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COM4008 - Media, Ethics and Practice

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: John Arnold


Caulfield Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit introduces students to professional ethics and the media. Students will evaluate the media's fourth-estate role and its political agency in a commercial environment. Legislation, industry codes of practice and journalistic ethics will be analysed. Investigative reporting will be examined with reference to Watergate and investigative reporting's mythical 'golden age'. The interrelationship between PR, media liaison units and journalism will be explored. Tabloid journalism will be analysed with reference to economic and ethical concerns. The tension between the media's idealistic fourth-estate image and its professional, commercial and public interests is the unit's unifying theme.


Upon successful completion of the unit students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. A critical understanding of the history and continuing evolution of the media's role as the fourth estate.
  2. A critical understanding of the complex interplay between ethical, regulatory, political and economic factors in media reporting.
  3. An advanced knowledge of the key communications industry codes of conduct and the differing approaches to their enforcement including professional codes of ethics and industry codes of practice.
  4. A critical understanding of the nature of investigative reporting and the impact and legacy of Watergate on journalism, reporting and public figures.
  5. A critical understanding of the interrelationship between public relations, institutional media liaison units and journalism.
  6. An enhanced ability to critically evaluate topical debates about media ethics.


Research essay (5,000 words): 50%; Short essay 1 (2,000 words): 20%; Short essay 2 (2,000 words): 20%; Seminar participation: 10%

Contact hours

1 x 2 hour seminar per week