Media Ethics


  • Begin a discussion by answering the questions below before 11:59 pm this Sunday.
  • The discussion forum remains open for you to come back and reply to your peers by Tuesday, however, make sure to meet the Sunday night main assignment deadline. Your assignment is timestamped once you post.  Late responses will not be graded.  
  • Be sure to type your answers offline and then copy and paste them into your group discussion thread.  Having a backup copy will give you the chance to email me your answers in case there are technical issues on Canvas.
  • Make sure to carefully read through each step below and re-read the discussion posting requirements outlined on our syllabus.
  • Every time you make a point you need to clearly explain why you think the way you do with support from your readings or screenings.
  • Be sure to come back and complete the peer reply portion of the assignment before 11:59 pm the following Tuesday.


1) Analyze the three (A-C) decisions below and think about who or what each person/organization is being most loyal to. Use any of the four Conflicting Loyalties (Media Ethics Chapter IV - pp.103-104) & and their corresponding bullet points for each one. You must include at least one quote or story support from the readings and screenings for each one. (Worth 30 pts)

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  1. Lowell Bergman and Mike Wallace's push to convince Wigand to tell his story on 60 Minutes(10 pts)
  2. CBS's initial airing of an edited 60 Minute version of Wigand's story left out all the crucial details about the dangers of cigarette smoking. (10 pts)
  3. Bob Woodward's decision to withhold coronavirus news in Trump's interviews from the public for several months.

2)  The Potters Box Approach. (Worth 40 pts)

First, choose one of the 2 topics to engage with: either 60 Minutes and how they handled Wigand, or Woodward and how he handled Trump and the COVID crisis news. 

Second, using the Potter's Box 4 step approach, determine if 60 Minutes or Woodward made the most ethically sound decisions.  Use this model to determine which/whose loyalties should have guided these media professionals. Make sure to read and follow the guidelines for thoroughly engaging with each Potter's Box step as outlined in our textbook. The Potter Box works best if you follow each step in the order intended.  Once you've gone through the 4 steps, come back and reassess your final decision. Again, you must include support from the readings and screenings to illustrate your decisions.

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