Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja

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." Views expressed here are his own.


Gen Z and the thirst for justice

By: - May 14, 2023

Several of my media ethics students have used a religious phrase in a secular manner, apparently uncertain of its source: “a thirst for justice.” It appears in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3-10), commonly known as the Beatitudes, a series of blessings by Jesus of Nazareth during his Sermon on the Mount, a hill overlooking the […]


Social influencer ethics and the implications of a TikTok ban

By: - April 15, 2023

President Joe Biden signed a congressional bill late last year banning TikTok on federal government devices, and now more than half of the states, including Iowa, have followed suit. There also is talk in Washington about banning the app altogether because it is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, with officials fearing user data being […]


Chatbots and plagiarism: Will we ‘get over it’?

By: - February 16, 2023

In 1999, Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, told reporters and technology analysts concerned about internet algorithms that people have “zero privacy anyway. Get over it!” The comment shocked people. With the emergence of ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) — a free online application that dialogues with users — teachers are in “near panic” with concerns […]


The sanctity of the word: Are we giving words enough respect?

By: - February 5, 2023

One of the most memorable biblical lines makes a pronouncement, a promise and a pact: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The term reverberates in everyday sayings, such as: “Mark my word.” “I give you my word.” “You have my word.” “She […]


Media companies must do more to prevent abuse of women journalists

By: - January 4, 2023

Journalists are routinely vilified on social media and on the beat, with women enduring the brunt of abuse. There were 25 organized troll campaigns targeting women reporters in the first half of 2020, according to Ms. Magazine. Additionally, the magazine cited 267 attacks and threats, with many mentioning women’s appearance and sexuality, including death and […]


The optics of American hate

By: - November 1, 2022

The road to hell isn’t paved anymore with good intentions. The asphalt is hatred. Chances are you have experienced it recently. A person may have confronted you because of race or ethnicity. One study shows that 22% of Americans have encountered that or had their property damaged because of their skin color or culture. You […]


The remedy for conflicts of interest is transparency

By: - September 6, 2022

We often hear the phrase “conflict of interest” pertaining to government officials violating their oath to serve the public interest. According to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the most common conflicts involve officeholders voting on land use matters that impact their own holdings. “Other examples include voting to grant a benefit to a company […]


It’s our job — and yours — to protect the public interest

By: - August 1, 2022

Journalists, politicians and educators have a duty to inform, instruct and serve the people — not themselves or special interests. The public interest concerns the general welfare of society meriting recognition and protection. Journalists inform the public so that people are aware of anything that threatens their welfare. Educators enlighten citizens so that they can […]


Our first president left us lessons on civility and humility

By: - July 3, 2022

When George Washington was 6 years old, he received a hatchet as a gift and immediately tested it on his father’s cherry tree. His father saw the damaged tree and asked his son if he had done the deed. The boy confessed with his most famous maxim: “I cannot tell a lie.” The story itself […]


How to disarm manipulation and gaslighting, personally and politically

By: - May 30, 2022

We all know that domestic violence is a common occurrence in Iowa and elsewhere, but statistics are sobering, with one in every four women having experienced it in their lifetimes. Some 1.3 million women are victims of such violence each year. Women aged 20-24 are at greatest risk. Tactics of abusers involve manipulation and gaslighting. […]


Annoyed: How to keep everyday irritations from wrecking your day

By: - May 7, 2022

We live, work and learn in an increasingly aggravating environment. Robocalls rank among the top petty annoyances. We may overlook one or two, but several in a day can trigger ire. Americans receive close to 4 billion robocalls per month, on track for 47 billion robocalls by the end of the year. The content of […]


Guerilla theater, stunts and pranks make a mark on politics

By: - April 10, 2022

In 1967, activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin staged one of the greatest political pranks of all time when they entered the New York Stock Exchange and threw dollar bills to the traders on the floor. Free money, seemingly from the heavens, sparked reactions. Some rushed for the bills. while others waved or shook their […]