Media and Ethics (Jan-May 2015)

Class on Wednesdays from 11.00 to 14.00
Room 2.4 NAC

Module Outline
Please note that lectures will be conducted in English and French.

21st January
Introduction générale

28th January
We finish discussing the notes from last week (please try to research into the cases which are illustrated in the last few slides). Then, we discuss Introduction to ethics

Today, I gave a series of handouts. Please make sure you read them and prepare the exercises as requested:
Fairness Formula: We read the first two pages in class. You need to work out questions 1 to 5 for next week.
Scenarios: We discussed scenario 1 in class. The rest to be done for next week.
Exercising Ethics and News Judgement: Pick some interesting news report from the local media and bring them to class for discussion next week.

4th February
We tackle any questions you may have on the remaining slides from last week on Introduction to ethics.
We discuss the following slides: Media-Ethics
We also discuss the exercises which were given last week (Fairness formula, Scenarios, News report analysis). Please bring all your material.

11th February
Please complete all the exercises from the previous handouts and bring your answers to class for discussion.

We will be doing some small group work on local news reports using the list of questions from the ‘Exercising Ethics and News Judgement’ handout. Please bring your own selection of articles for brainstorming. Each team will give a brief explanation of their findings in front of the class.

Please make sure that you read the slides on Media Ethics as well for discussion in class. Here is an updated version with illustrations included in the slides.

18th February
Teams which have not yet finished their small presentations on local articles will do so. Then, we discuss the following slides: Éthique et déontologie
We will also do some further team work using the following handouts: Case studies

25th February
We carry on with the teamwork on the case studies which were given last week. Each team is expected to make a brief presentation of their findings on the ethics statements given (around 5 minutes per team).
Then, we will complete the remaining tasks from the handout.

Here is some material which you can use to compete Task 2:
NEPA Code de pratiques professionnelles de la presse mauricienne
Code de déontologie de La Sentinelle
Code of Ethics by the IBA

Other useful reading:
L’éthique journalistique : plaidoyer pour une autorégulation
Chapter 1 – Ethics in Journalism: Why and How? from my book Ethical Journalism and Gender Sensitive Reporting which was published in May 2013 under the aegis of UNESCO and UOM. The whole book is normally available for my students at a discounted price of Rs 200 instead of Rs 300 (just to cover the cost of printing) but if you cannot afford, please let me know.
Improving Democracy in Mauritius. The need to remove information boundaries and enhance the media, a paper which I published in March 2013 in the Journal of Social Policies and Development – Special Issue – OSSREA Mauritius Chapter.

4th March
We will have a guest talk by Rajen Bablee and Diya Tatarah from Transparency Mauritius about corruption and investigative journalism from 11.30 to 12.30. Then, we will carry on with our classwork (Task Two and Task Three) as well as discussion of the article on the terrorist alert at the airport. Please also bring interesting articles for discussion in class.

Please make it a must to attend as you will be asked to write a summary of the talk and discussions as first graded assignment.

As for the book, it will be available in the Mediacom Studio as from Monday afternoon.

11th March
I shared the audio recording of the talk by Mr Rajen Bablee by Dropbox. Please make sure you listen to it and write the summary report (in the form of an article – i.e. using the inverted pyramid structure) including any other elements which you find interesting after perusal of Transparency’s website and other sources. Focus on how journalism, especially investigative journalism, can contribute to the ethical conduct of affairs in Mauritius (at all decision-maing levels including private and public sectors). To be submitted this Wednesday. The audio is solely to be used for this assignment, not for publication. The edited version will be published later.

Please note that the Digital Video Conference is being postponed to April due to the schedule of Mr Eduardo Cue in Paris.

We will thus carry on with our class. We will do some more practical exercises and discuss your fresh articles from the local press. Please do not forget to bring some of your own!

Also do not forget to post your contributions to the special page which has been created for the proposed code of ethics for a campus publication.

Useful resources which we discussed in class

Since there will be the flag raising ceremony during class time, the class is postponed to next week. However, please complete all tasks and assignments and contribute online as requested above.

Note for assignment which was supposed to be submitted today. Given the weather condition, please submit a hard copy by Friday morning in my assignment box. If you cannot come on Friday morning, please send at least a soft copy to my email then submit a hard copy for marking as soon as possible.

18th March
Please refer to the notes above. There will be practical exercises of analysis of local media content (please bring your own). Do not forget to contribute to the proposal for a code of ethics. Please also read all resources which have been shared on this page for discussion in class. Those need me to sign the cover letter for internship, please bring your copy in class.

Reminder: There will be a test next week (25th March).

25th March
In-class test.

All students also need to rework and submit their first assignment as discussed in class.
As I have written 2 weeks ago (see above), you should write a summary report of the talk by the Director of Transparency Mauritius (in the form of an article – i.e. using the inverted pyramid structure) including any other elements which you find interesting after perusal of their website and other sources.

Use all the knowledge you have acquired in modules Principles of Journalism as well as Written Skills in French.

Make use of the inverted pyramid and 5W+H. Use adequate levels of ‘habillage de texte / titraille‘ (titre + surtitre / titre + sous-titre / chapô / intertitres / exergues / hors-textes / encadrés, etc.)

Also, pay particular attention to language (vocabulary, grammar and syntax).

Past papers
Here is a copy of last year’s
Class Test 2014
Exam (May 2014)

1st April
I will provide some preliminary feedback on the class test.
Then, we will do some practical exercises in class, namely an analysis of local media content (please bring your own). As per demands made through the feedback system, these exercises will be done in teams.

8th April
I will give back your scripts for the test and work it out together. Then, we’ll do more practical exercises in class. Please bring media content too.

Scripts were given back in class and we discussed the answers to the test in detail. Students who were absent should gather their scripts and obtain information from their classmates.

Teams who analyzed newspaper articles in class are encouraged to post links of the articles in the comments section here and to elaborate on the issues they have found. All students are also encouraged to post articles too and provide a brief analysis in the comments section below.

15th April
No class scheduled.

However, all teams are expected to submit the topic chosen for the last assignment and input in the comments section below for approval. Please do so by 15th April latest.

About the last assignment
You are expected to form teams of 3 students. Each team should select a story which has been given coverage in the local media over the last months. You should research all articles which have been published on that topic in all local media (or as many as you can find online) in order to:
– analyze the coverage given by specific media houses over time
– compare the coverage given by different media houses

Obviously, you should focus on the ethical dimensions involved in reporting the news story.

All teams will give an oral presentation in class as from 22nd April. There will be drawing of lots at the beginning of the class to determine order of presentation so all students are expected to be in class at 11.30 sharp and to stay throughout the session.

Each team will have 10 minutes for presenting and 5 minutes for Q&A. You are encouraged to use slides as visual aids and to include copies of the articles to be analyzed in your slides.

Additional reading
The 7 deadly sins of journalism according to Harrower
Untold Stories: How Corruption and Conflicts of Interest Stalk the Newsroom, a report by EJN
Leadership and Guiding Principles for African Media Owners and Managers by the African Media Initiative
He Said, She Said, and the Truth by Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times
Applying Standards: Media Owners and Journalism Ethics, a report by CIMA

29th April
We carry on with the oral team presentations (see instructions above). All teams should be present throughout the session.

As this is the last session for the year, please let me know if you have any questions or comments. You may also use the comments section for asking questions so that all students can view online. Please note that I will not be available between 20th May and 10th June as I will be travelling. So make sure you do your revision well in advance for any potential questions.

Here are the correct final CA marks

Please collect the remaining articles at the Registry.

Good luck for all your exams!


16 thoughts on “Media and Ethics (Jan-May 2015)

  1. For the assignment article our Group _ Jane Chamroo, Anjesha Meenachee Vythee and me have chosen the article _ ( Un Vibromasseur pour chasser les mauvais esprits:Un ”guérisseur” arrêté pour attouchments sexuels) which was published on 14th-16th Feb 2015 in Le Defi n 24 Heures Info
    We would like 2 investigate further more about it n work on it if it is approved


  2. BAI- convertit en NCB
    C’est a propos des activites reprise par la banque. Dans le Journal Le Defi on nous parle des activites qui ont repris de maniere souple avec la bonne fonctionnement de toutes ses services. Mais dans le journal L’express on nous dit qu’il y a pas eu beaucoup de retraits et que les services telle que ‘l’internet banking’ et les cartes de credit ne marchent pas.


  3. Dear ma’am, I sincerely apologize for the lateness.
    My group would like to do the presentation on the recent Eleana Gentille’s case. We will concentrate on articles related to her death, and on articles related to the prime suspect.


  4. Depuis le début du cours jusqu’à la fin, je pense que ce n’est pas seulement l’éthique que le/la journaliste doit prendre en considération, mais aussi sa crédibilité quand il doit reporter un fait.

    Autre chose que j’aimerais ajouter, la peine capitale est un sujet qui refait surface. Est-ce une loi qui doit être réintroduite??


  5. I found this article and thought of sharing it.

    Wrong Status: Her Dignity was in your hands
    Iam Aehr/0 Comments

    I hate how the media is speculating about things. I hate how they presented the wrong facts. I hate how people instantaneously conjured up possible theories that could have been at the cause of the incident. I hate how people simply condemn those who commit suicide.
    And I hate it even worse when my parents tell me I can’t change any of these.

    I’m a teenager and I go to the Queen Elizabeth College. Great, I must have caught your attention by now. Why not? After all, unless you have a personal grudge against the QEC, you sure look up to this institution. I’m sorry for not putting it as an “all-girls star college”. I had rather qualify it as its motto goes: “Not only for education, but also for life.”

    Does this motto suddenly sound ironic, after the loss of two of our sisters this year? This I know not. Neither am I here today to defend anyone nor to try shut down people who believe our school should take the blame.

    What I’m here today for this to fight for the dignity of my belated friend. Friend, victim or however you had named her. She remains for me a sweet soul, always and forever.

    Yes, for her dignity. And I’ll tell you why.

    Let me first relate to you a short little segment of our daily interactions on the school bus. I remember some 3 or 4 months from now, a woman in – ‘to play it safe’- her 65s living in the southern part of the island had been raped.

    ‘To play it safe’: because I honestly had no idea what the real age of that lady was. While one radio claimed she was 65, another read out 68. And that was exactly what a friend of mine was unable to understand. How come that the different media themselves had no agreed consensus on the precise, accurate fact they were meant to present? The last time I checked, I do remember the media having the responsibility to present news in the utmost objective, accurate way.

    Now, it may appear childish to argue on such a point. Who gives a damn about the age of a victim?

    But I’ll tell you what; it is these little loopholes that ultimately culminate into something more dramatic, into something that may cost all of us a price 10 years from now.

    The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. They control the minds of the masses.

    Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing; what is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind.

    I am frantically not sorry. I am not going to wait for someone else to ring the bell.

    That moment in the school bus with my friends, I felt it was high time we highlight blotched stains on the way information is presented, or the media would continue to live in their heavenly abyss of unquestionable ‘opposition party’ that the Mauritian populace has handed over it and aggravate the way they present their news.

    I don’t think that waited too long.

    It happened.

    With a grave cherry added on the top.

    Read 58256 times on this late Wednesday afternoon and shared on Facebook 2253 times was this article that greatly disturbed me. ‘Disturbed’ would be a polite way to place it for I was more than outraged.

    “La collégienne qui s’est suicidée : «It’s done. It’s finalized. I am ready to leave you guys»”

    Written by this woefully DISTORTED news is still up today May 12 and was repeated during Radio Plus’ News Info in the morning.

    The Real Status

    Someone they interviewed must have said something about a status and couldn’t get them the whole thing so they just took bits and parts of it. Oh but give me a second: Does not it dwell the duty of the reporter to confirm the factual data?

    The media casually removed “There’s no way on Earth” to twist the story and present a 180-degrees-rotated news to 1.2 million people.
    This is not even a mistake or shame for the Mauritian Media, it’s a blunt stigma on their unprofessional-ism.

    I can’t bring myself to think how many thousands of Mauritians have read the wrong the reporting and have made up their minds and invented their own sets of prejudices attributable to blind information consumerism.

    People are sheep. Media, the shepherd.

    What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and subsequently replaced by a new dish.

    Media have no rights to twist the facts; this is an utter disrespect to not only the young departed soul, to her family and close ones, but also to the Mauritian Population to who they are answerable!

    It’s important to get the true thoughts forth.

    In addition, it is very thoughtful of the media to always come with their bags loaded ethics and respect to human sensitivities and état d’esprits.
    As per the Hindu tradition, before they carry the body off to the crematorium, FAMILY members should surround the body for praying purposes. There was one photographer forced his way into the middle to take a picture of the mother crying with the face of the girl in the frame.
    After some time, he was back with QEC girls (Shrivali’s friends) to where her body rested and was asking them to stand by her and cry so that he could have another picture. He didn’t stop until the body was carried away to be cremated.

    Whatever kind of image the media was going for, well they missed it.

    Furthermore, we all knew that the information industry is one that generate news à la minute. However, leave it to them this time to chronically live up to this tag and prove that hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century.

    The media, especially the commercial ones, are notorious for their sets of gate-keeping, sensationalism and constant race to shoot their TRPs up.

    Amidst all this rush and competition, I find it unapologetic that someone has to remind them of their responsibility to cross-verify, double check their facts!

    People today believe that it was all decided and planned since the 7th of May as the media so well quoted it. People interpreted that her immediate environment must have doubted things because of that wrong status but never paid attention. People must have thought that she wanted to leave us when she clearly was vibrant about never leaving us all.

    Can you imagine the misinterpretations that thousands of people got by reading the wrong status? Do the media fathom the amount of harm this brings to the dignity of the family, friends and relatives?

    Sure, I don’t have to continue and add that this distortion or news could follow legal pursuits against many media institutions.

    This time Dearest Media, you messed up badly by moulding the perceptions of Mauritians in an absolutely unacceptable way.

    And this is not the first time where the media has inflated bubbles, with uncritical bandwagon reporting played an indispensable role in creating destructive interpretations. If we have to make a report of things, it would be a whole sheet of records coming out.

    This incident has merely given me the opportunity to speak out about something that has been terribly bugging me.

    I’ll clarify that it is the place of none of us to judge any body’s act of despair. It takes tremendous courage to reach that point and crystallize the dark thoughts that have been haunting one and jump into the void, kick the stool to be left hanging or slice the wrist artery open. And, to believe that solely failed dalliances or pressures from parents to perform well at school are pathetic mind-sets of a society that can only dissect political shies away from encouraging the media to have prime time programmes on issues like homosexuality, blue-collar crimes, drug addiction, broken families inter alia.

    I am not naïve. I understand that a vibrant press plays a crucial role in a healthy democracy; the media also have an indispensable watchdog role in business and economic affairs. At their best, journalists make sense of complex economic issues, dig into scandals that would otherwise go unseen, and shine light on government policies and their effects on jobs, consumers and taxpayers. Without smart and critical economic reporting, society would have far fewer defenses.

    But the media has also been called upon to be fully objective, fair and accurate. And as a consumer of daily news, I demand my right to fair, CROSS-VERIFIED and accurate news.

    This context may seem petty to some, but I find it a violation to my democratic rights to cohabit with this kind of media.

    If you Dear Mauritian Media could have stood up to for your pen and shielded your ink’s free flow after the Charlie Hebdo’s aftermath in your respective offices during that week of January, learn to stand up and protect your ink from being dirtied with filth oh dear media.

    The people reading this should not be taking what they read in the papers as an alibi for their ignorance. And you Dear Media, from this instance have the duty to make your consumers AWARE of the REAL FACTS!

    If you had the nerve to report false news, then have the decency to correct yourselves and publicly apologise.

    “If I can guide some erring one to truth, inspire within his heart a sense of duty;
    if I can plant within my soul of rosy youth a sense of right, a love of truth and beauty;
    if I can teach one man that God and heaven are near,
    I shall not then have lived in vain while here.”

    Thank you Shrivali. You shall always be remembered.
    All the love in the world, God Bless.


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