2014 - Spring

Journalism Ethics and First Amendment Law

Course Number: JOUR-UA 502.002

Day & Time: W 6:20pm-8:50pm

Location: Silver 208

Instructor: David A. Kaplan


Prerequisites: Foundations

This course is designed to acquaint students with the basic protections and restrictions of the law as they apply to the media, as well as the ethical problems and dilemmas journalists face. First Amendment rights and legal and ethical responsibilities and limitations will be examined and discussed. The course will look at these questions from five viewpoints: from (i) the practical view of a journalist doing his job with (ii) heavy consideration of ethical imperatives, and (iii) from a legal prospective, all the while (iv) considering the rules in a public policy context- are they fair and appropriate in our society? — while (v) noting the historical context in which they arise. Significant court cases and fundamental legal rules as well as past ethical scandals and issues will be explored in the context of political and historical realities, and in terms of journalistic standards and practices; contemporary media law issues and ethical problems and guidelines will also be focused on. Among the basic First Amendment issues which will be examined are libel, invasion of privacy, prior restraints, newsgathering and newsgathering torts, and the reporter’s privilege; some of the ethical issues to be explored include objectivity in reporting, bias and transparency, conflicts of interest, and fair dealings with subjects, sources and advertisers.