Photo of man carrying canoe.COMM 431, Communication Ethics


Please check this page often for announcements of upcoming tests, assignments, cancellations, or other material you'd probably like to know.

Monday, Jan. 16--Well, I'm here at school. Where is everybody else? You'd think it were a holiday or something. Anyway, this week's activities include beginning material on making ethical decisions. We'll also have an opportunity to present your findings comparing your chosen publication with the Hutchins Committee guidelines. That's due Tuesday. And we'll see a film excerpt on ethics and journalism.

Thursday, Jan. 19--Values exercise. Based on our class discussion Thursday:

  1. Discuss a value you hold. It may be freedom, equality, justice, respect for privacy, sanctity of life, requirement to always tell the truth, kindness to others, or another value.
  2. Where do you think your value came from, primarily? Parents, teachers, friends, reading, religion, other?
  3. How do your attitudes reflect this value? Think of attitude as a combination of:
  1. Have you ever had a difficulty with your value conflicting with other values in handling a particular ethical dilemma in your life? How did you deal with this conflict?

Hand in Tuesday (about a page and a half or two).

Monday, Jan. 23--This week we'll be continuing our discussion of challenges in making ethical decisions, and touching on ethical philosophies from the past. Thursday we'll consider a case study in ethics, based on a short film. The assignment above is due Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Monday, Jan. 30--This week we'll be discussing ethical issues from the film last week on the Oklahoma City bombing. We'll present the SAD formula for ethical decision-making. Yannick will also present a topic of his choosing. Don't forget: media ethics panel discussion with area professionals, 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Beckwith Recital Hall. Hand in reaction paper for 5 pts extra credit.

Monday, Feb. 6--This week we'll work through a couple media ethics cases using the "SAD" formula. One will be based on a short video Tuesday. Thursday we'll be considering the case in the news last week concerning riots over publishing caricatures of Mohammad in European newspapers.

Here is a collection of URLs relating to the Mohammad image controversy. Please read before Thursday's class.

Thursday, Feb. 9--Here is a reproduction of the actual notorious Muhammad caricatures.

Monday, Feb. 13--This week we'll be looking at an alternative, and more comprehensive, way to approach ethical decisions based on the Bivins ethics worksheet. We'll try a case study or two using this approach. We'll also talk a little more about codes of ethics.

Tuesday, Feb. 14--Reminder for Thursday: use Bivins worksheet to work through Mohammad publication ethics controversy, information above. Due Thursday.

Thursday, Feb. 16--Here are the notes and assignment from today's lecture, "lying."

Tuesday, Feb. 21--This week we'll finish our discussion of lying, and begin talking about privacy issues. Today we'll see a film, "Shattered Glass."

Thursday, Feb. 23--Here is the assignment for Tuesday. I guess I was a bit ambiguous about it; should you try to find ways to reassure an employer of your own integrity, or should you do it hypothetically, based on someone else? I guess I'd prefer you do it for yourself. So the two parts would be: from an employer's viewpoint, and from your own.

Monday, Feb. 27--Tomorrow we'll be reviewing for the midterm exam, which is Thursday. We'll also be discussing privacy issues. Next week we'll begin talking about the term paper assignment. Note: I have updated the midterm review page.

Monday, March 6--This Thursday we have a special feature! A guest panel will be in class to discuss the Haseltine child porn case. Appearing will be Deneen Gilmour, Najla Amundson and Mark Meister. Deneen spent 20 years working in print journalism in Fargo and Bismarck. Najla was co-anchor of WDAY news for about a decade. Mark, as many of you know, is an expert on ethics and media framing. To prepare, I have put on library reserve the newspaper articles covering the case. You also can view the last few articles on line, but (greedily) the Forum will force you to pay for anything more.

I was not able to get the Docutek system to post the articles in time, so they are in hard copy at the circulation desk. Here are the issues covered:

Note : More Forum articles on this subject were published before this date; these are the ones I saved.

Think of issues regarding privacy, placement of articles, discussion of others involved in the case (such as Haseltine's spouse). Najla will also talk about the issue as it relates to broadcast presentation, particularly radio talk shows.

Tuesday we'll go over the exam.

This class, by the way, will include a graded exercise, in case you think you want to begin your spring break two days early. (I'll buy the "take off Friday afternoon" excuse, but two days? Heck, I wouldn't be giving you your money's worth! :-) )

March 7--The library was able to put the reserve materials on the Docutek system. Password: Comm431.

Project note: I've updated the final project instructions on the class web site. I did leave the group option, but don't require it.

March 20--I hope you all had a relaxing spring break. This week we'll discuss "keeping secrets" (confidentiality), and perhaps money and responsibility. I hope to show a short video excerpt Thursday. I hope you all liked the panel discussion befor the break, and will let Najla, Deneen and Mark know you appreciated their taking time to meet with us. Note: if you haven't reviewed final project/term paper instructions, better do it soon!

March 27--This week we'll talk about issues of money and ethics. I also hope the video I ordered from ebay arrives, concerning ethics of privacy. I'll talk a little about the final paper on Tuesday--and I need to know your topic choice this week sometime, or early next week. You can let me know in class, or email.

March 28--Linked are several readings on the McClatchy/Knight Ridder media concentration case. Note that regional newspapers affected including those of Grand Forks, Duluth and St. Paul--all single-daily newspaper towns.

April 3--Tuesday we'll discuss issues of confidentiality and privacy as expressed in the film, "Absence of Malice." Thursday we'll wind up discussion of issues of money and corporate control of journalism.

April 9--We'll be finishing our discussion of stereotyping this week, and doing a short exercise on that topic. Thursday we'll begin talking about ethics and advertising. Don't forget: need your "capstone project" idea! Email, or tell me in class.

April 10--Stereotyping exercise due Thursday:

April 19--Sorry to be tardy in making this week's announcement. As most of you know, this week we finished the section on ethics and advertising, and began the section on ethics and obscenity. I had hoped to show a video excerpt on this topic Thursday, but can't seem to find a video store in town that carries it. I'll keep looking. I also hope everyone has started his or her final project by now!

April 23--This week we'll finish the section on obscenity and pornography, and consider ethics of the media and juvenile audiences.

May 1--Last week of class. This week we'll discuss ethics and popular culture issues. Thursday we'll review for the final exam. The final paper is due 5 p.m. Friday, May 5.

May 2--Here is the quote by Thoreau on media and popular culture:

I am sure that I have never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter--we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher, all "news," as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. --Henry David Thoreau, 1863

(Photo: Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota, 2001.)

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