Telecommunications | Media Ethics
T316 | 14506 | Terry, H.

TEL-T 316
Media Ethics
Class number -- 14506

Description --

Telecommunications majors should consider TEL-T 316 as a skills
class -- not unlike video editing or web design.  "Moral reasoning"
is the skill taught here.  This is how to figure out what's right
and what's wrong when confronted with options for action and how to
justify these decisions to yourself and to others.  This course will
not command that you adhere to specific moral principles related to
electronic media -- it's not prescriptive.  Rather, when the course
is done, you ought to be able to recognize significant moral
problems, be aware of how they have been solved in the past by
people in the electronic media industries and, most importantly,
know how to reason your way through such matters and arrive at a
moral decision that you can live comfortably with.  Moral reasoning
is a crucial skill -- ask Martha Stewart, Jeff Skilling, Bernie
Ebbers or -- perhaps -- Jerry Springer.

There are three main parts to the class.  It begins with an overview
of classical and contemporary theories of ethics and moral
reasoning.  There are different ways you can go about moral
reasoning; here you'll learn what those are, compare them, and begin
to figure out which seems best for you.  The second part of the
class focuses on ethical aspects of the business side of
telecommunications (for example, ethical things that come up in
hiring, firing or just in the general course of employment).  The
text for this part of the class is a business, rather than
telecommunications, ethics book.   All electronic media, even "non-
commercial educational broadcasting" are affected by business
forces.  We'll consider general business law ethics problems,
especially in the context of market-place driven capitalist
economies, but draw as many examples as we can from the electronic
media industries in the U.S.  The final part of the class will
selectively consider some special, at least partially but not wholly
non-business related, ethical problems of the electronic media (for
example, ethics of electronic media news or respect for privacy).
For this part of the course, we'll use a traditional media ethics

There will be two exams -- a midterm and a comprehensive final
exam.  There will also be additional written assignments intended to
give you a chance to learn about specific ethical problems
encountered by people pursuing careers that you're considering for
yourself.  This class offers you the chance to learn more about
ethical issues you'll encounter in your own future (which need not
necessarily be in the electronic media).  This class could enroll up
to 40 students.  If it does, then it's likely that there will be a
series of short, only partially integrated, written assignments
requiring a modest amount of research.  If the class is relatively
small (say around 25), then the written assignments will be less
numerous but more comprehensive, giving you the opportunity to dig
more deeply into the ethics of a career or profession you may

The exams will count for about 40% of your overall course grade and
the papers / research projects / written assignments will account
for about 60%.  Both the substance and technical aspects of your
writing will be considered in grading written work submitted for TEL-
T 316.  Good professional writing is expected.  Class attendance is
also required.  More than four absences (equal to two weeks of this
class!) will severely adversely affect your course grade.  If you
can't get up consistently for an 9:30 a.m. class (and be ready to
actively participate in that class once it starts) then you ought to
take TEL-T 316 some other time.  A subset of class members (probably
five) will be randomly selected each day as class discussants.  They
are expected to be fully prepared to participate in (indeed lead)
class discussion.  Absences (or lack of preparation) on days when
you are selected as a class discussant will further adversely affect
your course grade.

I will follow IU's standard grading system, giving an "A" for
excellent work, a "B" for good work, a "C" for average work, a "D"
for poor but passing work and an "F" for work that is
unsatisfactory.  In the past,  the average grade in my TEL-T 316
classes has been about a 2.5 (between a B and a C).  Most students,
obviously, do "average" work.  A few will do good work and
justify "B" grades.  Only a few, most likely,  will do truly
outstanding work and earn "A" grades.

The prerequisite for enrolling in TEL-T 316 is satisfactory
completion (currently with a C- or better) of either TEL-T 205 or
TEL-T 207.  If you will not have satisfactory completed at least one
of these classes prior to the start of the Spring, 2007 semester,
you can contact me and seek my permission to enroll (space
permitting).   I will, however, be quite strict about the completion
of the prerequisites if you are a telecommunications major or
minor.  After all, you must take TEL-T 205 and TEL-T 207 anyway and
you ought to finish them prior to TEL-T 316 so you get the most out
of this class.  I will not allow you to take TEL-T 316 concurrently
with one of these prerequisites unless you have completed the
other.  I hope, however, that the class will enroll at least some
non-telecommunications majors and am quite open to non-majors making
a case to me that they are either prepared for TEL-T 316 through
other courses or experiences or that they are willing to do some of
the work related to TEL-T 205 and TEL-T 207 so that they can follow
what we are doing in Media Ethics.  To seek permission to enroll in
TEL-T 316 if you will not have fulfilled the prerequisite, or to
learn more about the class in general, please contact me at

This course counts toward Social and Historical Studies distribution
requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences. It may, or may
not, also count toward other degree requirements. For more
information about which requirements this course could fulfill see
the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin at If you have
questions, or need additional help, see your academic advisor.