Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Media Ethics & Regulation

Main Topics of Study

What Are/Is Ethics?

  • Why do journalists need ethics and morals
  • Classical theories
  • Language of morals
  • Press freedom and democracy

Professional Morality and the Public Interest

  • Limits on journalists
  • Truth and accuracy
  • Privacy and media freedom
  • The good journalist
  • Impartiality and objectivity

Vulnerable Groups

  • The mentally ill
  • Elderly
  • Disabled
  • Victims of crimes, disasters etc.
  • Discrimination

Other vulnerable and special groups – and privacy

  • Celebrities
  • Politicians and public figures
  • Witnesses
  • Criminals and offenders


  • The Children Act
  • Interviewing and reporting
  • Filming and identification
  • Rights of children in international law
  • Children involved with social services

Ethics and Newsgathering – sources and confidentiality

  • Privacy and intrusion
  • History of privacy
  • Intrusion and harassment
  • Clandestine listening, secret filming
  • Sources and their protection
  • Payments to sources
  • Bribes, corruption and conflicts of interest
  • Suppression
  • On and off the record
  • Plagiarism
  • Misrepresentation

Taste and Decency/ Harm and Offence

  • Defining taste – what is good taste?
  • What is indecent?
  • Causing offence

Ethics and Regulation – Voluntary and Compulsory

  • How ethics inform regulation and production codes
  • Voluntary regulation – press complaints council
  • Statutory foundation of regulation
  • Other regulatory systems – local (national) and international regulatory codes

Voluntary codes (UK Models)

  • The Press Complaints Commission
  • New Irish Press Council
  • Self regulation
  • NUJ code of conduct
  • Local codes

Statutory Codes (UK Models)

  • Ofcom programme code
  • The Production Guide – Channel 4 Channel 5 producers
  • BBC producers guidelines
  • Local codes

Publishing Ethics

  • Plagiarism
  • Editing pictures
  • Manipulating visual images
  • Editing text and quotes
  • Headlines
  • Taste and decency
  • Conflicts of interest

Ethics and the Internet

  • In the internet – the wild frontier?
  • Ethical considerations online
  • Ethical, legal and regulatory constraints on use of the internet
  • Intellectual rights
  • Copyright

International Ethics and Regulation

  • Journalism ethics an international perspective
  • UN Declaration of Human Rights
  • European Community human rights law and regulations
  • European media regulation
  • Television without frontiers

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

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Journalism, Ethics and Regulation - Frost, C (2007) – (Pearson)

Law for Journalists -  Quinn, F (2007) – (Pearson)

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading:

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Designing for Newspapers and Magazines - Frost, Chris (2003) - (Routledge)

Channel Four/Channel 5 (2008) The Producers Handbook

BBC Producers Guideline (2008) BBC 

NUJ Code of Conduct (revised 2008)

Ofcom Broadcasting Code (revised 2008)

U.S. Federal Communications Commission