Ethics & Problems in Telecom- Syllabus

RTV 4432 – Ethics & Problems in Telecommunication

Instructor: Bridget Grogan
Office Hours: Available at all times while abroad or by appointment
Office Location: 2112 Weimer Hall
Phone: 294-1503 office

This course will prepare you to resolve right-from-right dilemmas by using a three-step process in ethical reasoning.  You will learn to reason your way through the types of dilemmas faced by journalists today in which two or more central values of  your moral system come into conflict.  You will study ethics theory in order to develop and understand your own ethical ideology to help you make good ethical decisions that can be defended with solid reasoning. You will develop decision memos within the context of key frameworks.  You will weigh your ethical decisions within the contexts of technology, transparency, harm, autonomy, privacy and community.

By the conclusion of this course, you should be able to:
Debate the most pressing ethical issues facing journalists today.
Evaluate claims and assertions using critical-thinking skills.
Resolve dilemmas with a three-step ethical reasoning skills

1) Decision Memo Guide by Dr. Norm Lewis:  Decision Memo Guide
2) Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice by Patrick Lee Plaisance
media ethics book





Decision Memo Guide test                                                                     15%
Quizzes                                                                                                      10%
Decision Memos (2) due abroad/ (2) completed by July 1st          50%
Class Presentation                                                                                   25%

Decision Memo Guide test (15%) to be taken on second day of class
This multiple choice test on the Decision Memo Guide is one more incentive to read (not
skim) the guide and apply it to new situations.

Quizzes (10%)
Quizzes will be based on the assigned book chapters for each class.

Class Presentation (25%)
Teams of two students will make a presentation about a case study in which one team member will offer his/her decision based on the stated dilemma.  The other team member will offer an alternate/opposing decision. Case studies will be assigned by the instructor and will vary.  Each team member will also turn in his or her own decision memo.  The team’s individual decision memos will have the same dilemma but different alternatives and ethical rationales.

Decision Memos (50%)
These are completed decision memos according to the formula and examples in the Decision Memo Guide. They will be scored according to the rubric in the guide. You will submit four, two while abroad and two by July 1st.

*** Prior to the first class, you will be expected to read the Decision Memo Guide to be prepared for a test on the guide.  You will also be expected to read Chapter 1 of Media Ethics and take the quiz on pages 18 and 19 regarding your ethical ideology.


Be concise – often I see very “wordy” writing.  After you write a post, take time away from it, then go back and eliminate about 30% of your words.  You should be able to do this without losing any meaning, information or context.  Learn to reduce.

Avoid run-on sentences.  I see this much more frequently than I should.  Be concise.  Limit your sentences to conveying one idea only.  Use punctuation!  Use good grammar and vocabulary. Blog writing can be less-than-formal in tone but should be grammatically correct.  If you don’t know what a word means, don’t use it!  Poor vocabulary is a common problem.  This will really hurt your grade.

Edit yourself.  Write.  Walk Away.  Come back later and read for meaning, context, grammar and vocabulary.

Follow the Decision Memo Guide directions.  The memos are fairly easy to write if you structure them properly.  Not following the format will cost you significant points on your memos.

Class Schedule

Subject Assignment Due
1 Course Overview, Discussion of Chap. 1
2 Decision Memo Guide test, Chapter 1 discussion continued (page 21, ques. 7) Decision Memo Guide Test
3 Chapter 2 – Key Frameworks  Chap. 2 Quiz
4 Chapter 3 – Application to Media  Chap. 3 Quiz
5 Chapter 4 – Technology Chap. 4 Quiz, DM 1 due
6 Chapter 5 – Transparency Chap. 5 Quiz, DM 2 due
7 Chapter 8 – Autonomy Chap. 8 Quiz, Class Presentations
8 Chapter 9 – Privacy  Chap. 9 Quiz, Class Presentations
9 Chapter 10 – Community Chap. 10 Quiz, Class Presentations
10 Wrap up of class

Grade Scale:

The UF grading policy can be found in the undergraduate catalog online.

Percent Percent Percent Percent
A 100-93% B 86-83% C 76-73% D 66-63%
A- 92-90% B- 82-80% C- 72-70% D- 62-60%
B+ 89-87% C+ 79-77% D+ 69-67%


Attendance is mandatory. Per study-abroad policy, anyone coming late (after a 5-minute grace period) loses a half-letter grade for the course, and anyone who misses a class loses a full letter grade for the course. The only exception is if you are truly ill and you let me know ahead of time. (FYI, the mandatory attendance policy also applies to other educational activities during the month abroad such as guided tours and speakers.)

Academic Integrity

University of Florida students pledge to abide by an honor code that prohibits academic dishonesty such as fabrication, plagiarism and cheating. You have an affirmative obligation to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. You also must report to appropriate personnel any condition that facilitates academic misconduct. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

When I discover cheating, my default policy is to fail all involved for the entire course and report the details to the Dean of Students Office.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities requesting accommodations should first register with the Disability Resource Center (352-392-8565) by providing appropriate documentation. Once registered, students will receive an accommodation letter, which must be presented to me when requesting accommodation. Please request that accommodation and letter in the spring, before we depart.

Help With Coping

The UF Counseling and Wellness Center is a terrific, free resource for any student who could use help managing stress or coping with life. The center, at 3190 Radio Road on campus, is open for appointments and emergency walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment or receive after-hours assistance, call 352-392-1575. If you need assistance while we’re in Europe, call on any faculty member or AIFS staff member.

Course Evaluations

Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course by completing online evaluations. You will be notified by email when the evaluations are open, near the end of Summer C. Summary results are available to you and the public.
Student Complaint Process:
Students who have complaints about any course can use the links below for information about filing a complaint:
Residential Course:
Online Course:

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