SJ5033S - Media law and ethics; public administration part 2 (2023/24)
|Module specification||Module approved to run in 2023/24|
|Module title||Media law and ethics; public administration part 2|
|Module level||Intermediate (05)|
|Credit rating for module||15|
|School||School of Computing and Digital Media|
|Total study hours||150|
|Running in 2023/24(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)||
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.
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 courts 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 portfolio, an essay, and a self-assessed grid moderated by tutors.
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 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 Supreme Court.
- To critically evaluate the role of industry regulators in relation to print and broadcast journalism.
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. Students will work together to uncover background information for stories and present this as part of their oral contribution .
In enhancement 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 15 teaching weeks, a three-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 weeks, field trips, guest speakers and screenings will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions. Visits to courts 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.
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:
- Use local political, social, economic and cultural factors to add context to stories, without losing a reader’s interest.
- Develop the ability to research independently in varied fields of journalism;
- Communicate the basic concepts of ethics and their application to media practice;
- Write copy that is legally watertight, with regard to UK or English statute and case law;
- Answer questions about the judicial system;
- Demonstrate through examples how media and journalists are situated within the legal system;
- Analyse and argue about live ethical and professional issues in journalism today.
Formative assessment will comprise short weekly written exercises both creative and critical, and feedback on oral contributions to seminars and workshops. Tutorials and blogs will offer formative assessment on drafts for portfolios.
Summative assessment will comprise an essay and portfolio demonstrating knowledge of current practice in the fields of journalism, law and public affairs.
Moderation of self-assessed contribution in class will be through tutors.
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