This module is a resource for lecturers  


Core reading


This section provides a list of materials that the lecturer could ask the students to read before taking a class based on this Module.

  • Hargraves, Ian (2014). Journalism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford:Oxford University Press. See Chapter 7, Murder is my meat: the ethics of journalism (pp. 109-125).  » These assigned pages cover the ethics of journalists and the moral conflicts that can arise even if ethically correct. Oftentimes gruesome photos are not printed but facts that are deeply personal (and can lead to harm or suicide) are printed under a right to know. Freedom of the press requires a self-regulatory approach to what is the right thing to do when the decision is not clearly a right vs. wrong decision. Introduces the students to situational ethics and moral relativism in journalistic decisions.
  • Harwood, Kenneth (2017). Visiting the house of rumor . Media Ethics, vol. 28, No. 2 (Spring).  » Provides a historical perspective and highlights that the concerns for fake news and rumour are not new or just a social media problem. Can generate a dynamic class discussion on how to address a modern problem with ancient roots.
  • Russell, Frank (2016). Beyond rock bottom: will the news media learn any lessons from coverage of the 2016 election? Media Ethics, vol 28, No.1 (Fall).  » Discusses the conflict between media as a neutral reporting system, a truth fact checker to ethically report, or just a big business. Students may focus on this quote in the article: "Among the quotes that will not soon be forgotten from this election cycle [2016 US Presidential Election] will be one from CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves. 'It may not be good for America,' he said of the campaign, 'but its damn good for CBS.'" The lecturer can use the two aforementioned articles from Media Ethics or can choose alternative articles based on regional emphasis and student age/level. Articles in Media Ethics magazine are often short and of an op-ed or commentary style such that the student may wish to support or debate the author's position.
  • Society of Professional Journalists (2018).  » While this site focuses on journalism, its ethics code, articles and blog are applicable across the spectrum of media and social media. It is also a useful site for interested students to be familiar with and explore in their own time. The following two sections of the site will prove especially useful for this module:
    • Code of Ethics (2014).  » Ethical rules for journalists with broad application to all media and social media. Available at the site above in PDF versions in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
    • Ethics Case Studies (2018).  » Provides ethical case studies for further class discussions.
  • Swain, Kristen Alley (1994). Beyond the Potter Box: a decision model based on moral development theory .  » This essay proposes a detailed justification model that includes decision criteria beyond those of the widely used Potter Box. The model's steps, which correspond to Kohlberg's stages of moral development, encourage journalists to examine the relative morality of their decisions on multiple levels.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2013). Reporting on Corruption: A Resource Tool for Governments and Journalists . New York, See Chapter V, Integrity and Accountability (pp. 73-83).  » Chapter V discusses the role media plays in exposing public corruption and informing society, and raises the questions of what measures the media should take to address transparency, integrity, and accountability in its own dealings, including the ownership and operations of private sector media outlets.
  • Veeneman, Alex (2018). The power of words . 16 January.  » This blog discusses the debate over repeating in news reports the use of vulgar or inflammatory words that are part of a news event. When (if ever) is the use of vulgar, inflammatory, demeaning or discriminatory words a necessary element to understanding the story? What is the journalist and media ethical responsibility for accuracy versus deleting words or facts that are part of the story but are not necessary to tell the story?
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