With the unbundling of Mass Communication programme in Nigeria, the face of communication education in the country has changed. The programme has transited into a full college/faculty while individual courses have adapted to the change. While several new courses now exist in the seven new departments, some of the courses you used to know before have also taken a new shape. We have done a thorough research on what these courses offer in universities across the world; and we have provided prototype syllabus for students to study ahead. This is also to assist lecturers who might be facing new challenges with several new courses to have an idea of what the syllabus of each course offers.
Faculty: Communication and Media Studies Department: Journalism & Media Studies
Course Code: CMS 402 Unit(s): 2 Semester: Second
Course Title: Media Ethics
Lecturer: Programme: B.Sc.
(A). BRIEF OVERVIEW OF COURSE
This course exposes students to ethical and moral standards applicable to the media and communication professionals. Students will be taught the ethical responsibilities of individuals, groups, and organizations engaged in message construction, transmission or consumption, particularly in the field of news and public affairs, entertainment and persuasion. The course discusses ethical dilemmas that confront professionals in print and broadcast journalism, visual communication (photojournalism and graphic design), and strategic communication (PR, advertising, and other business communication). It further explains codes of ethics for various media professions and evaluates how these guidelines have and have not been applied in specific settings (using real life examples). This course also explores what constitutes ethical practices, what interferes with ethical practices, and what emerging ethical issues may challenge a professional in the media and journalism fields. At the completion of this course, students would have learned how to make professional ethical decisions in an organized and informed way in the line of duty. Students should also be able to identify a range of moral problems and issues frequently associated with the media in society as well as with careers in the media. This includes having the ability to analyze these problems and their components, and making informed judgments based in ethical theory.
(B). COURSE OBJECTIVES/GOALS
By the end of this course, students will have learned:
- Meaning of key concepts such ethics, media ethics, journalism ethics, code of conduct, etc.
- Ethical and moral standards of communication professionals
- Ethical dilemmas that confront media professionals
- Codes of ethics of various media professionals
- What constitutes or interferes with ethical practices
- How to make ethical decisions in an informed way
- Critical understanding of ethics and their application to journalism and other communications professions
(C). METHOD OF LECTURE DELIVERY
- Practical Classroom Sessions
(D). COURSE OUTLINE
The course discusses ethical dilemmas that confront professionals in print and broadcast journalism, visual communication (photojournalism and graphic design), and strategic communication (PR, advertising, and other business communication). It further explains codes of ethics for various media professions and evaluates how these guidelines have and have not been applied in specific settings (using real life examples). This course also explores what constitutes ethical practices, what interferes with ethical practices, and what emerging ethical issues may challenge a professional in the media and journalism fields. At the completion of this course, students would have learned how to make professional ethical decisions in an organized and informed way in the line of duty.
Meaning of key concepts – ethics, mass media ethics, code of conduct, journalism ethics).
Historical overview of media ethics
Common ethical principles
Why are Communication Ethics Needed?
The Challenge of Communication Ethics
The Goal of Communication Ethics
2. Ethical Theories
Meaning of ethical theories
Divine command ethics
3. Core Principles of Ethical Journalism
Truth and accuracy
Fairness and impartiality
4. Journalism Ethics & Professional Codes
Defining concepts (Journalism ethics, Professional codes)
Journalism ethics in Nigeria
Codes of ethics of various professional bodies in communication
Objectivity, journalism and false balance
Ethical challenges for journalists
The ethical public relations campaign
5. Application of Ethics in Communication Professions
Journalism (print, broadcast, photography/photojournalism, visual journalism, blogging and other online journalism platforms)
6. Communicating Sensitive Subjects
Reporting on sensitive subjects (sexual ethics, rape, abortion, suicide, victims of trauma, stereotypes, etc.).
Sensitive subjects and strategic communication (advertising, public relations)
7. Brown Envelope Syndrome
Conceptualizing brown envelope syndrome
Historical overview of brown envelope syndrome
Influence of brown envelope syndrome on journalism profession
The great debate: Is brown envelope really unethical or just a kind gesture?
8. New Media Ethics
Concept of new media
Various kinds of new media
Citizen journalism ethics
Social media and the ‘Fake News’ era
Digital Ethics: meaning, social implications, emerging problems, e-reputation
9. Ethical dilemmas of journalists (Seek Truth & Report)
Accuracy, Correcting Errors, Protecting Sources, Information
Gathering, Access to Information, Duty as Watchdog, Stereotypes & Opinion, brown envelope)
10. Summarizing Quick Ethical Concepts for Media Professionals
Health and Crisis Ethics
Business and Professional Ethics
Ethics in the Public and Private Spheres
Ethics of the Reporter (professional integrity/Pillars of ethical journalism – seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent).
11. Class activities and Assignments
(E). RECOMMENDED TEXTS
Clifford, G., Christians, Kim, B. Rotzoll, Mark Fackler and Kathy Brittain McKee (2005). Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning, 7th edition, New York: Pearson.
David Gordon and John Michael Kittross (1999). Controversies in Media Ethics, 2nd edition, Longman, New York.
Weston, A. (2006). A Practical Companion to Ethics, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press.
(E). IMPORTANT LINKS