Telecommunications | Media Ethics
T316 | 11095 | 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 justify
these decisions to yourself and 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 able to recognize significant moral
problems, to be more aware of how they have been solved in the past
by people in the electronic media industries and, most importantly,
to be better at reasoning  your way through such matters and
arriving at moral decisions that you can live comfortably with.
Moral reasoning is a crucial skill -- ask Martha Stewart, Don Imus,
Calvin Sampson, 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
text.

There will be two exams -- a midterm and a comprehensive final
exam.  The exams, essay in format, will account for 50% of your
overall course grade.  They are, to some extent, cumulative.  I
assume, on the final exam, that you still know what you knew when
you took the midterm, but questions on the final exam will be
focused on topics covered since the midterm.  The best answers on
the final, however, will certainly be ones that include relevant
material from the first parts of the class.

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).  I anticipate that you will
write three, related, research papers.  In the first, you'll
identify a job (or job-like activity) that you hope to be engaged in
a few years after completing your post-secondary education.  You
gather descriptive information about that job and summarize it in
the paper.  The job doesn't have to be media-related -- it should be
something you're seriously considering and likely to do.  In the
second paper, you identify and discuss three (or so) common ethical
problems that people pursuing this job or career or activity
commonly encounter, figure out if there are written "codes of
ethics" that apply to it, and identify sources you could use --
today -- to keep up-to-date with all aspects (including ethical
aspects) of this planned career.  In the final paper, you create a
couple of hypothetical case studies of ethical problems you could
encounter in this job and, using what you've learned in class,
reason your way through to solutions of them.  It's in this last
paper that you primarily demonstrate to me that you've learned basic
moral reasoning.  Collectively, these papers equal 50% of your
overall course grade.   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.  In general, more than four
absences (equal to two weeks of this class!) will severely 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, 2011 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 majors or minors
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.

Class meets 4:00pm-5:15pm MW.

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
http://www.indiana.edu/~bulletin/iub/college/2010-2011/. If you have
questions, or need additional help, see your academic advisor.