So that posts at other USF journalism blogs do not become too long, we can store documents here and then link to them here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Guidelines for Final Paper in American Journalism Ethics

Your final paper should be a straightforward term paper, 2,000-4,000 words long with standard footnotes and bibliography.

A wide range of topics is acceptable. One might take a general issue like plagiarism, protecting sources, invading privacy, cleaning up quotes, maintaining good relations on a beat, accepting gifts, identifying the race or ethnicity of people in the news, sacrificing accuracy in the service of being first, treating New Age stories (pet psychics, astrology) seriously, refusing to treat New Age stories seriously, cooperating with authorities by suppressing information in war stories or crime stories or stories of “national interest.” One might choose to be extra provocative: Is it possible for television news to be ethical???

You might also tackle specific events – the Lindbergh kidnapping; the Janet Cooke fiasco; the run-up to the current Iraq war; famous undercover cases – and probe their ethical dimensions.

I would keep in mind some of the things we talked about when we were preparing for the class presentations. What are/the facts of the situation? What is/was the common ethical view of the situation by those most intimately involved in the situation? What is/was the common ethical view of the situation at the time by those outside the situation, the experts, the pundits, the public? To what degree do you think a more rigorous ethical analysis is needed? That is, once you have collected opinions about the ethical issue, what do you think, applying some of the techniques and ideas we have discussed during the semester. (This is, of course, a golden opportunity to talk about the strengths and the limitations of the Potter Box.)

Remember: To pass this paper, you must cite three journalists with whom you have been in contact – face-to-face, phone or email. They need not be currently employed as journalists, which means other journalism faculty are fair game.

You have my phone number and my email.

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