Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Ethics in the Media

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Media and Communications

DESCRIPTION This study-unit considers ethics to be a means of quality control of media content, performance of media professionals, procedures used and the behavior of media audiences. In an age where the media are almost totally commercialized the unit is inspired by a tripartite vision of human persons and their dignity; a human community based on solidarity and the media as the servants of these persons and communities.

This is a study-unit related to media ethics and not just journalistic ethics. The latter is included in the former, which is wider and more comprehensive in the areas it covers, for example, advertising, entertaining programmes and audience ethics.

Study-Unit Aims:

- At familiarising students with the ethical theories that can guide and enlighten media use;
- At familiarising students with a holistic model of media ethics;
- At familiarising students with the Code of Ethics of the Institute of Maltese Journalists and other Codes of Journalistic Ethics;
- At discussing the ethical implications of a number of issues in journalism including truth, accuracy, privacy, relations with sources and image ethics;
- At analysing the ethical dimension of non-news genres including entertainment programmes and advertising;
- At discussing the role of audience ethics as well as the ethical obligations of media owners and producers.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Analyse key literature in the field and get acquainted with developing literature;
- Be better informed and make critical analysis of the philosophical underpinning of ethical theories;
- Demonstrate familiarity with a holistic approach to media ethics which also includes audience ethics;
- Review and analyse different code of journalistic ethics;
- Evaluate the ethical dimension of entertainment programmes.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Apply ethical theories and code of ethics to different situations journalists are faced with;
- Discuss the ethical dimensions of a number of TV genres including advertising and entertaining programmes;
- Be empowered as ethical producers or media users as may be the case, something of particular importance in the contemporary post-truth society.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Earlier edition of Christian, C. et al, Journal of Mass Media Ethics.
- Christians, Clifford, G., Fackler, Mark, Rotzoll, Kim B. (2012) Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning (9th Edit.) White Plains, N.Y.: Longman Publishers USA.
- Beales, I. (2014). The Editors’ Codebook. The handbook to the Editors’ Code of Practice. UK: Newspapers Publishers Association. Can be retrieved from
- Ward, S. J. A. (Ed.). (2013) Global media ethics. Problems and perspectives. Oxford: Wiley-Blackman.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Multiple Choice Questions Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Joseph Borg

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.