JOUR 5301 Media Ethics

About the Course

This course is designed as an introduction to the general field of media ethics, with a more specific focus on journalism ethics. In it, we will examine some key issues confronting journalists and their audiences as well as those of advertisers, marketers, those in the entertainment media and public relations practitioners. As our media culture becomes increasingly pervasive and complex, it is critical that we understand how to conduct ethical deliberations and move beyond mere “gut reactions,” status quo defenses and simple claims of conscience. Those who come seeking a book of rules to guide their conduct as media workers will be disappointed here. This is a class that will deal largely with questions – clear-cut answers will be scarce.


The primary goal of this course is to help prepare you to grapple with the ethical dilemmas you will inevitably confront in your professional careers and private lives. There are other goals:

  • To develop a deeper understanding of the news media and of the many forces – political, social, economic and technological – that affect the way the media operate.
  • To develop a basic grasp of the principles and concepts used by key philosophers.
  • To develop a rational, systematic way of analyzing ethical problems.
  • To develop the ability to reason one’s way to an ethically defensible course of action.
  • To become aware of how the media alter and influence perceptions of the world.

Grade Breakdown

Final grades will be determined on the following scale:

Exam 10%
Response papers 30%
Annotated bibliography 5%
Term project 40%
Class participation/discussions 15%

Required Text

Media Ethics: Issues and Cases, 7th Edition, by Philip Patterson and Lee C. Wilkins

Instructor Contact


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado