating lifetime users, social media platforms like Facebook need to gear their focus toward creating safer platform for teenagers and young adults to use.

Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace: a Case Study in Victim Shaming

By Meghan Schweizer

In 2017, the #Metoo movement gained momentum, bringing new focus on workplace sexual harassment, even though protections were already in place in the fifty states . Why do more than half of victims of sexual harassment never report or file a complaint? Is it fear of retaliation? Shame? Or does the victim often encounter victim-blaming attitudes when they do report it?

#MeToo Rally, Baltimore, MD January 20, 2018

Let us be clear…There is no room for sexual misconduct in the workplace or educational institute. Unfortunately, it continues to be a problem. Committed without consent, the act may come in the form of force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation, often between individuals with different levels of authority.  The perpetrator may retaliate or victim shame. While men experience sexual harassment, many of the victims are women. In 2020, more than 6,500 sexual harassment claims were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) . This federal agency, established via the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, administers and enforces, civil right laws against workplace discrimination .

Attitude and empathy rank as top reasons sexual harassment does not get reported. As reviewed in the case study, Why Women Are Blamed for Being Sexually Harassed: The Effects of Empathy for Female Victims and Male Perpetrators, researchers focused on men’s lesser empathy towards female victims . Two studies were performed among university students. The first surveyed students who received the perspective of the male’s perpetrator’s harassment of a female student. Results found men blamed the woman and had greater empathy for the male. The second study the students were given either the male or female’s perspective. Regardless of gender, those who took the male perspective had lesser empathy for the female. In conclusion, the case demonstrated the belief, women sexually harassed are in part blamed due to their provocative behavior towards men. This further aligned with no matter what the outcome, women victims gained nothing by reporting or not reporting the harassing behavior. Theory and research suggested negative attitude towards disadvantaged or stigmatized groups and a failure to consider the perspective of the victim.

“The belief, women who are sexually harassed are in part blamed due to their provocative behavior towards men.”

What happens when people of power, in the media, abuse their power and commit sexual harassment? This couldn’t happen, as the Society of Professional Journalists believe in a conduct code, one that treats sources, subjects, colleagues, and member of the public as human beings deserving respect...or could it?  Journalist and former co-host of the Today Show not only found himself at the center of attention for sexual harassment accusations in 2017, but after an investigation determined credibility of the claims, Matt Lauer, the perpetrator, responded via a 1,300-word open letter sent to Variety magazine. He rebutted the accusation as “categorically false, ignoring the facts, and defies common sense.”  Lauer claimed this was all part of an effort to sell books, describing his sexual relationship as “consensual,” not aggressive and “she certainly did not cry.”  He further shamed his victims, by indicating the “women did not share the responsibility and shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations”. News flash Matt Lauer…Public shaming is a form of punishment or abuse and regarded as unacceptable behavior.

The perpetrator further shamed, by indicating “women did not share the responsibility and shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations.

Instead of showing empathy, NBC News executives communicated the Matt Lauer incidents were never formally reported to their human resources department nor to executives. Investigators found “Lauer ‘frequently engaged in sexual banter or joking in open working environments” . Investigators believed Lauer’s behavior created a hostile environment where employees impacted may have not felt comfortable to report it. Implying there may be victims yet to come forward, Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer Prize winner, contradicted NBC’s stance, indicating a team of investigators spent several years fact-checking and following the paper trail with documents. He further clarified that over a 7-year period, NBC had multiple secret settlements and nondisclosures with women victims at NBC, including Lauer.  Lauer was later terminated

Matt Lauer, former co-host of the Today Show

NBC had multiple secret settlements and nondisclosures with women victims at NBC, including Lauer.

What is being done to prevent and protect victims?  States are looking to prevent workplace sexual harassment beyond the federal regulations in place. While fifty states prohibit sexual discrimination, only eight states go beyond these practices, requiring employees to attend sexual harassment training.  The National Conference of State Legislatures reported a decline in reported sexual harassment claims, unable to confirm if related to the onset of the global pandemic (people no longer in the workforce or working remote). This reviewer agrees additional legislature is required as well as campaigns to change the stigmatisms

Loopholes still exist!  Legislation work must be done on the use or abuse of non-disclosure agreements. NBC News is not alone regarding media companies opting to pay settlements to avoid the aftermath of scandals.  Twenty-First Century Fox paid $50 million in settlements in their fiscal 2017 year. This settlement included one of the network’s biggest stars, Bill O’Reilly, of Fox News.  Additional business contributors were suspended, such as Charles Payne and Eric Bolling, leaving as they settled multiple allegations of sexual harassment

Protocols, training, and laws should be standardized across all fifty states to prevent discrimination and harassment and protect all victims.

The multi-national technology company, Google, recently paid a $310 million settlement. Their parent company, Alphabet, agreed as part of its settlement to make more than eighty updates or changes to its policies and procedures around sexual misconduct and harassment. Google took a different approach to re-gain the trust of its employees. Its CEO emailed all employees encouraging them to read the settlement highlights. This reviewer believes organizations should take heed to Google’s approach and provide a corporate stance, not to make excuses, but acknowledge there is a problem, and not allow it to continue.

Without consent,

More Oscars Drama Awaits….

By Joseph T. LeBlanc

When the 2021 Awards Season came to a close, there was a lot of awkwardness and drama that transpired.

According to multiple articles from Hollywood Reporter, The awkwardness came after the Academy Award For Best Actor, was given to Anthony Hopkins for his role in the film, The Father. He won over the fan-favorite of the late Chadwick Boseman, for his role as Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. According to the BBC, Chadwick Boseman unfortunately died in August of 2020 from Colon cancer.

Chadwick Boseman
This is an image of Chadwick Boseman at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Com, promoting his new film, Black Panther.

The Oscars, made the evening more awkward because according to that same Hollywood Reporter article titled, “Oscars Face Backlash Over Chadwick Boseman Snub”, the article states, “Oscar producers even seemed to be preparing for a Boseman win by changing the order of the awards show to end with the best actor award, rather than best picture, which usually closes out the show.” and the article continued to say that Anthony Hopkins, who is 83, becomes the oldest best actor winner and was not even in attendance at the ceremony so the show ended rather abruptly with no speech.

Hollywood Reporter, also mentioned that after the award show, there were a lot of angry journalists, who shed their light on the subject:
‘MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid tweeted, “Wait what was that Game of Thrones style ending?? Andra Day and Chadwick Boseman were robbed.” And the writer of shows Parenthood and Shameless, LaToya Morgan, tweeted out as well by saying,
“For those keeping score, people aren’t mad that Chadwick lost. It’s the way it played out. The build up… the let down. Chaos achievement: unlocked.” That’s only mentioning two of the many people that were infuriated with the Oscars decision.

Now, to shed my light on the topic, I have a lot of mixed views about this. I say that because Chadwick Boseman, in my opinion, has been completely overlooked his entire career before Black Panther. He has starred as some of the most famous African American figures to have walked this earth, such as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. What I have noticed in his films is that he doesn’t just play the part, he completely becomes the part and puts his full heart and soul into every role he plays. However, his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, was by far his best performance. You could see all the pain and agony that his character was going through, throughout the film. His acting was truly masterful.

Now, Anthony Hopkins performance in The Father in my opinion, was professionally and truthfully the best one nominated. He played a mentally ailing elderly father, who was losing his whole reality of life because of dementia. Now, in my opinion, dementia is one of the hardest things to display on screen and in a film because it needs to be scripted and acted out perfectly or the audience will lose interest and get lost. I never lost interest at all while watching The Father. That’s just how good his performance was.

In conclusion, I think that the right decision was made in awarding Anthony Hopkins the Oscar. I just think that Chadwick Boseman’s previous roles were just so under looked, that it almost seemed to forced into giving him the Oscar, even after winning the Golden Globe and SAG award. It seemed like the award shows were making up for lost time. Even though, I feel like Boseman’s nominated performance was the best of his career, It was the right the right decision to give it to Hopkins because he did something on screen that is incredibly hard to do, and made it a beautiful work of art. I just feel that society and the media put way too much pressure on Chadwick Boseman, to win the Best Actor Oscar, because this was his last acting performance before he died and his previous acting performances, were not recognized as much as they should have been. It was the only ethically fair thing to do, in awarding the Oscar to Anthony Hopkins. The Oscars needs to be strictly focused on the performance itself and not based on the person, whether they are alive or deceased.

Donut trashing & TikTok bashing

By: Samantha Puleo

(Snippet from Bryan Johnston’s viral TikTok video, where he shows how many donuts are thrown out each night. Image credit: Yahoo!News)

We all know and love the franchise Dunkin Donuts. Their donuts are classic and their coffee has always been a staple for people, especially in New England. Through the years we’ve come to the realization that Dunkins throws away any leftover donuts on its shelves by the end of each day, but this was never truly publicized within the media until, February of 2021. Where Dunkin’s employee, Bryan Johnston had gone viral for posting multiple videos of himself throwing away more than 300 donuts at the end of of his shifts on TikTok.

(A featured comment on one of the videos Bryan had posted, where it is requested that they be given to homeless people. Image credit: Bored Panda)

After posting this video, there were many demands in the comment section of the video requesting for these donuts to be sent to homeless shelters and questions of why Dunkin continuously throws away the leftovers each night? The main answer to this would be that it is company policy and if Dunkins were to freely distribute the donuts to these shelters and someone was to get sick from them, Dunkins could easily be sued. It may not sound like the best method of throwing away food but for the companies financial well-being this is the solution. If Dunkins was to send donuts to a homeless shelter it is said that they would have to create a specific program to do so. So, until this happens these left over donuts will be thrown out, whether the public agrees or disagrees.

(Bryan’s confirmation that he was fired from Dunkin, this was taken through Snapchat. Image credit: Bored Panda)

So what happened to Bryan after this occurred? Well, the corporate office of Dunkin found out about the videos and immediately ordered Bryan’s manager to fire him. Later, Bryan had started to buy from Krispy Kreme and give away to frontline healthcare workers. This I assume to be a retaliation against Dunkin. But this all begs two questions, was it ethical to fire him over this and does this show the public where Dunkin’s loyalty truly lies? A lot of people believe that it was indeed unethical to fire Bryan over this matter. In my opinion, it was definitely harsh in the eyes of someone who is not in the food industry, but thinking in terms of this industry, I have to agree with Dunkin’s actions. I think for them this is just a clear message of bad publicity. Also, by firing Bryan, this can be an example to other employees of what can happen to them if they exploit Dunkin’s policies. This then brings around the thought of Dunkin’s loyalties. I would definitely say that they have a clear loyalty to the self by immediately firing an employee that can potentially harm their brand. As for a loyalty to society, I’d say yes and no. On the yes side, they are technically still protecting people from getting sick from their leftover food, but also on the no side, they could be more proactive and try to create programs for feeding the homeless and discontinue this notion of them wasting food. Maybe this role situation just goes to show us that even when we think we are making a difference, we may actually be hurting ourselves.

Downplaying or “playing” it just right?

News reporting during the pandemic and the many ethical concerns.

Written by Trinh Ho

The Pandemic spread rampantly across the US and around the world in 2020.

It has been more than a year and a half since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. As healthcare workers have been working tirelessly to combat the spread of the disease, journalists have also been at the forefront. Since everyone was forced to be home for an extensive amount of time last March, the need for accurate and factual data was needed more than ever. But as to any news that revolves around politics, the public or seemingly taking away “personal liberties” as Americans like to put it, different news outlets always have a way to fabricate messages to fit their various different demographics. The media’s role as a reputable source of health information has been called into question, with charges of misinformation and politics coming from both sides of the political spectrum. 

Death and different data points that involve people and diseases have long been a sensitive topic for the media to cover. In the US, where the media is plentiful and all have different opinions on different topics, news channel often leans toward their political affiliation. For example, during the first couple months of the pandemic, more left-leaning news fails to deliver the different data points that highlight the importance of containing the pandemic while on the other side, news coverage about the pandemic was widespread and sometimes even seem exaggerated. As the death and infection rates were rising, news channels like Fox News remains steadfast in “underplaying” the seriousness of the pandemic and choose to pick topics that don’t relate to the pandemic. This is how the rise of “fake news” during the pandemic has become mainstream. Turning our backs on the world’s worst public health disaster in almost a century has had far repercussions. It is unfortunate that some media outlets have influenced coverage of the pandemic based on their political affiliations. 

The pandemic gave us a different perspective on how we see the media. Since the public would only follow the news channel that aligns with their personal beliefs, the different opinions from the two major political parties splits the country in half. The obvious split has had some identifying a shift in how the public sees the power of the news. The repercussions of some conservative media’s persistent bad coverage of the pandemic are that attention is diverted away from a problem that is clearly out of control. You can get the misleading idea that the pandemic is going away and that the liberal media is making a big deal out of nothing if you get your news from certain websites. If you believe the epidemic will pass, you will be less inclined to conceal your face, which might save your life, the life of a loved one, or the life of someone else’s loved one. COVID-19 is unconcerned if you are a conservative, liberal, or neither; all that matters is that you are a human being.

Being somewhat of a 3rd party looking at the different media outlets and how they choose to report the pandemic, it is concerning that how a political outlook can sway the public away from the issues that need to be dealt with. 

If you watch Squid Game, don’t call the number shown in the series. Don’t be that guy.

Written by: Kara Haase

First off, I just want to start off and say there are no spoilers past this point, so continue to read soundly. Second off, I am going to raise the question to you, have you watched the series Squid Game? If not, I strongly advise you to. Squid Games is on its way to be the biggest Netflix show ever. It is definitely the biggest non-english show ever. Despite the show’s popularity there is some controversy circling the series.

Image Credit: Screenshot off Netflix

Imagine this. You’re going through your day and you start to receive thousands of calls with people asking if they can join the game. What would you do? How would you handle this situation?

This is exactly what a Korean woman was asking herself when she started to receive 4,000 calls a day. So many calls that her phone just kept dying. She soon realized that the reason she was getting these calls was because her personal phone number was leaked during the series.

In one of the many scenes throughout the show a business card is given to one of the characters and on that business card is a phone number to “join the game.” We have seen this happen time and time again where someone’s phone number is leaked in a song or a show then called an unbelievable amount of times. I think everyone knows the song Jenny, also known as, 867-5309. Side note, I’m sorry I just got that song stuck in all of your heads for the rest of the day. Anyways, the owner of the phone number, 867-5309, and people with similar number combinations, received thousands of unwanted calls. It’s hard to live a normal life when you get spammed by random numbers for hours on end.

You may ask yourself, well how did Netflix and the series let this mistake happen? I would answer by saying foolishness. When phone numbers show up in American TV shows or movies, the production team usually uses a phone number with “555,” which is a fake phone prefix. The series did attempt to create a phony number by removing the first three digits, but people were still able to reach the phone number locally.

Image Credit: Screenshot off Netflix

In this case, I disagree with Mill’s Principle of Utility because Mill would have believed mistakes happen and it’s not hurting the majority of people. Even though I know this mistake was not intentional, the outcome is still unethical. This foolishness created a complete mess for the women and other people with similar digits to her. The women who have been receiving these calls said, “It’s hard for me to go on with daily life.” She further explained that she has had this number for one then ten years and uses the phone number to contact clients. This is not only affecting her personal life, but her work life too.

The owner of the phone number has turned down two offers of compensation for the ownership of the number. I don’t believe money is going to solve this situation, especially because her phone number is how she communicates with all of her customers that give her business income. Netflix Korea came out with a statement addressing how they are going to handle this situation. “Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes showing the phone number where necessary.” I believe this is an ethical way to solve this sticky situation and I don’t believe Netflix will be making another mistake like this in the future.

Can Misogyny Lead to Anything Worse in Professional Sports?

Written by: Connor Powell

Picture this. Some of your most revealing and personal messages you send with close friends gets released to the public for everyone to see… How would you feel? How would you handle it? Would it even be that bad based on what was said? Well, the worst of the worst in this instance happened to former National Hockey League player, Brendan Leipsic, just last year. Let’s take a closer look at the whole situation and decipher whether or not Leipsic truly got what he deserved.

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Let’s first look at what exactly came out about Leipsic and why it is bad (after reading it will be blatantly obvious).

Where to even begin with this guy honestly, but I guess we’ll start with a message directed at his teammate Jake Virtanen. The former Vancouver Canuck forward posted to Instagram with some friends with the caption, “What a crew #Cabo” to which Leipsic shared to a group a friends saying, “Easily the worst crew in the world”. Next up in terms of teammate slander was when the Washington Capitals posted a podcast with two of Leipsic’s former teammates. Leipsic shared it to the same group of friends saying, “My linemates” which was followed up with, “F**k they’re losers”.

Personally, this just can’t happen in any way, shape, or form. Going behind someone’s back and saying things like this is bad no matter the instance, but to make matters worse he is saying this about teammates. These are the guys you go to war with on a nightly basis during the season to try and win the Stanley Cup, but you sure as hell won’t be accomplishing that with a teammate like Leipsic on your team.

Just when you think that was as bad as it got for Leipsic, there was questionably worse messages that came out about women. Now there is simply too many things to touch on in this blog, which is a problem within itself, but let’s touch on some of the worse messages by Leipsic. Just to take note of a couple of the messages in reference to women, Leipsic said things like, “lmao she’s so funny looking”, “look how fat Pearson’s wife is”, and “oink oink”. That is just a few of the misogynistic comments that he had used in Instagram private messages. There are far worse things said too, but in the interests of keeping this blog somewhat PG13, you can do that research on your own time.

Once the messages were leaked to the public for all to see, Leipsic’s hands were tied so this is how he responded. “I fully recognize how inappropriate and offensive these comments are and sincerely apologize to everyone for my actions. I am committed to learning from this and becoming a better person by taking time to determine how to move forward in an accountable, meaningful way. I am truly sorry.”.

(via NHL)

To me, how Leipsic handled it wasn’t quite enough for me. Just stating that you are sorry and not showing how you are going to get better down the line doesn’t seem genuine to me. Nothing about that statement shows to me that he won’t just continue saying stuff like this again once the fog clears. He did get cut from the NHL almost entirely and now plays in Russia for the KHL, but here he is…still playing hockey professionally which is not okay to me. We can’t let this standard continue any longer for people like Leipsic because who knows, it might go one step further from just misogynistic comments to maybe domestic violence.