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The difference between law and ethics


Students will evaluate the differences between journalism law and ethics using other professions as a starting point. Students will define ethics and examine the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.


  • Students learn the importance of journalism ethics.
  • Students will understand the difference between law and ethics.
  • Students will evaluate examples and state whether the are in the law or ethics category.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).


50 minutes


Slideshow: Law vs. ethics

Lesson step-by-step

1. Slideshow — 45 minutes

Teacher should go through the slideshow. Time allotments are in the teacher notes section of the slideshow.

2. Quiz — 5 minutes

Students will take a quiz (using notes) to reinforce the difference between law and ethics.

The quiz can be found at the end of the slideshow.