module specification

SJ5033S - Media law and ethics; public administration part 2 (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
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
 
60 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
90 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 35%   2000 word portfolio: legal matters as displayed in recent cases
Coursework 45%   2500 word essay on an ethical issue for journalists
Coursework 20%   Engagement with class, assessed by self-assessed grid and moderated by tutor
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester 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.
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.

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 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.

Syllabus

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.
 

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:

  • 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.

Assessment strategy

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.
 

Bibliography

Banks, David and Hanna, Mark (2009) McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bell, Allan. (1991) The language of news media.  Oxford : Basil Blackwell
Belsey, Andrew (1992 ed.).  Ethical issues in journalism and the media. London : Routledge.
Berry, David (2000) Ethics And Media Culture. Oxford: Focal Press
Branston, Gill and Stafford, Roy (2006). The Media Student’s Book .
Carey, Peter (1999) Media Law. London; Sweet & Maxwell
Clapham, A. (2007) Human Rights, A very short introduction. Oxford.
Copperfield, D.  (2006) Wasting Police Time. Monday Books.
Crone, Tom (2002) Law And The Media. Oxford: Focal Press
Curran, James and Seaton, Jean (2003) Power without responsibility. London: Routledge
Donnelly, J. (2002) Universal Human Rights. Cornell
Elkind, P. (2004) The Smartest Guys in the Room.  Penguin
Fenwick, H. (4th ed Routledge 2007). Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Frost, Chris (2007). Journalism, Ethics and Regulation. London: Longman
Keeble, Richard (2001) Ethics For Journalists. London: Routledge
King, A.  (2009) The British Constitution. Oxford.
Lloyd, John (2004) What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics. London: Constable.
Morrison, J. 2009 Public Affairs for Journalists. NCTJ
Morrison David E. & Howard Tumber (1988) Journalists At War. London: Sage
Pinder, John and Usherwood,S.  (2007) The European Union: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford.
Postman, N and Powers, S. (2008) How to watch TV News. Penguin
Sampson, Fraser (ed 2009) Blackstone's Police Operational Handbook. Police National Database.
Sanders, Karen (2003) Ethics And Journalism. London: Sage
Stoakes, C (2007)  All you Need to Know about the City. Longtail
Sparks, Colin (ed. 2000).Tabloid tales : global debates over media standards. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield.
Westbrook, David A. (2008) Between Citizen and State. Paradigm.
Wright, Tony. (2007) British Politics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford
www.nccl.org.uk
www.parliament.uk
mediastandardstrust.org/
www.legislation.gov.uk