The Best WritersMED312 Media EthicsEssay questions 2020-21Coursework 1: Essay: 2,000 words, contributing 50 per cent of your overall mark. Hand-in date: Monday, March 21, 2022THE BORING BUT NECESSARY BITRemember, this is an academic essay and should draw on key texts, which must be properly referenced.Essays submitted without a bibliography and without clear evidence of detailed background reading will fail. These essay questions are extremely topical so you will need to do internet research but you also need academic research; you must use scholarly books and/or journal articles.Word count: Failure to stay within +/- 10% of 2,000 words will incur a penalty of 10% of the mark otherwise awarded.Carrying out research for these questionsAs well as looking at books on the reading list, we would strongly recommend you look in academic journals, eg British Journalism Review, Journalism Practice, Journalism Studies, Digital JournalismAcademic journal articles are often more up-to-date than academic books and they are all available online.It’s simple just type a relevant word (eg “privacy” or “intrusion” or “fake news”) into the search box of any of these academic journals, accessed via the University Library homepage.You might also like to search in this excellent, free online resource:On some of the topics covered in the questions there has been much comment and analysis by columnists and experts in the press you could quote this material. But that is not a substitute for academic source material; you would still need academic sources as well.Don’t make the mistake of trying to source the entire essay from internet searches.Choose one of the following:QUESTION 1A reporter for a regional newspaper/broadcaster is sent out on a ‘death knock’ following the death of a young boy in a road accident. The reporter is a friend of the grieving mother. The mother answers the door, and in the interview reveals that she had been walking the boy to primary school when he had run out into the street to chase his football. She feels racked with guilt because she had not been watching him at the time she had been busy texting on her mobile phone. She realised how often she and other parents were distracted by their phones. What are the ethical considerations of running such an interview?A good answer should examine the ethical relationships between the interviewer, the interviewee, the publication, the reader and society as a whole. How does a journalist balance the competing interests between them? You must consider codes of conduct and philosophical theories of ethics.Advice/contextWe will look at philosophical theories of ethics in next week’s lecture and seminar and their relationship to codes of conduct.We will look at privacy and intrusion in depth in Week 5’s lecture the week after next.One excellent source of information about this comes from the IPSO Editors’ Codebook, which we’ll look at then.We will also look at the ethics of interviewing the balance of power between the interviewer and interviewee.QUESTION 2In what ways and to what extent are journalism and democracy threatened in a “post-truth” world?Reuters Institute Report January 2020: Fighting Words this is a great place to startAdvice/contextThis was the subject of this week’s lecture.As mentioned in the lecture, truth is at the ethical heart of this question and the freedom of the press: the freedom of the press to voice difficult, uncomfortable truthsYou would need to talk about the “normal” relationship between journalism and government in a democratic societyHow, where and to what extent, has that relationship broken down in recent years?What is the threat to democracy as a result of that situation?What is the threat to journalism?What is the more general threat to journalism (and journalists) and democracy in the face of conspiracy theories and the social media erosion of trust in the news media? It is possible that conspiracy theories are used to deflect our attention from important issues. (see The Coming Storm).You might like to look at the problem of journalists wittingly, or unwittingly, spreading fake news and, on the other hand, the rise of fact-checking sites.Remember to define your terms: democracy, post-truthFurther viewing/listeningPost-truth Times: We The MediaDid the storming of the Capitol damage US mediaThe Media Show: There’s no democracy without a strong, free pressIan Hislop’s Fake News: A True History: The Media Show: How conspiracy theories hijacked the news: The Media Show: Free Speech vs The Internet (in wake of Trump being taken off social media): The Media Show: Whose truth is it anyway? Newsoom rebellions, “cancel culture,and the question of free speech: The Media Show: Fake news? Meet the fake journalists. How news outlets inadvertently published propaganda from a network of fake journalists. QUESTION 3“Journalists sketch in the contours of our moral landscape” (Sanders 2003:9). In what ways and to what extent has journalism sketched in the contours of our moral landscape in recent years.Further listeningContextThink of the role of journalism in societyThink of the great investigative reporting of recent years once again, it’s about journalists uncovering and publishing the truthConsider the impact of it:Sexual politics, race and society, tax evasion, expenses abuse, care home abuse, exploitation of fashion trade workers in the developing world etcGive examplesIn this context, how crucial is journalism’s role in society?Much of this investigative journalism is as a result of whistleblowing. Rob Jewitt’s lecture on this subject in Week 6 will provide information and inspiration for your essays.You might also like to consider the impact of others in society who “sketch in the contours of our moral landscape”. Can you think of others?QUESTION 4According to a report by the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism “Journalism plays an irreplaceable role in both democratic politics and market economies.” Critically assess the role of journalism in democratic politics and market economies, weighing up economic and commercial pressures as well as ethical obligations and responsibilities.Advice/contextWhat is the role of journalism in democratic politics and market economies? Is it an irreplaceable one?A good answer should give examples of journalism playing and failing to play its ethical role in society.It should look at the ethical fault lines the commercial and political pressures, for instance, which might cause journalism to be unethical, which might obstruct its ethical obligation to tell the truth.What would happen if journalism wasn’t there?Are there other bodies in society performing a watchdog role? This is something you might like to consider.(as always, you would need to define your terms: what is a market economy?)Don’t forget BobHow to reference a TV or radio show from a streaming service If you’re using Bob (Box of Broadcasts), you can see the transcript and obtain a bibliographical reference. For instance:The Princes and the Press, The New Generation, 00:05 08/12/2021, BBC2 England, 60 mins. https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/prog/3BE9854F?bcast=135803192 (Accessed 25 Jan 2022)How to reference a podcast.You could use the podcasts or TV programmes just for background, but you might want to reference themAn FAQ: how to reference an author quoted in another author’s work?
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