This module is a resource for lecturers  


Guidelines to develop a stand-alone course


This Module provides an outline for a three-hour class, but there is potential to develop its topics further into a stand-alone course. The scope and structure of such a course will be determined by the specific needs of each context, but a possible structure is presented here as a suggestion. Ample materials for a full course are available in the Core and Advanced reading listed in this Module. The TED Talks referenced in the Module can be used in relevant classes for promoting discussion and debate.



Brief description


Role of journalism in society

Should cover the history of journalism and journalism stories relevant to the culture of the location and universally understood journalistic events. Use open class discussions and debates of journalism and the state as well as what journalism is today; private, public, entertainment, social/citizen-controlled (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc.), to engage students in the meaning of journalism and their role with media and in this class.

Suggested review for teaching ideas and material: Journalism: A Very Short Introduction.


Introduction and understanding ethics

This introductory class should focus on basic understandings of ethics and brief historical overviews of the major ethical theories (e.g. utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics) and philosophers (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Mill, Hegel, Kant, Marx, Rawls, Rorty, etc.)

This class and the next overlap in many ways and set the intellectual/cognitive expectations for the remaining classes on media ethics issues.

Suggested sources: Integrity and Ethics Module 1 and Media Ethics: Cases in Moral Reasoning


The Potter Box and how to use it

Introduction to the Potter Box as an ethical consideration tool. Using case studies, this class is used for student exercises and class reports on using the Potter Box. Its goal is to engage the students in ethical thinking and set the stage for reflection as media ethics issues are discussed in later classes. The goal will be to use the Potter Box at various times in later classes and then again at the end of the course for a reflection exercise and report.

Suggested sources: Media Ethics: Cases in Moral Reasoning; Ethics Dilemma: Use Potter Box; Beyond the Potter Box: A Decision Model Based on Moral Development Theory


Code of ethics and ethical case studies

Class reads and discusses the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Lecturer uses material and case studies to explore the practical meaning of a code of ethics, who and how it applies and helps in circumstances such as sharing information, anonymous or unnamed sources, citizen reports and using online sources without access to actual sources.

Suggested source: Society of Professional Journalists


What news is trustworthy and how to choose?

Class discussion and debate on what news to trust and what is a trustworthy source.

Suggested sources: Use TED-Talk on How to choose your news as a light opener. Teacher selects pages from Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload.


Does the media have a duty of care to avoid harm and to whom?

Class discussion and debate on what is a duty of care and does it apply to media. Explore this issue at the level of original reporting source, re-publication and re-transmission by media or citizens. Analogous examples may be drawn from re-publication of state secrets or pornography both of which carry a liability for subsequent publications.

Suggested sources: Use TED-Talk on Does the media have a "duty of care"? and selected reading from Media Law and Policy in the Internet Age


You are the media publisher, journalist or re-sender. How do you act on what you think you know?

Class discussion on how a journalist should think and dissect all facts and possible story from those facts before deciding on what the facts are and what should be published or republished. Allows students to role-play a journalist, editor, owners or consumers of media.

Suggested sources: Use TED-Talk on Think Like A Journalist and selected readings from The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect.


Who controls the media discourse and to what extent is it manipulated by interested parties or groups?

Class discussion, research and role-playing using materials and contemporary media stories for class exploration of bias, gain and special interest. The TED Talk challenges and exposes the fallacy of commonly held beliefs in media today.

Suggested sources: Use TED-Talk on Astroturf and manipulation of media messages and Introduction and Chapter 1 from The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.


What is "new journalism"? Citizen, consumer or collaborative journalism and its role

Start with the TED Talk Citizen Journalism as it sets out two very powerful true stories to raise the issues and accompanying complications to spark class discussions and debate. Suggested reading also introduces the students to photojournalism as a powerful citizen tool with examples from many parts of the world. This material can be expanded by student examples and Internet searching to create local content.

Suggested sources: Use TED-Talk on Citizen Journalism, and selected readings from Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives, Volume 1.


Media and social issue: a study on one issue and how to address it

Using Reporting on Corruption, class will cover the topics in the report and ask students to apply what they have learned about media and ethics to the specifics of reporting on corruption. Each chapter presents case examples to choose from and to engage students on their role in addressing corruption as journalists, media participants or media consumers.

Suggested sources: UNODC, Reporting on Corruption: A Resource Tool for Governments and Journalists.


Back to top