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What Would You Do? Media Ethics Scenarios

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This activity helps students apply journalism standards of accuracy, fairness and clarity in deciding how to report the news.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle and high school

TIME: Less than 30 minutes

MATERIALS: Media Ethics Scenarios worksheet (download), scenarios teacher key (download), Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (optional, download)

PREPARE: Print copies of the worksheet, one per student or small group. Print copies of SPJ Code of Ethics, if desired.

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Downloads

Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.

DO

1. Tell students: Journalists strive to be accurate, fair and clear in their reporting. News organizations and professional groups have codes to guide ethical behavior.

  • Note: If time and desired, go over the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

2. Individually or in small groups, have students read each scenario on the worksheet and answer the questions. How would they handle the situation if they were editors of their school newspaper?

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DISCUSS

Have students or groups share their decisions and reasoning. Use the answer key to help guide the discussion.

  • Are there disagreements? If so, why?
  • What specific standards guided their decisions?
  • Did personal and professional ethics clash in any of their decisions?
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