Ethical Encounters : The Value of Care and Emotion in the Production of Mediated Narratives

Sammanfattning: Factual storytelling that relies on the participation of real-life people must navigate between obligations towards the participant and the story. By placing the relationship between storyteller and subject at the centre, this thesis offers an interdisciplinary examination of ethical and moral issues in the context of turning other people’s experiences into mediated narrative.Besides bringing the interests of participating subjects to the forefront, the study explores the relevance of care ethics within a media context and argues how this perspective contributes to ethical and moral reflection in the scholarly domain of media ethics as well as within media practice. This involves operationalizing the theory of care ethics, with particular emphasis on relational obligations and the moral significance of emotions. With its focus on relational and emotional aspects, the study joins the emerging discussion about the affective dimensions of journalism and extends this discussion to the domain of media ethics.Extensive interviews with six documentary filmmakers and seven participating subjects comprise the empirical foundation of this case study. Narrative emotion analysis is used to identify subjects’ interests related to participation. By placing focus on subjects’ interests and agency, the relationship between storyteller and subject, as well as the filmmakers’ conflicting obligations, the study highlights a number of ethical issues that transcend the documentary format. The empirical material is regarded against the backdrop of previous research within journalism and documentary ethics, and is discussed within a care ethics framework.The findings of the study demonstrate the importance of relational factors to the participant experience. The relationship between storyteller and subject emerges as a trusting relationship where affective signals and emotion management are important aspects in the filmmakers’ conduct. Regarded through the theoretical lens of care ethics, the importance of the relationship to both parties establishes the relationship as being subject to weighty duties. Relational and emotional aspects of the journalistic profession have been placed in the shadow of procedural and deontological concerns. This thesis argues that, to foster ethical practice within factual storytelling, scholars and practitioners alike must take emotional and relational dimensions seriously. The incorporation of care ethics into media ethics is a step in that direction.

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