3GJ312 Global Media Ethics

All versions:
3GJ312 (2024—2025)
3GJ312 (2023—2024)
3GJ312 (2022—2023)
3GJ312 (2021—2022)
3GJ312 (2020—2021)
3GJ312 (2019—2020)
3GJ312 (2018—2019)
3GJ312 (2017—2018)

Course code: 3GJ312

Course name: Global Media Ethics

Semester: Spring

Location: Kristiansand

Academic year: 2020–2021

Language: English

Credits: 10 ECTS Credits

Available for course students: No

Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the MA Programme in Global Journalism

Relevance within study programme

GJ 312 Global Media Ethics is an optional course in the MA Programme in Global Journalism at NLA University College and takes place in the second semester of the programme.


GJ 312 Global Media Ethics covers both the broader field of media ethics, which regards overall ethical and philosophical issues arising from media communication on a general level, and the more defined field of journalism ethics, which regards the question of ethics and good behaviour in professional media work.

A crosscutting theme of the course is the question of universals and differences in Global Journalism and media ethics. Major ethical frameworks will be addressed, and examples will be given of professional approaches in different societies and under different conditions. Particular attention will be given to the problem of relativism and the discussion of culturally bound models in journalism/media/communication ethics. For example, several scholars have called for a uniquely African approach to professional media practice in the African context, exemplified by an ethical framework based on the ubuntu philosophy. Others warn against tendencies of essentialism and cultural exceptionalism which they claim is a fallacy of culturally bound ethical frameworks. This will form an important discussion in the course.

Additionally, the course will entertain practical ethical issues raised by local and global media practice, including ethics related to social and new media practices.

Learning outcomes descriptors


The student:

  • can identify and explain major approaches to media ethics
  • can explain common concepts used in the global media ethics literature
  • has knowledge of various cultural-specific ethical frameworks


The student:

  • can discuss universal and cultural-specific aspects of media ethics and argue for a preferred approach
  • is able to consider different aspects of potentially problematic media practices using ethical reasoning

General competence

The student:

  • can identify and discuss ethical approaches to the media and journalism in a given society, between societies, and from a global perspective


Course details

GJ 312–1: Theoretical foundation

The first section of the course treats fundamental issues related to media and journalism ethics, including the problem of ethical relativism and the discussion of universals and particulars in media ethics.

GJ 312–2: Global experiences and alternative frameworks

The second section of the course discusses ethical experiences from various media societies around the world. Particular attention is given to identifying and assessing proposed cultural-specific frameworks relating to journalism and media ethics.

GJ 312–3: Current issues

The third section of the course focuses on practical ethical issues emanating from the contemporary media situation. Emphasis is placed on issues pertaining to digital media and citizen participation; global crisis and conflict reporting; and the debate concerning fake news.

Teaching and learning methods

The course has an introductory week with intensive teaching from Monday to Friday. The remaining six weeks of the course have weekly lectures. Online connection is available for the weekly lectures, but not for the introductory week.


250-300 hours.

Coursework requirements

Compulsory components

Lectures in GJ 312 are not compulsory, but students are encouraged to be present in order to create a fertile learning environment. The written exam and the assignment are compulsory.

Final assessment


The assessment of GJ 312 comprises two parts:

  • 4000 word written assignment/paper (51 % of the final grade)
  • 30 minute oral exam covering issues within global media ethics (49 % of the final grade)

Permitted aids under examination

1. Written assignment: All

2. Oral exam: None

Grading, examination

Both parts shall be individual assignments and are assessed according to the standard A–F grading system. One final grade is given for the course.

Assessment language

English or a Nordic language



Course evaluation

Annually course evaluation in accordance with the quality assurance system for NLA University College. Students may also give their feedback on the course in the student group/ in class.

Available for Course Students



Total reading:  652 pp.


GJ 312-1: Theoretical foundation

  • Christians, Clifford (2013) Global ethics and the problem of relativism. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 272-294. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (23 pp)
  • Christians, Clifford (2014) Primordial issues in communication ethics. In Robert S. Fortner and P. Mark Fackler (eds.), The handbook of global communication and media ethics, 1-19. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (19 pp)
  • Ess, Charles M. (2013) Global media ethics? Issues, requirements, challenges, resolutions. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 253-271. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (19 pp)
  • Gooding, David and John Lennox (2019) Doing what’s right. Whose system of ethics is good enough? Belfast: Myrtlefield Trust. 3-188 and 213-220. (194 pp)
  • Hanitzsch, Thomas, Patrick Lee Plaisance and Elizabeth A. Skewes (2013) Universals and differences in global journalism ethics. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 30-49. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (19 pp)
  • Melhus, Kåre (2016) The discipline of journalism: Reflections from a Christian perspective. Theofilos 8(2): 231-245. (15 pp)
  • Ward, Stephen J.A. (2010) Global journalism ethics. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 11-102. (90 pp)
  • Ward, Stephen J.A. (2014) Multidimensional objectivity for global journalism. In Robert S. Fortner and P. Mark Fackler (eds.), The handbook of global communication and media ethics, 215-233. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (19 pp)


GJ 312-2: Global experiences and alternative frameworks

  • Berenger, Ralph D. and Mustafa Taha (2013) Contextual ethics and Arab mass media. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 89-109. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (21 pp)
  • Fourie, Pieter J. (2008) Moral philosophy as the foundation of normative media theory: Questioning African Ubuntuism as a framework. In Stephen J.A. Ward and Herman Wasserman (eds.), Media ethics beyond borders: A global perspective, 105-123. Johannesburg: Heinemann. (19 pp)
  • Hafez, Kai (2002) Journalism ethics revisited: A comparison of ethics codes in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Muslim Asia. Political Communication 19(2): 225-250. (26 pp)
  • Kasoma, Francis (1996) The foundations of African ethics (Afriethics) and the professional practice of journalism: The case for society-centred media morality. Africa Media Review 10(3): 93-116. (24 pp)
  • McBride, Kelly and Tom Rosenstiel (2014) Introduction: New guiding principles for a new era of journalism. In Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel (eds.), The new ethics of journalism, 1-6. Los Angeles: Sage. (6 pp)
  • Moemeka, Andrew Azukaego (1997) Communalistic societies: Community and self-respect as African values. In Clifford Christians and Michael Traber (eds.), Communication ethics and universal values, 170-193. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (24 pp)
  • Norwegian Press Association (2015) Code of ethics of the Norwegian press. Available from: https://presse.no/pfu/etiske-regler/vaer-varsom-plakaten/vvpl-engelsk/ (3 pp)
  • Wasserman, Herman (2013) Media ethics in a new democracy: South African perspectives on freedom, dignity, and citizenship. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 126-145. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (20 pp)


GJ 312-3: Current issues

  • Díaz-Campo, Jesus and Segado-Boj, Francisco (2015) Journalism ethics in a digital environment: How journalistic codes of ethics have been adapted to the Internet and ICTs in countries around the world. Telematics and Informatics 32(4): 735-744. (10 pp)
  • Global Charter of Conscience (2012) Available from: https://charterofconscience.org/  (18 pp)
  • Guinness, Os (2013) The global public square: Religious freedom and the making of a world safe for diversity, 13-26. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP. (14 pp)
  • Quandt, Thorsten, Lena Frischlich, Svenja Boberg and Tim Schatto-Eckrodt (2019) Fake news. In Tim P. Vos and Folker Hanusch (eds.), The international encyclopedia of journalism studies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. (6 pp)
  • Skjerdal, Terje (2018) Brown envelope journalism: The contradiction between ethical mindset and unethical practice. In Hayes Mabweazara (ed.), Newsmaking cultures in Africa, 163-183. London: Palgrave Macmillan. (21 pp)
  • Tumber, Howard (2013) The role of the journalist in reporting international conflicts. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 50-68. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (19 pp)
  • Wahl-Jørgensen, Karin and Mervi Pantti (2013) Ethics of global disaster reporting: Journalistic witnessing and objectivity. In Stephen J.A. Ward (ed.), Global media ethics: Problems and perspectives, 191-213. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (23 pp)