Dowling College Spring 2016 Professor Perring

Media Ethics MW     01:00 pm-02:21 pm


24876 PHL 2100C                  

24877 MED 2100C


Course Description

Students will learn about the moral issues facing media professionals and consumers of media. The media studied will be broadly defined, including news journalism, entertainment, advertising, new media, interactive media, films, and TV.  Students will learn a variety of moral principles and approaches, and will use these as they practice the skills of both analyzing particular cases and addressing larger social issues.


Journalism and news media is a major part of media ethics. During the semester all students will need to follow some quality news sources. These will include the New York Times, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, BBC News, PBS News, or NPR News. Students will need to compare these with other news sources, such as various cable news shows, internet news sources and network TV.


At the same time, we will also want to cover other parts of the media which have a substantial impact on students' lives: movies, internet media, social media, phone apps, and massive multiplayer games. Students will have some choice about what they focus on.


Learning Goals:

Students will be able to

-       Understand and explain moral principles as they apply to the media.

-       Identify moral problems arising in the media.

-       Discuss controversies and explain how to resolve moral dilemmas facing media professionals.

-       Construct their own arguments to justify their views concerning media morality.


Grade Breakdown

Participation (in-class and/or online):            20%

Presentation:                                                   10%

Assigned case analyses                                   20%

Original case analysis                                     20%

Midterm                                                          15%

Final                                                                15%


Required Textbook

MEDIA ETHICS | Edition: 2ND 2014


ISBN: 9781452258089

Available for purchase and rental (hardcopy or Kindle) at and as an ebook at VitalSource.



Useful books:

1.         George Brock. Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age. Kogan Page, 2013.

2.         Bruce E. Drushel and Kathleen German (Editors).The Ethics of Emerging Media: Information, Social Norms, and New Media Technology. Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.

3.         Helena Grehan. Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Global Age. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

4.         Carrie James. Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. MIT Press, 2014.

5.         Lawrence Lessig. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. Penguin 2005.

6.         Kelly McBride. Tom Rosentiel. The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century.  CQ Press, 2013

7.         Christopher Myers. Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach. Oxford University Press 2010.

8.         Thomas E. Patterson. Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism. Vintage, 2013.

9.         Lee Anne Peck and Guy S Reel. Media Ethics at Work: True Stories from Young Professionals. CQ Press, 2012.

10.       Andrew Pettegree. The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself. Yale University Press, 2014.

11.       Patrick Lee Plaisance. Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice. SAGE Publications, 2008.

12.       Neil Postman. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Penguin 1985.

13.       Mitchell Stephens. Beyond News: The Future of Journalism. Columbia University Press, 2014

14.       Nikki Usher. Making News at The New York Times. University of Michigan Press, 2014.

15.       Lee Wilkins and Clifford G. Christians (Editors).The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics. Routledge, 2008.

16.       Wendy N. Wyatt and Kristie Bunton (Editors). The Ethics of Reality TV: A Philosophical Examination. Bloomsbury Academic, 2012.



Final Deadline for all work: Wednesday May 11


No class Mon Feb 15 Presidents Day

No class 21-27 March Spring Break





Mon Feb 1



Wed 3

1. Ethics Theory: An Overview






2. Key Frameworks


Wed 17



Mon 22

3. Ethics Theory: Application to Media


Wed 24



Mon 29

4. Technology

First assigned case analysis

Wed March 2



Mon March 7

5. Transparency



W 9





Midterm exam


6. Justice






7. Harm


Mon Apr 4


Second assigned case analysis

Wed 6

8. Autonomy






9. Privacy






10. Community




Original case analysis


11. Conclusion


Mon May 2



Wed May 4