Search
Search Menu

Login

This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.


Lesson: When Journalists Err Ethically

Title

When Journalists Err Ethically

Description

Student research projects address an area of journalistic ethical misconduct

Summary

Students will research and find examples of unethical behavior. While researching, students will evaluate the sources they are using as well as the scenario of the ethical infraction. This lesson should benefit students later in the unit as they work to develop a code of ethics.

Students will present on these ethical infractions and explain their significance, cost to the profession and cost to the individual(s) who lapsed in judgment.

Objectives

  • Students will research using credible sites.
  • Students will evaluate the information they find on the internet.
  • Students will analyze the situation and see the end result effect.
  • Students will present the information they find to the class.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3a Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3d Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Skills P21 outcomes
Creativity and Innovation Think creatively
Creativity and Innovation Work creatively with others
Critical Thinking Solve problems
Communication and Collaboration Communicate clearly
Communication and Collaboration Collaborate with others
Information Literacy Use and manage information
Media Literacy Analyze media
ICT Apply technology effectively
Initiative and Self-Direction Manage goals and time
Initiative and Self-Direction Work independently

Length

200 minutes (four 50-minute classes)

Materials

Computers

Rubric: Ethics Rubric

Handout: Ethics Topics

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 2 minutes

Explain to the students that they will be finding examples of ethical issues in journalism. They will be creating a poster explaining the issue, the significance, the cost to the profession and cost to the individual(s) who exercised poor judgment.

2. Setting up groups — 5 minutes

Count students off (using numbers 1-14) so the groups are as even as possible. (The students will research 14 different ethical lapses.)

3. Assignment explanation — 5 minutes

Pass out the rubric and assignment sheet. Go through both. Remind students they must credit where they get their information.

4. Research — 38 minutes

Students should research their ethics category.

Day 2

1. Refocus, review — 5 minutes

Remind students they are finding examples of ethical issues in journalism. They should create their poster explaining the issue, the significance, the cost to the profession and cost to the individual(s) who exercised poor judgment. Remind them again to cite their information. Again refer to the rubric and assignment sheet.

2. Research — 45 minutes

Students should research their ethics category. Remind students to include visuals on their posters.

Days 3 and 4

1. Presentations — 50 minutes

Each small group should present their poster. When each group finishes, they should hang the poster up in the room (unless the teacher needs it to finish grading). This poster will serve as a reminder while students work on their Code of Ethics, which is a culminating project in this unit.

Teacher should grade the presentations as they occur.

Additional resources

Definition:

• An ethical lapse is a mistake or error in judgment that produces a harmful outcome. A lapse in ethics doesn’t show a complete lack of integrity, just an oversight or an ethical blind spot. Routinely producing harmful results is not considered a “lapse,” that’s just considered unethical. Ethical lapses can be large or small scale, kept private or publicized and be illegal or within the realm of the law but still immoral. In academia, the causes of these lapses (in a regularly ethical person) are sometimes called fallacies.

To read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_7755222_ethical-lapses.html#ixzz2n7l7J0EZ

An article by Christine Tatum, who was president of SPJ in 2006-07 when she wrote the column: SPJ, ethical lapses in the past year http://www.spj.org/rrr.asp?ref=77&t=ethics. [JEA has obtained permission to use this article, so you may choose to distribute it as a handout.]

Online resources:

• Indiana University resource: http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/ethics/

• The bad and the ugly: An examination of ethical lapses 0f the past year: http://www.spj.org/rrr.asp?ref=77&t=ethics

• Ethical lapses: http://ajrarchive.org/article.asp?id=574

• Are there ethical lapses in the Times story http://www.newstatesman.com/media/2013/06/are-there-ethical-lapses-times-story-williams-indian-ancestry

• US media still needs some work on its Africa tropes: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/12/10/toto_and_wimoweh_the_u_s_media_still_needs_some_work_on_its_africa_tropes.html?wpisrc=hpsponsoredd2

• Ethical case studies in modern era journalism: http://shelf1.library.cmu.edu/HSS/a1042985.pdf

• What is the ethics breach in this story? http://www.wtae.com/news/local/allegheny/JFK-s-connections-to-Pittsburgh/-/10927008/23115822/-/10rc3ns/-/index.html

• Does the NY Times reporter understand his paper’s ethics policy? http://gawker.com/does-the-n-y-times-star-tech-reporter-understand-its-1466714271

• Fake outdoor parade coverage: ethical lapse http://www.newscaststudio.com/2013/11/26/duluth-station-fakes-outdoor-parade-coverage