Search our site
Search our site

Journalism in Context: Law, Ethics and the Industry

  • Module code: JO7002
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This year-long module aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory structure within which journalists operate. In recent decades, the industry has changed significantly as it adapts to the opportunities and challenges of the internet age. You will be invited to examine and debate the direction and future of journalism, thinking about everything from legal restrictions on reporting to fake news to the public's perception of journalists.

As well as counting towards your MA, this module leads to the NCTJ's Essential Law and Ethics exams.

Aims

  • To assess current trends within the journalism industry and the impact of digital communication on traditional models.
  •  To explore critically the wider role of the journalist in civil society, in leading and shaping as well as reflecting public opinion.
  •  To deepen students' understanding of the role and responsibilities of the contemporary journalist.
  •  To acquire a detailed knowledge of the legal framework within which professional journalists operate and an appreciation of procedures in criminal and civil justice systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

  • Engage critically in debates about the newspaper and magazine industries and the challenges facing working journalists.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of concepts such as a free press, public interest, freedom of information and the role of journalists in a democratic society.
  • Make informed judgements about the relative importance of commercial imperative and ethical responsibility.
  • Critically analyse the strengths and shortcomings of press regulation and industry codes  of practice as frameworks for ethical journalism.
  • Understand and work within the legal constraints applied to journalists and news organisations

Curriculum content

  • The journalism industry and the changing nature of journalism: The workings of the news industry and the challenges facing print media in a digital age; the magazine industry and its survival strategies; changing relationships between journalists, readers and sources; the impact of new media on mainstream journalism.
  • The law: The long arm of the law: practical application of the laws of libel, privacy and contempt of court;  the importance of operating within the law as a working journalist; the importance of codes of conduct for working journalists and moves towards regulatory reform; the online challenge to laws of libel, contempt and privacy.
  • Ethics: The foundations of ethics: the great ethicists and the relevance of their thought to journalists today; the ethical journalist: why bother with ethics?; striking a balance between commercial imperatives and ethical responsibility in the newsroom; challenges to a free press: conflicts of interest, concentration of ownership and covert censorship.

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, a strategy which will allow students both to acquire essential knowledge and understanding of a large body of subject matter and also to develop this understanding through class discussion and debate. Seminars will enable formative assessment through the use of class tests, case study discussion and critiques of book passages and articles.

The first week of semester 1 in the module will take the form of an immediate launch into journalism, covering four full days. This is designed to start students thinking quickly and journalistically and will be taught as a series of lectures and seminars by a range of guest speakers as well as journalism department tutors. The week will introduce students to important debates, issues and skills which they will be covering during the course of the year in this module and others. During this week, students will be expected to get to know each other and work together to produce assessed work. From week two students will have a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar. The first week of semester 2 will be kept free to allow students time to complete work placements.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching First week semester 1 lectures and seminars Semester 1 weeks 2-12: 2 hour lecture; 1 hour seminar Semester 2 weeks 2-12: 1 hour lecture; 1 hour seminar 20 hours 30 hours 20 hours Total: 70 hours
Guided independent study 230 hours
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to test students' ability to engage critically with complex material and demonstrate that they can construct a clear argument both orally and in writing. Critical engagement and ability to argue will be tested through a 3000-word essay.  The strategy is also designed to test students' ability to work in a team and to collaborate with immediate team members and other colleagues to a specified end. This will be tested by a group presentation in the first week and by the presentation/seminar facilitation assessment later in the module. Here students will be required to run an hour's seminar session, during which they will be expected to give a presentation and generate group discussion through appropriate tasks and activities. Overall, the strategy of the assessment is intended to enhance the communication and collaboration skills  necessary for a job in journalism. Formative assessment during the course of each semester will give students the opportunity to get feedback on their progress through class tests, written critiques of reading and discussions of case studies.

 Students may also take exams for the course's accrediting bodies.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Engage critically in debates about the newspaper and magazine industries and the challenges facing working journalists Summative: 3000 word essay; semester 1 week 1 group presentation; semester 2 presentation and seminar facilitation. Formative: class tests; case study discussion; critique
Demonstrate a critical understanding of concepts such as a free press, public interest, freedom of information and the role of journalists in a democratic society. Summative: 3000 word essay; semester 1 week 1 group presentation; semester 2 presentation and seminar facilitation. Formative: class tests; case study discussion; critique
Make informed judgements about the relative importance of commercial imperative and ethical responsibility Summative: 3000 word essay; semester 2 presentation and seminar facilitation. Formative: case study discussion; critique
Critically analyse the strengths and shortcomings of press regulation and industry codes of practice as frameworks for ethical journalism Summative: 3000 word essay;; semester 2 presentation and seminar facilitation. Formative: case study discussion; critique
Understand and analyse legal constraints applied to journalists and news organisations Summative: 3000 word essay Formative: class tests; case study discussion

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
PRC Presentation 20
PRC Presentation and seminar facilitation 30
CWK Essay 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Frost, Chris (2010)Journalism, Ethics and Regulation (3rd edition), Harlow: Longman

Hanna, Mark and Dodd, Mike (2012) Mc Nae's Essential Law for journalists (21st  edition), Oxford:  Oxford University Press

Bibliography recommended reading

Allan, Stuart (2010) News Culture (3rd edition) Open University Press
Conboy, Martin (2013) Journalism Studies London: Routledge
Curran, James and Seaton, Jean (2009) Power without responsibility 7th edition London: Routledge
McNair, Brian (2009) News and Journalism in the UK (fifth edition) London: Routledge
McNair, Brian (2006)  Cultural Chaos: Journalism, news and power in a globalised world  London:Routledge
Quinn, Frances (2011) Law for Journalists (3rd edition), London: Pearson
Zelizer, Barbie (2004) Taking journalism seriously London: Sage

 

Find a course

Course finder

>
Postgraduate study
Site menu