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.


Basic truths: Can you cite the rainbow of veracity?

By: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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 […]


Patience is a virtue, especially in this election

By: - October 27, 2020

With allegations about mail-in ballots, rigged elections and voter intimidation, Americans likely will not know the victor of the 2020 presidential race on the morning of Nov. 4. That’s why we should embrace patience as a virtue. Given partisan views, we will need it. President Trump has made dozens of attacks on the integrity of […]


The ethics of presidential slogans: They may be catchy, but can we believe them?

By: - September 28, 2020

“In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States, but the first to appear on a circulating coin was “Mind Your Business,” conceived by Benjamin Franklin. The motto appears on the 1787 “Fugio” cent — the Latin for “I fly” is a reference to “time flies.” The coin also is printed with a depiction of […]


Identity: Who are we behind the masks, shields and social distance?

By: - August 27, 2020

We think about this incessantly but seldom, if ever, mention it, except perhaps to a confidant in existential moments. We have had many of those in the age of coronavirus whose masks, shields and social distance provide the perfect camouflage for contemplation. Who are we and why? When, where and what shaped our experiences and […]


Free press v. free will: Do we have either?

By: - August 6, 2020

The 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) maintained that we all have free will. At issue, he says, is who or what shaped that will. In his book “Essays and Aphorisms,” he writes, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” In other words, perception […]


What the media call ‘divine’ justice in politics and pandemic usually isn’t

By: - July 3, 2020

Media have been using, and misusing, the term “divine justice.” The New York Times cited the term in a report titled, “‘A Bit of Divine Justice’: Trump Vowed to Change Libel Law. But Not Like This.” The president, a libel defendant, lost a decision to victims of sexual misconduct who now can sue when called […]


What makes a journalist — the person or the device?

By: - June 8, 2020

Reporter arrests and assaults continue to rise during ongoing George Floyd protests with more than 300 violations of First Amendment rights, according to U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Incidents have been captured on video. This compilation includes the blinding in one eye of freelance photographer Linda Tirado. Des Moines Register reporters Andrea Sahouri and Katie Akin […]