Note: A complete outline and reference page need to be submitted to your tutor two weeks prior to submitting the essay.
Value: 40% of final grade
Length: 12 pages (approximately 3200-3500 words)
Format: Present your research in the form of an academic research paper with a clear thesis statement, research questions or objectives, review of related literature and other evidence, and an analytical conclusion that supports your evidence in answering the research question(s).
Criteria: Cite all sources used within the paper and provide a complete reference list at the end of the paper, using a standard academic style such as MLA or APA. Please consult this Manual’s guide to writing papers for more information.
Use both primary and secondary sources in your research. Primary sources are works produced by government departments such as policy statements, acts, discussion documents, annual reports and departmental web site information. Newspapers and magazines, as well as web sites of news organizations such as CBC and BBC, are also good sources. You should also use at least five secondary sources: critical peer-reviewed academic papers and texts. You may include course readings, but use at least four outside sources as well.
Topic: Choose one of the following (A or B) as the topic for your research paper.
A. History, Public Information, Manipulation, Propaganda
The late Washington Post publisher Phil Graham referred to journalism as a “first rough draft of history.” Many journalists like to think they are producing public information of vital importance for citizens. But journalists and their media organizations sometimes use the ideal of public information as a rhetorical justification for manipulation and propaganda (whether commercial or political).
Write a research paper describing the interplay of freedom and responsibility in news production (providing examples). Your paper should:
Consider the circumstances under which reporters may agree or disagree on facts
Consider the circumstances that make it acceptable (or not) for governments or media organizations themselves to place limits on freedom of speech
Discuss the distinctions between truth and truthfulness
Consider whether it is normal/abnormal that journalists report from a particular “point of view”
As well, based on the readings thus far in this course, differentiate between journalism, public information, manipulative discourse (with your own definitions), and propaganda and suggest solutions for journalists who want to work free of propaganda and censorship.
B. The Theory and Practice of Codes and Standards
Choose three journalistic codes of ethics from Canada, the United States, Europe and/or the Middle East. Ensure at least one of your choices is from a newspaper code and at least one is from broadcasting, so that you can highlight similarities and differences. Critique several examples of reporting by media organizations that have stated their support for these codes of ethics. Critically examine two different media (newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, or the Internet) to distinguish between their specific cultures, technological constraints, and possibilities. Examine the specific ethical challenges posed by each medium. Critically examine how news organizations are regulated by external organizations and how they regulate themselves. If you write about new media such as the Internet (on-line editions of news media, blogs, etc.), consider whether they are opening the way for a more interactive kind of journalism, and whether such innovative practices could make journalism more accountable, responsible, and ethical, or whether they could have the opposite effect.
Consider these questions when writing your research paper:
What are the key ethical issues raised by journalism as public information, as manipulative discourse, and as propaganda?
Is there a gap between the theory and practice of codes and standard? If so, do you consider the gap normal or abnormal?
How has the broader social, political, and economic environment shaped professional standards for journalists and their media organizations?
What are the outstanding or future issues for ethical journalism that still need to be addressed by individual journalists and their media organizations?
When grading assignments, your tutor will take into account grammar, spelling, clarity of ideas, and effective use of vocabulary. As well, correct and thorough citation of sources is expected.
NOTE: Please take into account the time required for marking and feedback. Your tutor is allowed up to five business days to correct and return your work. Keeping to this service standard can become difficult for tutors when students submit all their assignments together at the end of the course. (May is a particularly hectic month). In such instances, tutors are still allowed up to five days each to mark the assignments.
Avoid frustration by pacing your submissions throughout the course. If you need your marks for transfer to another institution by a specific date, let your tutor know and then give you tutor enough time to mark your assignments.
Keep in mind that your tutor may be marking papers for dozens of students at once, each of whom may have special circumstances. Early communication with your tutor is always a good idea.