Telecommunications | Media Ethics
T316 | 10854 | Terry, H


Students should consider TEL-T 316 to be 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
explain and 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 better at recognizing
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 and
explain to others.  Moral reasoning is a crucial skill -- ask Martha
Stewart, Don Imus, Bernie Ebbers or -- perhaps -- Jerry Springer.

There are three main parts to the class.  It begins with a basic
overview of classical and contemporary theories of ethics and moral
reasoning followed by an overview of capitalism.  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.  And we'll discuss how capitalism may affect moral
reasoning.

The second part of the class focuses on ethical aspects of the
business side of telecommunications (for example, ethical matters
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 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 text.

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 pursue.

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.  A subset
of class members (probably four) 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 (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, 2009 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, majors and minors 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
terry@indiana.edu.

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 in the College or
in other schools.  For more information about which requirements
this course could fulfill in the College, see the College of Arts
and Sciences Bulletin at
http://www.indiana.edu/~bulletin/iub/college/2008-2010/index.shtml.