Michael Bugeja is the author of "Living Media Ethics" (Routledge/Taylor & Francis) and "Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine" (Oxford Univ. Press). He is a regular contributor to Iowa Capital Dispatch and is writing a series of columns on the topic of "Living Ethics."
How often do you lie? It’s probably more often than you realize
By: Michael Bugeja - September 5, 2021
This summer, I contributed a chapter on falsehood to an influential book edited by Alex Grech, founding director of the 3CL Foundation. Alex also teaches new media at the University of Malta. The book’s title puts our global situation in perspective: “Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society: From Fake News, Datafication and Mass […]
After a tsunami of negative emotions, can we find saving grace?
By: Michael Bugeja - August 1, 2021
In the past few years people have weathered a tsunami of negative emotions, triggered by political strife, economic hardship and global pandemic. How many have you experienced in the list below? Fear Anger Disgust Rage Annoyance Sadness Loneliness Melancholy Social media spread those emotions among the populace. The Brookings Institution used Twitter data to document […]
Bourdain film illustrates ethical issues with voice cloning, media manipulation
By: Michael Bugeja - July 24, 2021
In a new documentary about the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, he is heard discussing his life shortly before committing suicide. “You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Questions arose about Bourdain’s voice. He wrote those words in an email, and people were wondering how the filmmaker purloined an […]
Satire explores unspoken truths but is often misunderstood
By: Michael Bugeja - June 25, 2021
Satire explores the truths that few admit but all know, using a double-meaning title and what’s known in literature as an “unreliable voice” without making its points against innocent others. That’s a tall order. Without truth, attempts at satire lapse into sarcasm or comedy, generating insults or laughs at the expense of another person, thing […]
Memorial Day memories: Courage of war correspondents
By: Michael Bugeja - May 25, 2021
I never fought in the Vietnam War. I joined United Press International, a worldwide wire service, in 1975 at the end of that conflict. My heroes were UPI war correspondents — Leon Daniel, Kate Webb and Joseph L. Galloway. Daniel was a friend. He died in 2006. Webb was a role model and later, mentor. […]
Digital data are not a shortcut to fact-based truth
By: Michael Bugeja - May 15, 2021
Basic truths: Can you cite the rainbow of veracity?
By: Michael Bugeja - April 4, 2021
With Americans spending on average almost 2 ½ hours a day on social media, small wonder that few of us can define the various categories of truth. Sure, we know all about falsehoods — fake news, hoaxes, half-truths, exaggerations and so-called “white lies” — and can identify each with little prompting. Did you know that […]
Finding peace of mind in a disquieting age
By: Michael Bugeja - March 21, 2021
Often our troubles are so intense that we think of them every waking minute, longing for peace and quiet, a lull, however temporary, so we can regain our balance. There is no peace in the disquiet of pandemic and partisan politics. There are two main meanings of peace. One is the absence of war. The […]
Is there still value in teaching ethics?
By: Michael Bugeja - February 20, 2021
Each day we hear about fake news, far-out conspiracies and Facebook claims — a media menu based on affirmation rather than information. Small wonder some people believe ethics classes are useless. Every era thinks its moral failures are epic. We might revisit this argument as we navigate the new year with resolutions and reservations. The […]
What are your ‘trigger’ words and how to they affect your perception?
By: Michael Bugeja - January 20, 2021
If we learned anything in 2020, it is how words have consequences. They can heal or hurt. Inspire or conspire. Certain words and phrases elicit intense positive or negative emotions. These are called “trigger” words, and they influence how we view the world. The ethical question is who or what put them in our psyches. […]
Everyday problems, problems every day: why we must learn to adapt
By: Michael Bugeja - December 31, 2020
The sages knew that “every day has its problems” — new ones that arise without warning — in addition to “everyday problems” that we face day in, day out. Everyday problems include mental illness, sorrow, fear, injustice, violence, addiction, conflict and persecution — in other words, all the social ills that Jesus of Nazareth addressed […]
A holiday season of gratification or gratitude?
By: Michael Bugeja - November 26, 2020
Gratification and gratitude share the same Latin root, gratus, or “pleasure.” We may experience gratification when we shop for a gift and express gratitude when we receive one. During the holidays, according to secular and religious traditions, we should feel and convey gratitude. As the year winds down, it’s an ideal time for reflection and […]