On the 4th of April, 2011, the second annual media related panel, titled ‘Media and Values: Its influence and responsibilities for social ethics’, was held at Customs Housein Circular Quay. Last year’s panel featured the launch of ISRA (Islamic Sciences & Research Academy) whereas this year prominent local and international speakers explored the impact of media on social harmony, with the launch of the Fountain magazine.
The event was sponsored by City of Sydney Living in Harmony Initiative and the US based Fountain Magazine, ‘A magazine of scientific and spiritual thought’. Chaired by the State Director of ABC, Peter Longman, the evening began with a warm ‘Welcome to Country’ by Norma Ingram. The panel‘s four speakers delivered insightful and highly engaging presentations.
Mr Peter Manning, a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Monash University & author of “Us & Them”, analysed the ways in which Australian values are defined, determined and ultimately represented through various media. Drawing on specific examples such as Rwanda and wartime reporting, Mr Manning examined the (inevitably) subjective nature of media and its role in shaping values and re-inforcing attitudes.
Prof Radhi al-Mabouk, Head of Educational Psychology and Foundations Department in the University of Northern Iowa, USA, addressed the influence and responsibilities of media with particular attention to the value of ‘forgiveness’. After explaining the three dimensions to Fethullah Gulen’s perspective on forgiveness, patient endurance, tolerance or mutual respect, and capacity for compassion, Prof al-Mabouk outlined some suggestions on the potential role of the media in investigating and fostering such values before concluding with examples of how this has been achieved in The Fountain magazine.
Dr Jon Pahl, Professor of the History of Christianity in North America and the Director of MA programs at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, addressed the fundamental question of whether media can be moral. Prof Pahl outlined the significance of the notion of sacred space to allow media to be “oriented positively to foster social compassion and charity, to critique injustice and violence, to provide voices for otherwise silenced citizens, and to hold up for societies and individuals the highest, rather than the lowest, human aspirations and ethical horizons.