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Special Reports on  ""

      Click on a title below to access the article in this Special Report.

Special Reports

Advertising and Ethics

Advertising occurs everywhere: on TV, in newspapers and magbazines, on billboards, in handbills, and in things we get in the mail. Advertising is inextricably entwined with our economic, political, educational, religious, and social-service systems. Can advertising be ethical, and if so, to what extent?
Illustration by Marcia Klioze Hughes/The World & I 

The most common art and images we see today are those in advertising. Advertising occurs everywhere: on TV, in newspapers and magazines, ...

What Advertising Does to Us
From Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs to gangsta rap, to violence in the movies, people criticize this or that art form for being a corrupting influence on culture. Politicians in Washington try to keep pornography off computer networks. Magazines carry headlines like "Are Music and Movies Killing America's Soul?" (Time, June 12, 1995). The most common reason given for wanting to ban art is the fear that people will imitate what they see, even if what they see is somehow morally wrong. Some people fear that violent art will make people violent, and pornography will make people commit rape. ...

The Ethics of Questionable Advertising Campaigns
In August 1995, Calvin Klein, Inc., halted an advertising campaign that critics claimed imitated "kiddie porn." Voice-overs, camera angles, and suggestive language met outrage from media analysts and the American Family Association, which charged the ads approached child pornography. Calvin Klein's advertising campaign made the front page of the Style section in the Washington Post and the front page of the Business section in the New York Times. ...

All's Fair in War and Politics--Or Is It?
Every election year, Americans bemoan what has become a hearty perennial in politics, known as "mudslinging," "dirty politics," "attack advertising," or just "going negative." Political candidates in local and national combat zones are expected to spend about one billion dollars on advertising this election year, about half on national broadcast television, with the remaining half split among radio, cable television, newspapers, direct mail, and on-line services and other new media. As the volume of campaign advertising grows, this political advertising draws much attention from academics, voters, and commentators. The commentators especially note the widespread public apathy toward the political process in the oldest democracy in the world. ...

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