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JRN420 Journalism Ethics

Lead Faculty: Dr. Sara-Ellen L. Amster Ph.D

Course Description

This course will examine how objectivity developed in American journalism and what criticisms exist against it. Students will consider real-life ethical scenarios that have faced newspaper journalists, TV reporters, established website journalists and blog authors. Students will discuss how they would have handled the situations and why. Discussions will also revolve around such issues as: the standard of objectivity and potential alternative systems and the influence of different journalistic formats on ethical choices.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the elements of an ethical code
  • Describe how ethical standards are used
  • Classify the problems that result when ethical standards are breached
  • Identify the times reporters have parted with conventional ethics for a so-called higher purpose or examine instances when such a departure might be acceptable.
  • Differentiate between when sources are "going off the record" and when they know everything they say or do is fair material for a printed or on-air story.
  • Identify the special ethical circumstances for dealing with and interviewing crime victims, private people and public officials.