Date of Award

4-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Sandra Borden

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael S. Pritchard

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Today’s television weathercasters are being called upon increasingly to go beyond benign weather prognostications to become the “newsroom experts” for science topics. The expectation to act as both scientists and journalists can cause ethical ambivalence (EA), a sociological condition in which, faced with conflicting norms, the subject feels that he/she is being pulled psychologically in two different directions (Jansen & Von Glinow, 1985). This thesis presents a Rossian analysis of climate change in weathercasting, a topic that captures the most important ethical tensions arising from conflicting duties within the weathercaster role, specifically: a) how might the duties of the television weathercaster conflict in addressing climate change, creating an environment conducive to ethical ambivalence? and b) in case(s) of conflicting duties, how should he/she deliberate to determine right action? The analysis results in a set of recommendations for television weathercasters for handling the ethical ambivalence caused by such duty conflicts.

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