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WebQuests (ICT Integration)

Ethical Journalists

What does it mean to be "ethical"? What are "ethics" anyway? In simple terms, ethics refers to the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of conduct as it relates to the members of a profession. Almost all decisions by journalists have an ethical dimension:

  • Are all journalists or members of the press fair, credible, responsible, and ethical?
  • Are you responsible and ethical when you write?
The Preamble of the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists states that one of the main duties of a journalist is to further public enlightenment "by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues."

Professional integrity, honesty, fairness, and courage are listed as some of the traits that journalists should seek when gathering, reporting, and interpreting information.
Do you agree?


As a student journalist you have been appointed by the Education Department in your province to be part of a team that develops a website on ethical writing / journalism. This website will be used by learners throughout the province and it is intended to assist them in their writing in class and for school newspapers.


You will need to address issues that include, but are not confined to, questions such as:
  • What should be reported?
  • How should information be acquired?
  • How should information be presented and to whom?
  • Should material which is especially contentious be published?
  • Who should/should not be interviewed?
  • Who should/should not be quoted?
  • How much original material may I copy and paste? What is "fair use"?
  • How do I acknowledge sources?
  • Do I have to ask for permission to use the work of others?
  • What should be included, and what should be left out?
  • How much should be revealed to an interviewee regarding the real purpose of an interview?
Your website should include answers to these questions and other guidelines that you consider necessary to fulfill your brief.

For this assignment, you will work in teams of four and you will divide your task into roles as follows (click on each role for more information):

Your task is to design and compile the website. You must ensure that the site is fully functional. In addition to this you are regarded as the team leader and you will be responsible for

- leading team discussions, or allocating leaders for each team meeting
- allocating content writing tasks and deadlines
- writing the contents of the home page
- writing the lead article (effectively an editorial)
Learner representative
Your task is to write at least two articles and find at least one image that supports the content. Interview learners to find a perspective on journalistic ethics in school publications, and on plagiarism in your school – how students feel and how teachers have addressed this problem. One of your articles should show these opinions and be supported by a graph of student opinion polls on plagiarism. At least one other article must be a set of guidelines covering an aspect of ethical journalism.
Teacher representative
Your task is to write at least two articles and find at least one image that supports the content. Interview teachers to get a perspective on ethical journalism for learners and plagiarism. Find out how teachers address this problem and can create awareness for learners. Based on the teacher responses, create a checklist that learners can use to determine if they are plagiarizing or not. Create another set of guidelines that is directed at teachers to help them avoid situations where learners can plagiarize.
Society of Professional Journalists representative
Your task is to write at least two articles and find at least one image to support the content. You are the watchdog of professional ethics and you must ensure that all the content on the website abides by the ethics code of the Society. One of your articles must be a case study of good journalism ethics and another article must be a case study of a violation of journalism ethics - how was this matter dealt with and how could it have been avoided?

Meet as a team to discuss the number and types of articles that you would like to include on your website. Construct a mind map to help you identify the categories and levels of content that you will need to include on your website.

Once you have identified the content the webmaster will assign tasks and deadlines in consultation with the representatives. Discuss the layout and design of the website. You will share the responsibility of preparing the layout and you will work as a team with your webmaster when compiling the final product.

Your website should abide by the following guidelines:
- no frames pages (to ensure easy printing)
- pages should be printable
- subtle, yet clear graphic identity
- you must thoroughly cover the topic
- fulfill the criteria listed in the assessment sheet


» Journalistic writing basics
» Interview skills and techniques


As a writer, you must relate these journalistic codes, principles and practices to your own information gathering and reporting that you will experience during your learning.

» Download the Presentation Assessment

Related Scenarios

» Freedom of Expression
» Censorship
» Being Right About Copyright

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