Journalism Ethics and Issues

Journalism Ethics and Issues
JRN U650 • Spring 2008
Research-paper assignment
Over the next three weeks you will write a 2,500-word research paper on a topic of your choice, subject to my
approval. This is one of your two major assignments, and will count for 30 percent of your grade. You have already
identified a topic and done some of your preliminary research. I do not anticipate having to tell any of you that you
have chosen an unworkable paper, so you may assume that you can continue your research.
The idea behind this paper is to identify an issue related to journalism ethics and then go deep on a specific example.
You might wish to write about what you see as liberal media bias; you could analyze one news organization, or,
even better, one story or series of stories published or broadcast by that organization. Or you may have been
prohibited from pursuing a good story while you were on co-op for fear of offending an important advertiser. You
could write about that experience within the context of improper business pressures on news organizations.
Once you have identified your subject and your example, you need to flesh it out with traditional research in
publications such as the American Journalism Review, and the like. There are many sources for you to
consider. If you’re looking for some, ask. In addition to your primary-source material — that is, the material related
to your specific example — I expect you to include at least four of these secondary sources.
Though many students know how to attribute source material properly in a research paper, it seems that at least as
many do not. As I told you on your last assignment, I am not particularly concerned about how you cite sources, but
you must cite all sources in a thorough and transparent manner. If there is any doubt in your mind as to whether a
particular fact or quote needs to be cited, well, cite it. If you have any questions about this, please contact me ahead
of time.
There are two principal ways to cite source material in a research paper. One is to use traditional footnotes or
endnotes. The other is to put together a bibliography at the back of your paper, and to cite within the text, which is
probably what most of you have learned. Let me offer an example of that. First, here is a sample bibliographical
Guensburg, Carol. “Nonprofit News.” American Journalism Review, February/March 2008.
Note that I have listed the URL of the article rather than the traditional page numbers. If you are accessing actual
printed material, you would write, for instance, pp. 32-41 instead of the URL.
In the body of your paper, you would simply write (Guensburg) in order to indicate that you are citing her article.
Your paper is due at the beginning of class on Thursday, Feb. 28. I expect it to be printed out in 12-point Times or
Times New Roman, double-spaced or space-and-a-half, with standard margins. Be sure your paper is stapled
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me.