module specification

SJ5033 - Media Law and Ethics; Public Administration (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Media Law and Ethics; Public Administration
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
 
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   2000 word portfolio: current reporting on public administration. Multimedia piece optional
Coursework 25%   2000 word portfolio: legal matters as displayed in recent cases. To include 1 minute piece to camera about court case
In-Course Test 20%   In-class test on legal knowledge: 70%on legal matters, 30% on media regulation
Coursework 25%   2000 word essay on an ethical issue for journalists
Practical Examination 10%   Engagement with class, assessed by online journal and moderated by tutor
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module covers what student journalists need to know about how Britain works and the place of journalism within debates about ethics and the legal system.
Classes will look at the ethical and judicial frameworks and constraints which control the reporting of legal matters, including crime and its contexts.  Students will explore these subjects from the industry viewpoint, learning how to find and develop stories within the social and political landscape of Britain today.
Within public adminstration, classes will survey: national systems of government and representation; local government; citizen remedies and freedom of information; foreign policy, the EU and defence; social services and education; health; the judicial system (civil) and human rights; ermegency services; the criminal justice system, including police; finance and the stock exchange.

At the heart of this course is the study of ethics.  How journalists ought to behave – and what we can learn from those who do not behave properly – is particularly important to the profession. The public relies on the profession to give information. How should journalists get that information and how convey it?
Ethics gives a deeper meaning to the study of the legal system for journalists. Classes will locate the law which journalists need to know, both civil and criminal, within a broader ethical framework in today’s multi-platform, multi-national world. Analysis of current cases and case law will be as important as knowledge of existing frameworks and codes.

Field trips to magistrate’s courts and local authority meetings will be key to personal experience and understanding, as will guest speakers.
Discussion, research, screenings and visits will all play a part in developing students’ critical thinking skills and the professional skill of accurate, legally acceptable writing.

The module will be assessed by two portfolios (one of which includes multi media), an essay, and an online journal moderated by tutors at the end of the year.
 

Module aims

The main aims of this module are:

  • To provide the opportunity for students to amass and codify key knowledge about British social and political institutions as background for news stories;
  • To develop students’ understanding of historical, political, economic, cultural and social factors that shape the present news agenda;
  • To develop in students the ability to incorporate background context in their news writing in a concise manner that enhances understanding and interest;
  • To investigate the origins and consequences of ethical frameworks;
  • To study the place of ethics in journalism, including: confidentiality, anonymity and protection of sources; truth, deception and integrity; principles of democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of information; human rights; secret/covert filming; investigative journalism; celebrity, private lives and public interest; conflicts of interest.    
  • To study law as it applies to journalists, including: libel, slander and defamation; copyright/intellectual property law; obscenity; privacy; protection of minors; court reporting restrictions; the Official Secrets Act; Race Relations legislation; the European Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.
  • To analyse the workings of the judicial system from Magistrates’ Courts to the High Court.    
  • To critically evaluate the role of industry regulators in relation to print and broadcast journalism.
  • To enable students to report in a fair, balanced and accurate manner on court cases, using print and other media.

Syllabus

The course will introduce key aspects of UK public affairs.  Each week, students explore stories which uncover the work of different institutions and research them in and out of class. Each week will centre on action research, where students analyse a topical piece of journalism to discover what knowledge and which sources were used to create an effective piece of writing. 
Public adminstration subjects will include: national systems of government and representation; local government; foreign policy, the EU and defence;  the emergency services; social services and education; health; finance and the stock exchange. 
Learning how British society fits together provides a context for understanding the law, particularly as it applies to journalists. As students dissect the workings of the judicial system (civil) and human rights and the criminal justice system, including the functioning of police, they gain an understanding of how stories are shaped and develop -- as well as discovering how to find and substantiate them.
Students will become familiar with the workings of the whole legal system from Magistrates’ Courts to the Supreme Court.    
They investigate the origins and consequences of ethical frameworks, historically and in the present day.  Exploring the relationship between ethical principles and legal codes and procedures will include such subjects as: confidentiality, anonymity and protection of sources; truth, deception and integrity; principles of democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of information; human rights; secret/covert filming; investigative journalism; celebrity, private lives and public interest; conflicts of interest.    
They survey the current legal system as it applies to journalists, including: libel, slander and defamation; copyright/intellectual property law; obscenity; privacy; protection of minors; court reporting restrictions; the Official Secrets Act; Race Relations legislation; the Human Rights Act.
Such knowledge will enable students critically to evaluate the role of industry regulators in relation to print and broadcast journalism. Written work will show evidence of critical awareness and the need to evaluate evidence with regard to sources.
In enhancement and news weeks, through screenings, visits and guest speakers, they will gain personal experience which will deepen their understandings.
Finally, through writing on these theories and histories, they will sharpen writing and presentation skills through reflecting on feedback from staff and other students. Such written work will help demonstrate employability for the PDP.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching strategy will be based on an interactive model.
For most of the 30 teaching weeks, a two-hourly session will require students to listen, to write and to speak, to work with each other and individually. They will also need to take notes, present independent research and ideas and contest information presented by staff.
In enhancement and news weeks, field trips, guest speakers and screenings will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions. The magistrates’ court and Crown Court visits, as well as visits to local council meetings, are a key part of this course.
Feedback will be given one-to-one in class and electronically. Electronic resources, including the university’s virtual environment, will be used by students and staff.
In developing employability, accuracy and understanding of legal matters are highlighted. However, social skills, of listening, debate and presentation, are also important in the profession of journalism and these will be supported by the teaching and learning strategy.
The module will be supported by a VLE site containing notes, readings and extended bibliographies, and weblinks.
Opportunities for creating PDP will be fully supported.

Learning outcomes

If students read all the required texts, participate in all the class activities and complete the required assessments and assignments, they will develop transferable skills, usable in the workplace and as citizens. They should be able to:

  1. Write knowledgeably about key British institutions, taking into account their histories and current contexts;
  2. Use political, social, economic and cultural factors to add context to stories, without losing a reader’s interest.
  3. Develop the ability to research independently in varied fields of journalism;
  4. Communicate the basic concepts of ethics and their application to media practice;
  5. Write copy that is legally watertight, with regard to statute and case law;
  6. Produce multi- media output that is legally sound;
  7. Answer questions about the judicial system;
  8. Demonstrate through examples how media and journalists are situated within the legal system;
  9. Analyse and argue about live ethical and professional issues in journalism today.

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment will comprise short weekly written exercises both creative and critical, and feedback on oral contributions to seminars and workshops. Tutorials will offer formative assessment on drafts for portfolios.

A formative assessment set in week 2 will be handed in in week 5 and returned in week 5.
Summative assessment will comprise: two portfolios demonstrating knowledge of current practice in the fields of journalism, law and public affairs. A final essay on a current issue and a test on legal knowledge.

Students will keep a journal to reflect on their learning journey. This will be moderated by tutors at the end of the year

All work will be marked individually.
Assessment 1 will assess LO 1 and 2
Assessment 2 will assess LO 3,4,5,6,8
Assessment 3 will assess LO 4,5,7,8
Assessments 4 and 5 will assess all LOs
 

Bibliography

Banks, David and Hanna, Mark (2016) McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [CORE]
Bainbridge, T (2012) The Penguin Companion to the European Union London: Penguin
Brooke, H (2010) The Silent State: Cornerstone
Curran, James and Seaton, Jean (2003) Power without responsibility. London: Routledge
Davies, N (2014) Hack Attack, How The Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch (Chatto and Windus
Donnelly, J. (2002) Bogdanor, V, The New British Constitution, Hart Publishing, 2009.
El-Gingihy, Y (2015). How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 easy Steps, John Hunt
Harding, L (2014) .The Snowden Files: Vintage
Harcup, T (2007). The Ethical Journalist, Sage [CORE]
Jones, E, Menon, A and Weatherill, S (2012). The Oxford Handbook of the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Marquand, D (2014). Mammon's Kingdom, Penguin
Monbiot, G (2000) Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, Macmillan
Universal Human Rights. Cornell
Frost, Chris (2007). Journalism, Ethics and Regulation. London: Longman [CORE]
Keeble, Richard (2001) Ethics For Journalists. London: Routledge
Leigh, D & Harding,L (2011) Wikileaks, Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. London: Guardian
Lloyd, John (2004) What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics. London: Constable.
Morrison, J. (2015) Public Affairs for Journalists. NCTJ [CORE]
Morrison David E. & Howard Tumber (1988) Journalists At War. London: Sage
Moore, Roy and Murray, Michael (2012) Media Law and Ethics: Routledge
Quinn, F (2015) Law for Journalists, Pearson.
Watson, Tom and Hickman, Martin (2012) Dial M for Murdoch: Allen Lane
Whyte, D, (2015). How Corrupt is Britain? Pluto
Wilson, D and Game, C, (2011) Local Government in the United Kingdom. London: Palgrave MacMillan,
Winnet, Robert and Raynor, Gordon (2009) No Expenses Spared: Bantam
Wrigley, C, (2015). British Trade Unions since 1933, Cambridge: Cambridge  University Press

Websites
www.nccl.org.uk
www.parliament.uk
mediastandardstrust.org/
www.legislation.gov.uk