Activities

Chapter 2 exercises in the textbook include the following range:

 

  • Identifying stakeholders

  • Solving a case of conflict of interest, or the appearance of conflict of interest

  • Assessing the accuracy and humaneness of a quote

  • Applying the ethical framework to two case studies

  • Asking a professional journalist to describe an ethical dilemma she or he has faced

  • Listening for cautionary tales in a newscast

 

The additional exercises in the Interactive Workbook apply the ideas of internal and external goods and specific principles from the framework.

 

1.  Internal/external goods (Exercise W2-1 in Interactive Workbook is a corresponding assignment.) 

 

a.  Ask students to identify a practice that they are part of where internal goods are the focus.  Past students have identified a sport or musical instrument they play, a game like poker or Scrabble, agriculture, and cooking, for example.

 

Ask students what internal goods would teach a newcomer first and why?  What would an external good in the practice be?  What would the student think of someone who was focused only on external goods? 

 

b. Ask students to identify a practice that they joined as a newbie.  Were internal goods the focus?  What internal goods did they learn first?  What do they remember about the early experience about joining a new practice?

 

2.  Applying the ethical principles 

 

a.  Focus on one principle (although others will likely come up) and one element of a story.

 

This story from the Chicago CBS affiliate is about actress Kim Novak’s appearance on the 2014 Academy Awards show.  It includes tweets critical of her appearance, as well as a supportive tweet and some additional contextual information about Novak.  Ask students about the humaneness of writing a story like this.  Or ask them to apply the principle of truth telling: all of this did happen.  Should reporters just ignore it?

 

If applicable, discuss with students how the conclusions they reach this way differ from the personal reactions they may have had before the activity.  Point out the possibility that their decisions as professionals may differ from their audience members’ personal reactions.

 

You can also use online exercises W2-2 through W2-4, and textbook exercises 2-2 and 2-3 for this activity.

 

b.  Apply the five principles to come to a reasoned decision based on stronger or weaker evidence and systematic analysis. 

 

This New York Post article followed the Isla Vista, California, stabbings and shootings in May 2014, in which they publish the name and photos of a woman the shooter named in his “manifesto.”  It also includes an interview with the woman’s father.  This Guardian piece discusses the response by critics of the coverage.

 

Ask students to serve as an editorial board, checking off yes or no, for each principle as it impacts each question for the ethical dilemma.  For instance, for the problem of whether to publish Edwards’ statement, students decide whether it fulfills the principle of justice, then whether it fulfills the principle of truth telling, and so on.  A checklist could help keep track of their individual and group responses, and can be used to reach a final decision.   

 

Asking the class to make an actual decision based on reason rather than their personal or initial feelings can take some time, but it does illustrate that in real life, ethical dilemmas need to be solved.  Some possible come-to-a-decision strategies:  build consensus through compromise; privilege one or two principles above the others; majority rules; seniority rules.

 

If applicable, discuss with students how the conclusions they reach this way differ from the personal reactions they may have had before the activity.  Point out the possibility that their decisions as professionals may differ from their audience members’ personal reactions.

 

For this activity, you can also use textbook Exercises 2-4 and 2-5, the complete Sutherland example in Chapter 2 or the photo case study in Chapter 15.

Instructors:
Chapter 2
 

HOW DO ETHICS AND CRITICAL THINKING APPLY TO EVERYDAY REPORTING?

 

Activities

Test questions & PDF

SYNOPSIS

 

This chapter introduces students to the ethical principles—justice, stewardship, freedom, humaneness and truth telling—to use as they think through how to most ethically report their stories.  It also introduces internal and external goods, stakeholders, transparency and conflict of interest.  A case study at the end of the chapter asks students to apply the principles, and it guides students through the decision-making process to help them arrive at a course of action that is ethically justifiable. 

ETHICS ONLINE

 

You can have groups of students build their own ethics codes:  The Online News Association is working on a site to help organizations and individuals to do just that.  You might use the website as a class activity to engage students in thinking through ethics codes, whether they're helpful, and how to apply them.

 

Ethics case studies can be another engaging way to practice making thoughtful decisions.  Below are three websites that include case studies.

 

The Society of Professional Journalists provides a good list of ethical case studies with some interesting diversity.

 

Indiana University's case studies are a bit old, but many are still relevant (and there are lots of them).

 

Columbia University charges for its case studies, but you can check out the abstracts to see if any seem especially helpful for your class.