MEDIA Ethics, MCOM 433

MEDIA Ethics, MCOM 433 – 6:30 Wednesday, Spring 2014
Instructor: Prof. Beth Haller, Ph.D.
Phone: (410) 704-2442
Office: Van Bokkelen 205B
E-mail: bhaller@towson.edu

Office Hours:
2-3:15 p.m. MW, 5-6:15 Mondays and by appointment. Feel free to send me E-mail messages with questions about the class.

Course prerequisites:
MCOM 433 requires a grade of C (2.0) or higher in MCOM 101. You must be an MCOM major to take the course and have Junior/Senior standing.

Course Description:
“Ethical principles, issues, dilemmas in mass communication; professional codes; personal, interpersonal, small group, organizational and societal factors affecting ethical mediated communication. Prerequisites for undergraduates: MCOM 101/102, majors only and junior/senior standing” (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog).

Media ethics is an upper-level course that is designed to help you become aware of the theoretical approaches that underlie the application of ethics, use ethical decision-making strategies to analyze actual and proposed cases, develop ethical guidelines for personal and professional behavior, and evaluate cases given ethical codes and offer recommendations for ethical communication.

Course Objectives:
At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  •  Recognize ethical issues inherent in mass communication theory and practice;
  • Identify, use, compare, and contrast major ethical approaches and decision-making strategies;
  • Apply critical thinking skills to ethical dilemmas;
  • Analyze media messages, issues, and cases in terms of their ethical implications;
  • Develop personal and professional codes of ethics for yourself and your performance as a media professional; and
  • Evaluate diverse approaches, practices, and effects within media, using sound, logical reasoning and effective writing.

Course Format:
We will begin the semester with a number of readings and lectures designed to familiarize you with ethics as a philosophical field and approaches to decision making. Then we will begin to examine ethical theories in depth, one at a time, applying each to different case studies. Eventually, you will be asked to compare and contrast different approaches as well as apply them to case studies. You will be expected to contribute meaningfully to class discussions and case analyses, which means you will need to keep up with readings as they are assigned. You should read carefully and critically, taking notes on your reading as well as class lectures and case studies presented, so that you are prepared to discuss and apply the material intelligently in class discussions and activities.

Required Textbooks/Supplies:
Media Ethics. Cases and Moral Reasoning by Christians C.G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K.B., Kreshel, P.J., & Woods, Jr., R.H., 2011, Allyn & Bacon.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Grading:
Participation/Attendance: 20%
Exam 1: 20%
Exam 2: 20%
Case study analysis (written): 20%
Case study Powerpoint and presentation (oral): 20%

Grading criteria for written assignments and course in general:
90 – 100 (“A” & “A-”). On the written assignments, this means the paper is clear, organized coherently, and well-written. It is an effective discussion of the topic. It has no spelling, grammar, format, or accuracy errors. In terms of the course, this means you have almost perfect attendance, scores in this range on the tests/assignments, and have good questions and discussion in class.

80 – 89 (“B+”,”B”, & “B-”). On the written assignments, the paper is cohesive and well-organized, although it may have some minor spelling or grammatical errors. The discussion covers almost all of the important information and follows proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have good attendance, scores in this range on the tests/assignments, and have good questions and discussion in class.

70 – 79 (“C+” & “C”). On the written assignments, the paper is disorganized and contains many minor errors. The discussion missed some pertinent information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have poor attendance, scored in this range on the tests/assignments, and have not participated in class discussions.

60 – 69 (“D+” & “D”). On the written assignments, the paper ineffectively discusses the topic; it is not coherent or understandable. It contains an unacceptable number of spelling, grammar errors and/or inaccurate information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests/assignments, and have not participated in class discussions. Students may receive upper level elective credit with a D, but this course will not count among MCOM credits.

Below 60 (“F”).* The paper contains major factual error(s) related to the topic. The information presented is completely incorrect. The paper does not meet the requirements in page length, focus, or format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests/assignments, and have not participated in class discussions. If you are caught cheating in any way, you will automatically receive an F in the course. If you take the final exam and your average is below 60, you will receive F rather than an FX.

(“FX”).* This is an administrative failure for non-attendance or failure to withdraw. If you do not withdraw from the course by Towson’s preset deadlines for the semester and stop attending the class, this is the grade you will receive.

(“I”) Incomplete. At Towson University, students may only receive an Incomplete with “verifiable medical reasons” and “where students have completed most of the term” (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog). I recommend a medical withdrawal over an incomplete. In many years of teaching, I have had only had a few students finish an Incomplete.

* If you receive an F or FX, you may only repeat the course once. After repeating the course, students will only receive credit for the course once and the highest of the grades will be calculated. The lower grade will remain on the transcript with an “R” before it to indicate the course was repeated. For the transcript to reflect the repeated course, students MUST submit a Repeated Course Form to the Records Office. Transcript adjustments are NOT automatic (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog).

* Students may not attempt this course for a third time without prior permission from the Academic Standards Committee.

Guidelines for all assignments:
* Late papers will lose up to a letter grade for each day they are late.
* Do not plagiarize, fabricate, or submit work you have done for another class.
Academic Dishonesty: I do not tolerate plagiarism or fabrication of any kind. You should adhere to the University’s policy on cheating and plagiarism. If you are caught breaking this policy, you will be prosecuted to the full extent that the policy allows. You should adhere to the highest possible standards of ethical behavior for this class.
* All assignments must be typed double-space in the form requested and should contain your name, the date, and the assignment topic in the upper left-hand corner. (No folders or binders are necessary for assignments. Just staple the pages together.)
* All written work must adhere to the highest standard of college-level writing. On all work, both content and presentation are important. Your work must be well-organized, clear, concise, and accurate. You are expected to use correct grammar, style, citations, spelling, word choice, and punctuation. Proofread and correctly edit your papers!

Students with Disabilities:
If you are registered with Disability Support Services (DSS), please see your instructor during the first two weeks of class to arrange your specific accommodations. If you believe you may need accommodation and have not registered with DSS, please do so by calling 410-704-2638. Website: http://www.towson.edu/dss/

Student Athletes:
Within the first two weeks of class, you must have a letter from the coach explaining your place on the team and a schedule of any away games or competitions during the semester. You must take any tests or prepare any assignments that conflict with this schedule before the test or due date, not after.

Assignments:
Case study written paper: This will be a written analysis of an ethical cases/situations from the book of 1,000 words. The paper should discuss the facts, possible actions, consequences, as well as applying ethical theory or theories using the Potter Box. The paper should adhere to APA style for citations, sources, and appearance. http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/citing-sources

Case study Powerpoint presentation: You will prepare a Powerpoint presentation that analyzes an ethical case/situation from the book. They should discuss the facts, possible actions, consequences, as well as applying ethical theory or theories. Your Powerpoint should include visual elements, i.e. related photos, videos, or screen captures. In the notes section of each Powerpoint slide, you should include the sources of your slides and the commentary you will be making about each slide. You will email me the Powerpoint about your case so I can post it on the class Blackboard site. Your in-class oral presentation should be 15-20 minutes.

Exams: You will take two exams, one in-class and one take-home. Each exam will feature a variety of questions designed to elicit your knowledge, understanding, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the topics presented in this course. Exams may include true-false, multiple-choice, matching, short-answer, and essay questions. The exams are not cumulative in nature.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE
(Schedule changes will be announced in class.)
(Readings are for the week and should be read before attending class.)

WEEK READINGS ASSIGNMENTS/CASE PRESENTATIONS
Jan. 29 Media Ethics, Ethical Foundations and Perspectives, pp. 1-30
Feb. 5 Media Ethics, Chapter 1: Institutional Pressures, pp. 31-46
Feb. 12 Media Ethics, Chapter 2: Truthtelling pp. 47-59
Feb. 19 Media Ethics, Chapter 11: Telling The Truth In Organizational Settings, pp. 213-225
Feb. 26 Media Ethics, Chapter 3: Reporters And Sources, pp. 60-77
March 5 Exam 1 (Ethical foundations & chapters 1-2, 11 from Media Ethics book)
March 12
Chapter 3: Reporters And Sources, pp. 60-77 Case presentations: 12. Risky Foods 15. “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains”
March 26
Media Ethics, Chapter 5: Invasion Of Privacy, pp. 95-114. Case presentations: 18. Facebook and Social Media Networks 19. The Controversial PATRIOT Act 20. Bloggers’ Code of Ethics 21. A Prostitute on Page 12 22. Dead Body Photo
April 2 Media Ethics, Chapter 6: The Commercialization Of Everyday Life, pp. 120-137. Case presentations: 23. Is That an Ad? Are You Sure? 24. DTC Advertising: Prescription Drugs as Consumer Products? 25. Shopping to Save the World 26. How Did You Know That? Ethics of Behavioral Targeting
April 9

(April 11 is the last day to withdraw from the regular semester.)

Media Ethics, Chapter 7: Advertising In An Image-Based Culture, pp. 138-154. Case presentations: 27. Making the Same Different: Branding 28. Stereotyping Attitude 29. Everyone Know Her: The Unattainable Ideal 30. But She’s Only 4! The Hypersexualization of Young Girls 31. Real Beauty: Responsible Images? 32. Animal Rights: Responsible Images?
April 16 Media Ethics, Chapter 9: Advertising’s Professional Culture, pp. 177-198. Case presentations: 38. “. . . Perhaps the Absence of a Code of Ethics”? 39. Ethical Vision: What Does It Mean to Serve Clients Well? 40. Kids Are Getting Older Younger 41. A Woman’s Place Is . . .? 42. A Diverse Advertising Workplace: An Oxymoron?
April 23 Media Ethics, Chapter 10: Public Communication, pp. 201-212.Chapter 12: Conflicting Loyalties, pp. 226-238. Case presentations:  44. Publicity and Justice 205 45. The Many Friends of the Candidate 46. Bundling Campaign Support 53. Indictments Indicate Corrupt Lobbying 54. Accelerating Recalls  56. Tragedy at the Mine
April 30 Media EthicsChapter 13: The Demands Of Social Responsibility, pp. 239-250. Case presentations: 57. One for One: Helping Consumers Become Heroes 58. Promoting “Hope for Haiti Now” 59. Pepsi Challenged by Rumors 60. Swept Away in a Storm
May 7 Take-home exam* given out Graduate student PR ethics presentations

*Take-home exam due on the day of the final exam.

SIGN-UP SHEET
Students will select two different cases, one for written analysis and one for the Powerpoint presentation.

Case Written analysis. Student name Powerpoint presentation. Student name
12. Risky Foods
15. “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains”
18. Facebook and Social Media Networks
19. The Controversial PATRIOT Act
20. Bloggers’ Code of Ethics
21. A Prostitute on Page 12
22. Dead Body Photo
23. Is That an Ad? Are You Sure?
24. DTC Advertising: Prescription Drugs as Consumer Products?
25. Shopping to Save the World
26. How Did You Know That? Ethics of Behavioral Targeting
27. Making the Same Different: Branding28. Stereotyping Attitude
29. Everyone Know Her: The Unattainable Ideal
30. But She’s Only 4! The Hypersexualization of Young Girls
31. Real Beauty: Responsible Images?
32. Animal Rights: Responsible Images?
38. “. . . Perhaps the Absence of a Code of Ethics”?
39. Ethical Vision: What Does It Mean to Serve Clients Well?
40. Kids Are Getting Older Younger
41. A Woman’s Place Is . . .?
42. A Diverse Advertising Workplace: An Oxymoron?
44. Publicity and Justice 205
45. The Many Friends of the Candidate
46. Bundling Campaign Support
53. Indictments Indicate Corrupt Lobbying
54. Accelerating Recalls
56. Tragedy at the Mine
57. One for One: Helping Consumers Become Heroes
58. Promoting “Hope for Haiti Now”
59. Pepsi Challenged by Rumors
60. Swept Away in a Storm

HALLER’S CLASSROOM POLICIES

Earning a college degree is an endeavor that is preparing you for a future in a professional workplace. I expect you to display those qualities of professionalism in my classroom. Here are some policies and behaviors that I require you to follow:

• You will show respect to your fellow classmates and your professor. You will not belittle or laugh at others’ ideas or dominate discussions. The professor may eject you from class for any inappropriate or disruptive behavior.

• You will not interrupt or disrupt the class. This means all cell phones will be turned off during class and NO TEXTING! If you eat or drink during class, you will do so quietly and will always clean up after yourself by throwing away your trash. Leaving class to get food or beverage is a disruption. Only the restroom or an illness is an acceptable reason to leave the class. If you have a legitimate reason for leaving class early, please tell your professor before class and sit near the door.

• You will be counted absent if you are more than 15 minutes late for class. You will be counted absent if you sleep in class, or leave class and don’t return.

• You are allowed only 3 unexcused absences. After that, you must bring in documentation, i.e. a signed doctor’s note or a signed health center note. However, please DO NOT attend class if you are contagious; we do not want your illness. In the case of car or traffic-related absences, you must bring a car repair bill or towing bill. (Not being able to find a place to park on Towson’s campus is NOT an excused absence.) In the case of a death-related absence, please call or email before you attend the funeral and give me the name of the deceased. The key to an excused absence is proper documentation.

• Any UMS-recognized religious holiday is an excused absence, and the work missed can be made up. However, please inform your professor that you will be out of class and arrange to get the make-up work. Do not sign up for a presentation date if you know you will be out of class that day. Please obtain any missed notes from a fellow classmate.

• Work-related or internship-related absences are NOT excused. Do not sign up for a class that conflicts with your work/internship schedule, or if you do not have the free time to complete required outside-class assignments.

• It is your responsibility to make up any missed work due to an absence. Please get to know your classmates and ask them first. The professor will discuss make-up work before or after class or during office hours, not during class time.

• You, not the professor, are responsible for your grade. If you do not complete an assignment, you will receive a zero.

• Do not attend class if you have been drinking or taking illegal drugs. If you do so, the campus police will be called and you will be asked to leave class.

• Never lie, cheat, plagiarize, or fabricate. A mature person asks for help, rather than taking these unethical “shortcuts.” If your professor cannot give you the help you need, then she will refer you to the numerous on-campus resources, such as tutoring services or the Writing Center. If the class is still too difficult for you, become self-aware enough to understand when or if you should drop or withdraw from the class. There is no shame in withdrawing from a class and taking it another semester.

• Respect yourself enough to try your best, and the professor will respect you, too.

Liability Statement
“In all assignments, students must comply with all laws and legal rights of others (e.g., copyright, obscenity, privacy and defamation) and with all Towson policies (e.g. academic dishonesty). Towson University is not liable or responsible for the content of any student assignments, regardless of where they are posted.”

————————————————————————————–
TOWSON UNIVERSITY
College of Fine Arts and Communication
Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
Towson, MD 21252
410-704-3431

M E M O R A N D U M
TO: All Students in the Department Of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
FROM: Department Faculty
SUBJECT: PLAGIARISM AND CHEATING

Plagiarism
The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies adheres to the following policy regarding plagiarism:
1. Any words or images taken directly from another source (including the Internet) must be footnoted or cited and in quotation marks. Similarly, in oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
2. Any ideas derived from a source not in the public domain or of general knowledge must be clearly attributed.
3. Any paraphrased material must be footnoted or cited. In oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
4. All papers and presentations must be the student’s own work. Submission of papers or presentations authored by others, even with their consent, constitutes plagiarism.
Any student found plagiarizing in any of the above ways will receive an automatic “F” for the assignment and may receive an “F” for the course. Documented evidence of the plagiarism will be kept in the department office, and will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Any student discovered soliciting others to write a paper, speech, test, or other assignment for that student will receive an automatic “F” for the course.

There are ambiguities in concepts of plagiarism. Faculty will be available for consultation regarding any confusion a student may have.

Most students are careful to avoid blatant plagiarism, the unacknowledged copying of exact words of the source. However, students must also be aware that the concept of plagiarism extends not only to wording but to patterns or sequences of ideas. If you paraphrase without acknowledgement, using the same sequence or structure as the original author, then you are plagiarizing.

Students have the right to appeal a charge of plagiarism. An appeal starts with the chairperson of the department.

Cheating
The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies has adopted the following policy regarding cheating: ANY STUDENT CAUGHT CHEATING ON ANY QUIZ OR EXAM WILL RECEIVE A MINIMUM OF AN “F” ON THE QUIZ OR TEST AND A MAXIMUM OF AN “F” FOR THE COURSE.

Revised 1-11-05

——————————————————————

Civility Code Introduction
Revised (approved by COFAC College Council 11/8/2011)

All College of Fine Arts & Communication Studies students, staff, and faculty are committed to collegial and academic citizenship demonstrating high standards of humane, ethical, professional, and civil behavior in all interactions.

We must take responsibility for the relationship between our personal conduct and the quality of campus life. What we do and say always has an effect on others, whether we see it or not. Civility means more than respecting campus facilities and grounds. Civility means consistently treating people with consideration and respect. It means being courteous, polite, and fair. It means recognizing diversity and honoring differing points of view. When our behavior is guided by concern for others in our community, we are being civil. Practicing civility requires thoughtful behavior and checking our assumptions and perceptions of others’ race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, abilities, culture, belief systems and economic status.

Civility Code
COFAC places a priority on learning. We value the inherent worth and dignity of every person, thereby fostering a community of mutual respect. Students have the right to a learning environment free of disruptive behaviors. Faculty have the right to define appropriate behavioral expectations in the classroom and expect students to abide by them. Faculty have the responsibility to manage and address classroom disruption. Staff have the right and responsibility to define appropriate behaviors necessary to conduct any university activity free of disruption or obstruction.

We believe that in order to achieve these ideals, all COFAC students, staff, and faculty are expected to exhibit and practice civil behaviors that exemplify: (1) respecting faculty, staff, fellow students, guests, and all university property, policies, rules and regulations; (2) taking responsibility for one’s choices, actions and comments; (3) delivering correspondence – whether verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic – with respectful language using professional writing standards and etiquette; and (4) accepting consequences of one’s choices and actions.

The use of threatening or abusive language, writing, or behavior will not be tolerated and can lead to academic dismissal. Further information about civility can be found in Appendix F of the university catalog.

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