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Ethics of Mass Media

Ethics of Mass Media

Ethics of Mass Media is a discussion-based class that invites students to explore and debate a variety of ethical dilemmas.  

E-Media Division Head Marjorie Fox, taught Ethics for almost twenty years.  “It was exciting because we discussed all of the media developments in that period,” Professor Fox said.

Ethics of Mass Media remains relevant by focusing on recent events and media trends.  The class has been required for many years, but the content changes as fast as the media.

In the 90's, Professor Fox challenged students to think critically about the ethics of Napster or the news coverage of O.J. Simpson.  Nearly twenty years later, the current class turns a critical eye towards Facebook and targeted advertising.  

“There is never a shortage of material to discuss in media ethics,” Professor Fox said.

The course guides students in developing their own ethical compass, training them to think critically about the impact of their choices.  The latest media material is coupled with classic ethical theories like Aristotle’s Golden Mean and Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

The current instructor of ethics,  assistant professor Jane Friedman said, “I love teaching this class because I believe in the value and importance of helping people understand that it is possible to learn to be more ethical.”

She stressed that media professionals must make ethical decisions without relying on “gut feelings” or legal regulations.  “What's lawful isn't the same as what's ethical,” she said.

The ethical dilemmas posed in class are challenging.  E-Media senior Danny Santoro described the sometimes heated discussions as, “interesting and infuriating at the same time.”

Ethics of Mass Media challenges students to think about the impact of their work and the place of media in the world.

“It's a class that explores media beyond aesthetics and technical aspects,” said senior Michael Abitz.

Ethics of Mass Media is a required course for E-Media majors.  It will be offered after the semester conversion under the name Issues and Ethics.


By Ellen Brock, November 2011