Ethics

of

Mass

Communications

 


CMMN A474 is described in the Bulletin as "Examination of the moral principles which order the work of the communications professional. The social responsibility of mass media institutions and the individual responsibilities of the practitioners." The aim is to provide students in communications with a framework for understanding the moral responsibilities they will face as professionals and a method for making ethical decisions.

Values and competencies. On completion of the course, you should have a greater understanding of the principles that will enable you to work ethically within the mass communication structure in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity and be able to apply those principles to real-world situations. The course should also help you hone your ability to think critically, creatively and independently.


READING

The text for the course will be Louis A. Day's Ethics in Media Communications: Cases and Controversies. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 2006. As the calendar below shows, we will take up the background material on each topic in one class and, in the following class or classes, deal with the cases. Students will be responsible for taking part in role-play on the cases.

Other readings on current ethical problems in the media will be assigned from time to time. You will be expected to read them and be prepared to discuss them in class.

As communications students, you are also expected to keep up with cases in media ethics as discussed in the popular media and the specialized press of your field. You will also want to be familiar with issues raised on WWW sites related to ethics, many of which are listed at Media Ethics Online.

PAPER

Two projects are required, both of which are designed to stimulate further your thinking about ethical practice in media communications fields:
1. Compare and contrast the ethics codes of two associations of media professionals and write a paper of about 1,500 words in which you present the results of your analysis. Due Oct. 14.

2. Interview a professional working in a media agency to which one of the ethics codes you analyzed in your first project applies; e.g., a print journalist if you analyzed the SPJ code; an advertising practitioner if you analyzed the AAF code. Your objective will be to find out how familiar, if at all, the practitioner is with the code; what ethical standards the person holds (and how the person articulates them); whether the person believes ethics is important in his or her work and whether the person believes ethics is important to (and practiced by) others in the field; and, if the person has faced a ethical problem in his or her career and how he or she solved it. You should present the results of the interview in 1,500-1,750 words. You will also present your results to the class and discuss them with your classmates. Due Dec. 2.

Submit your papers through turnitin.com. We will talk in class about how to do that.

All work must be your own. The University's policy on "Integrity of Scholarship and Grades," published in the Undergraduate Bulletin, will apply. Any dishonesty will result in an F for the course.

Blackboard. Additional course material, including the ethics codes to be analyzed, will be distributed via Blackboard. Log into Blackboard by following the instructions at http://library.loyno.edu/LI/bb_faq_students.htm.

ATTENDANCE

Attendance is important. You may have five cuts without penalty. For each cut over five you will lose one letter grade. Class begins at 11 a.m. Because people coming in late distract others, you are expected to be here at the start of class. Each tardiness will count as one-half a cut.

GRADING

Your grade will be based on participation in cases (15 percent), papers (20 percent each), mid-term examination (20 percent) and final examination (25 percent).

A=91-100; B= 81-90; C=71-80; D=61-70; F=0-60.

All work must be your own. The University's policy on "Integrity of Scholarship and Grades," published in the Undergraduate Bulletin, will apply. Any dishonesty will result in an F for the course.

Classroom decorum

A few rules are necessary so that no one will be distracted from the work we are doing:

Please be here at the start of class. Each tardiness will count as one-half a cut.
If you have a cell phone, turn it off before you enter the classroom.
Please do not leave the room during class. If you do leave, do not take your classmates' attention away from their work a second time by returning.
There is to be no eating, drinking or gum chewing in class.
If you have a cold, please bring tissues or a handkerchief so that you do not annoy others with sniffling-especially during exams.
Males: Do not wear a hat in class, please.

 "The First Amendment is a very liberal amendment as it is now applied and interpreted by the courts and implemented by statutes. That liberality depends to a large extent upon the responsibility with which the freedom that it confers is exercised. Since the ultimate law of any society is going to be survival, if that responsibility disappears, other statutes will be passed."

--Justice Antonin Scalia



Updated AUGUST 23, 2005

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