Media Law & Ethics
The entirety of a media law and ethics course. Includes 8 quizes over the next 3 months. Weekly discussion posts and two responses to other posts. And 3 exams, all
Attached is the syllabus and course schedule. All due date times listed are Mountain Standard Time (MST). I will give my log in information when awarded so that you
can access all of the readings and lectures at your disgretion. I will expect that all discussions, quizes and exams be completed on time and an overall grade of a B
or better in order to receive payment.
This is very expansive “project” so please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
JRNL 3651 Section 581 Media Law and Ethics Spring 2018
Instructor: Elizabeth A. Skewes Office: Room 104B, Armory Phone: 303-735-1096 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office hours: Tuesdays, 10 to
11:30 a.m., and by appointment OVERVIEW This course is designed to introduce students to the two most important contributors to responsible media behavior:
law and ethics. If the theme of the course could be summed into one word, that word would be responsibility. Responsibility can be examined at various levels, from
the societal level (e.g. journalism���s responsibilities to an electorate) all the way down to the individual (your own responsibilities to your co-workers, your client,
your source, your partner, yourself, etc.). We will be covering the entire range of these levels of analysis. And, of course there is a special category of
responsibility: the legal rights and obligations of the media communicator. Virtually every aspect of media practice has both a legal and an ethical dimension. The
law tells us what we must (or must not) do; ethics suggests what we ought (or ought not) to do. Throughout human history, the law has managed to regulate a small
portion of human behavior; the rest is left to ethics. This distinction is particularly important in American society, because of the permanence and power of the
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Over the course of the 20th century, the federal courts consistently strengthened expressive rights ��� of both the news media
and individual citizens. As a result, communicators have acquired tremendous freedoms, especially compared to citizens and media in most other countries in the
world. Communicators have the legal freedom, for example, to express hatred and bigotry, to peddle obscenity, to advocate violence, to produce the most
sensationalistic ���news stories��� imaginable. But is it enough to assert a legal right as justification for that behavior Media law tells us where the courts and
statutes draw the line between acceptable media behavior and punishable media behavior. But where do we, as ethically responsible media practitioners, draw the lines
for ourselves and for our professions The interplay of legal requirement and ethical obligation is what makes this course important, and, I hope, fascinating. By
learning new principle-based methods of ethical and legal reasoning — and applying them systematically to contemporary issues — you should be able to grapple
with similar situations as you begin your own professional work — as a communicator, or simply as an adult human being. With this goal in mind, we will spend a great
deal of time discussing real-world situations that individuals encounter — either controversial decisions that communicators have made, or “hypothetical” dilemmas
that you will resolve as if you were the decision-maker. In the law, there is usually a ���correct��� answer, but again: The law covers only a small portion of media
behavior. The rest is up to ethics, and in ethics, there is no single “correct” answer to any of these problems. If I���m teaching this material well, you will be
able to develop your own personal style of moral reasoning that is based on the principles and logic that we read about and discuss. You will be evaluated not
according to how “ethical” or “moral” I think your analysis is, but according to how logically you apply moral principles and how well you support your analysis with
reasoning and well-researched evidence. It is this style of moral reasoning, in addition to your legal knowledge, that we hope you will take with you to your new
work, beyond your days at dear old CU. The course is organized around themes common in professionaol media work ��� and themes that directly involve both media law and
media ethics. Once we get a solid conceputal foundation in both law and ethics, we���ll tackle these themes: Freedom of Expression and Autonomy Freedom of Expression
and Social Responsibility Internet Regulation and Internet Ethics Justice Ethics and the Reporting of the Judicial Process Advertising and Persuasion Truth, Harm
and Libel Privacy Law and Privacy Ethics Transparency and Freedom of Information The Law and Ethics of Intellectual Property Never in media history has ethical
and legal practice been so important ��� and yet so greatly at risk. The congruent phenomena of economic and technological disruptions to the media industries have
resulted in a work force ��� those who digitally publish media content ��� that is not necessarily trained or even interested in law or ethics. In this class, we all need
to do our part to help counteract that trend. Therefore, the purposes of JRNL 3651 are to offer theoretical grounding to enhance your understanding of First
Amendment-based rights and your understanding of the ethical choices you have — and to offer the tools with which to make defensible decisions in professional
settings. LEARNING OBJECTIVES This course is designed to enable you to: * Apply moral theories to real-life situations in professional media practice, in order
to produce ethically sound solutions. * Apply legal principles and legal doctrine to real-life legal disputes in order to predict the most likely legal outcome. *
Understand and explain the differences and the synergies between ethical obligations and legal imperatives, in any problematic situation involving media practice.
* Comprehend original court opinions and original scholarly articles on ethics, and represent their main ideas and arguments to classmates. Additionally, as part
of the Journalism department���s ongoing commitment to national accreditation, this course satisfies two of the learning outcomes identified for assessment by our
field���s accrediting body, the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC): * Understand and apply the principles and laws of
freedom of speech and press, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances. * Demonstrate an
understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.
READINGS There are two required textbooks:
Trager, Robert, Joseph Russomanno, Susan Dente Ross and Amy Reynolds. The Law of Journalism and Mass Commumnication. 5th ed., 2015. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage/CQ
Press. Plaisance, Patrick L. Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice. 2nd ed., 2014. Los Angeles: Sage.
In addition, there are other readings and material for the course. All of this is posted on the class D2L site.
EXAMINATIONS There will be three examinations, none of them cumulative. The first is scheduled for Feb. 20, the second for April 6, and the third for May 5. Exams
will be open-book and open-notes, and will be taken on D2L. You will be able to find them under the ���Assessments/Quizzes��� tab on the site. You will have 24 hours in
which to take the exams, starting at 8 a.m. on the day listed on the syllabus and ending at 8 a.m. the next day. However, the exams are timed, so once you start the
exam, you will have only two hours to finish it. The exams will usually combine multiple choice questions with essay-length hypothetical or short essay questions.
Their content is not cumulative. Together, grades on the three exams will comprise 60 percent of your course grade. Examinations will cover material presented in
class as well as all required readings (textbook and other handouts). The purpose of the exam is to evaluate your understanding of the law and ethics, most often
through your ability to apply the legal and ethical principles to real-life problems in media work. There will be no make-ups for missed exams except under the most
extraordinary conditions. The reason must be documented, and I must be notified of your inability to take the exam IN ADVANCE, unless an extreme emergency prevents
your doing so.
QUIZZES There will also be nine short quizzes during the semester, just to make sure we’re all current on the readings and lectures, and understanding the basics.
They also will appear in D2L under the ���Assessments/Quizzes��� tab, and they also will be open-book and open-notes. They will usually take 30 minutes each. As with the
exams, you will have 24 hours in which to take each quiz, usually from 7 p.m. on the day they are posted until 7 p.m. the following day. All of the dates are listed in
the course schedule. Once you log in to start the quiz, you will have only 30 minutes to finish. The quizzes typically will consist of five multiple-choice
questions, usually followed by one short hypothetical essay question. The ���hypo��� on the quizzes will not be graded, but it is a chance for you to get feedback on how
to answers these questions since they are a significant portion of your exam grade. For your overall course grade, I will drop your lowest quiz grade from the
STUDENT PARTICIPATION Over the course of the term you are required to participate in weekly discussions by submitting comments or questions of substance to the
Discussions forum in the D2L website. By ���comment of substance,��� I mean a comment that (1) is actually relevant to the topic under discussion, (2) demonstrates your
understanding of the material under discussion or (3) makes a positive contribution to the conversation. By ���question of substance,��� I mean a question that (1) is
relevant to the topic under discussion and (2) probes beyond the basic information presented in the lectures or readings in order to reach a deeper level of
understanding of the subject under discussion. Each discussion topic will have a limited period of availability for comments and questions ��� usually only two weeks.
You will get a grade for each discussion once it closes, and I will drop your lowest discussion grade.
GRADING Your final grade in the course will be determined by these proportions:
Quizzes 25% First Exam 15% Second Exam 20% Third Exam 25% Participation 15%
ACADEMIC HONESTY Academic honesty is nowhere more important than in an ethics course! I expect you to do your own work, and when you use the words and ideas of
others, give credit where credit is due. If I find evidence of plagiarism (or other academic misconduct) on a draft of your paper or your final exam, you will receive
an automatic zero for the assignment. You may also receive an ���F��� for the course, or you may be expelled from the program, depending upon the severity of the
misconduct. For further information,
please consult the Student Honor Code at http://www.colorado.edu/academics/honorcode/.
DISABILITIES If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs
may be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact: 303-492-8671, or visit the new office in the Center for
Community (Room N200). The mailing address is N200 Center for Community, 107 CU-Boulder, Boulder CO 80309-0107.
RELIGIOUS OBLIGATIONS I will make every effort to reasonably and fairly deal with any students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled
duties. Please notify me at least one week before your anticipated absence, and we will devise a make-up plan. See the full details on the campus policy at
CLASSROOM DEPORTMENT There will be times when we must study issues and content that are offensive; this is how we explore the differences between what is legally or
ethically acceptable and what is unacceptable. There will be times when parts of the readings offend our sensibilities. I believe that in these instances,
intellectual duty must override personal distaste. However, none of this should affect our own duty to discuss these issues with a civil tongue. Students and faculty
each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. I have the professional responsibility to treat all students with understanding, dignity
and respect, to guide classroom discussion and to set reasonable limits on the manner in which you and I express opinions. Courtesy and sensitivity are important with
respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender variance and nationalities. In this
course, we will deal with all of these (plus a few other) sensitive areas. See the full campus policy at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/classbehavior.html and at
JRNL 3651, Sec. 581 Class schedule Spring 2017
Date Topic Readings Foundations Week 1: 1/23 and 1/26 The role of journalism in society Kovach & Rosenstiel (on D2L) The U.S. legal system Answering legal and ethics
hypotheticals Quiz #1 on the Syllabus (posted on Sunday, Jan. 29, on D2L at 7 p.m.) Trager, pp. 2-40 Week 2: 1/30 and 2/2 Moral foundations and ethics Plaisance, Chs.
1 & 2 The Potter Box and other useful tools Quiz #2 (posted Sunday, Feb. 5, on D2L at 7 p.m.) Plaisance, Ch. 3; Baker (on D2L) Freedom and Responsibility Week 3: 2/6
and 2/9 The First Amendment Trager, pp. 50-97 Prior restraint Flinn (on D2L)
Week 4: 2/13 and 2/16
The ethics of autonomy
Plaisance, Ch. 8
Community and social responsibility Quiz #3 (posted on Thursday, Feb. 16, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Plaisance, Ch. 10
Week 5: 2/20
FIRST EXAM (posted on Monday, Feb. 20, on D2L at 9 a.m.)
Digital Media Week 5: 2/23 Internet regulation
Packard (on D2L)
Week 6: 2/27
The ethics of digital technologies Quiz #4 (posted Tuesday, Feb. 28, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Plaisance, Ch. 4
Truth, Harm and Libel Week 6: 3/2 Truth, reality and objectivity Plaisance, Ch. 3; Cunningham (on D2L); Figdor (on D2L) Week 7: 3/6 and 3/9 Harm Plaisance, Ch. 7
Libel Trager, pp. 152-206
Week 8: 3/13
Libel defenses Quiz #5 (posted on Tuesday, March 14, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Trager, pp. 208-237
Persuasive Media Week 8: 3/16 The law and commercial speech Trager, pp. 600-638 Week 9: 3/20 and 3/22 Ethics in public relations Fitzpatrick & Gauthier (on D2L)
Advertising ethics Divinsky; Drumwright & Murphy (both on D2L) Week of 3/27 Spring break ��� enjoy! Week 10: 4/3 and 4/6 Sex and advertising Quiz #6 (posted on
Tuesday, April 4, on D2L at 7 p.m.) Celebre & Denton; Bahadur; Alter; Reichert (all on D2L) SECOND EXAM (posted Thursday, April 6, on D2L at 9 a.m.)
Privacy Week 11: 4/10 and 4/13 The ethics of privacy
Plaisance, Ch. 9; Gauthier (on D2L)
Privacy and the ethics of photojournalism
Wilkins & Coleman (on D2L); Junod (on D2L)
Week 12: 4/17
Privacy law Quiz #7 (posted Tuesday, April 18, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Trager, pp. 248-298
Information Access and Use Week 12: 4/20 Copyright, fair use and trademark law
Trager, pp. 542-596
Week 13: 4/24 and 4/27
Plaisance, Ch. 5
Open meetings and open records Quiz #8 (posted Thursday, April 27, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Colorado Press Association handout (on D2L)
Justice and the Judiciary Week 14: 5/1 and 5/4 The principle of justice
Plaisance, Ch. 6
Free press, fair trial Quiz #9 (posted on Thursday, April 4, on D2L at 7 p.m.)
Trager, pp. 398-448
5/5 THIRD EXAM (posted on Friday, May 5, on D2L by 9 a.m.)
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