Rock Ethics Institute launches 'Ethics Now' webcast

Using remote videoconferencing, the institute aims for broadcast-studio production value

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute is launching a regularly scheduled, broadcast-quality webcast using internet conferencing applications.

Scheduled to air live on Friday mornings, “Ethics Now” will focus on ethical considerations in policy, research and daily life as they apply to current events and the news cycle. And with deference to the popular ethics-centered television show “The Good Place,” there occasionally will be programs focusing on classical ethical considerations, such as the well-known Trolley Problem, noted Ted Toadvine, Nancy Tuana Director of the Rock Ethics Institute.

“We couldn’t have predicted that we would be launching our ‘Ethics Now’ webcast during a global health crisis,” said Toadvine. “But there is no better time for thinking together than when the world seems to be falling apart. Our hope is to build community and courage by reflecting on the ethical challenges confronting us.”

Produced and hosted by veteran broadcaster David Price, “Ethics Now” is formatted like a television news magazine.

“That format allows us to vary the content from single-person interviews to panel discussions to long-form, pre-produced elements and everything in between,” Price said. “It also gives us the opportunity to simultaneously create a podcast and to chunk out program highlights that we can feature on the Rock Ethics Institute website and elsewhere. It’s quite nimble.”

The first production of “Ethics Now” will air as a Zoom webinar and Facebook Live feed at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 22.

The topic for the inaugural production is “Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 … Art in the Time of Pandemic.” The guests scheduled to appear in episode one are:

You can watch online via Zoom. The program also will air on Facebook Live on the Rock Ethics Institute Facebook Page here.

Upcoming scheduled programs also will focus on aspects of the novel coronavirus pandemic:

“Ethics Now” is conceived as a television broadcast-quality program produced and broadcast live primarily using internet conferencing utilities, like Zoom.

“This is a terrific challenge and a tricky production scenario,” Price said, “There are no television studio cameras. There is no production master control studio to route everything through beautifully and seamlessly. There’s not a team of expert technicians making sure everything goes right at every step along the production path — making the host and guests look and sound great. There’s just compelling content coming from the computer cameras of the experts wherever they may be, and an off-campus computer array with a single operator.”

Price has been a long-time, on-air presence in central Pennsylvania. In addition to being news director at WWCP/WATM in Johnstown and a news and weather anchor on WTAJ in Altoona, he also was lead producer at Penn State’s WPSU, where he produced and hosted the popular high school quiz show “Scholastic Scrimmage,” created and hosted the Penn State football talk show “Huddle Up,” and created and co-hosted the public affairs program “Pennsylvania Inside Out.”

“One day,” Price added, “maybe we’ll get into a more controlled environment, but I’m operating under the likelihood that everything has changed. No matter what the ‘new normal’ looks like, it’s not going to look like the ‘old normal.’ We’ve been forced to identify new production possibilities with new cost considerations at lightning speed, and I’m certain that we’re going to keep using some version of them well into the future. The Rock Ethics Institute plans on being fully prepared for whatever is next.”

David Price
Producer and Host of "Ethics Now"
 Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated May 20, 2020