Australian legal and ethical

Comment Piece & Presentation

This task requires you to identify & analyze current legal and ethical issues for media practice. There are 2 parts to this assessment – a Comment Piece and a Presentation.

  • Each week, rostered students individually post a Comment Piece on a current media story or current issue for media practice.
  • Rostered students provide an In-class Presentation based on their Comment Piece. The presentation is an opportunity to further debate or expand on or add greater depth to the Comment Piece. Engaging audio/visual material, images, charts tables, or handouts can be useful in explaining your arguments and promoting discussion of your chosen topic. Don’t just read your Comment Piece to the class! Engage the class in a discussion about the issues you have raised in your comment piece.

Purpose and Overview of Assessment Task:

The purpose of this assignment is to assist you to develop your legal and ethical literacy in media, recognise legal and ethical issues for media; develop skills as a media practitioner in dealing with these issues and link theory to practice. This assignment is designed to stimulate discussion and debate within the class and reflection by the whole class on a broad range of topics and issues chosen by students. It enables you to develop skills in critical analysis, research and oral/written presentation. As well as looking at specific breaches of laws, codes and ethics we can examine broader legal and ethical issues for media practice.

What exactly does a Comment Piece Look Like?

A comment piece is a cross between an opinion column and an academic mini-essay with a clear focus, commenting on a particular story, topic or case in an informed way. Your Comment Piece should outline and discuss in a critically reflective and detailed manner relevant ethical and/or regulatory considerations raised by the story/issue. The focus is on ethics/regulation underpinning the media practice. The focus is on media law, media ethics, not eg on ethics or law more generally that might also be raised in the story itself. You have limited words – make them count and relate to this Unit of Study – it is not a general course on law and ethics but specifically dealing with MEDIA practice, media regulation.

Using a current (2020) media story, case study or actual problem from the media will help you to focus your work rather than trying to cover a broad field or too general topic. Aim for depth of engagement rather than breadth. You don’t need to cover every question or issue that arises. The tone of the piece is formal but you can use the first person, ‘I’. However, it is not just about your opinion. You are offering informed comment to the reader; teasing out tricky ethical dilemmas or contradictions or other possibilities; providing insight and ideas for consideration based on your reading and consideration of the issue as well as the Unit materials and broader independent research.

What is expected in a Presentation?

Your Presentation is based on, and assumes, we have all read the Comment Piece. It is a separate academic assignment and should also have in-text referencing and a List of References. The Presentation should expand or build on your Comment Piece engaging in depth with one or more of the issues raised, offer alternative views or additional perspectives and engage the whole class in discussion. Do NOT read out your Comment Piece or cut/paste it onto slides. Consider how to engage the class, through specific questions, perspectives or activities; avoid simply ‘what do you think’ type of questions?

How should I approach the Comment Piece?

Different issues require different approaches, but you might include a brief summary of why you chose to look at this story, and its significance for media practitioners. Given the diversity of stories and issues that students choose, it is not possible to provide a single template for your comment piece or presentation. Start by identifying the story (use a link rather than a lengthy summary of the story); articulate the legal or ethical issues at stake, what are the key legal/ethical concerns for media practice raised.

Starting with a single current story helps focus your work, rather than choosing to look at too broad a topic. Some stories lend themselves to analysis of a range of issues, within the story itself, how the story is obtained/developed, how the story is presented or the response following publication. Other stories will fall neatly into regulatory areas, with applicable & relevant codes and/or legislation. These may raise issues such as what regulations are relevant and whether they have been breached or whether or not the regulations are effective; or what legal and ethical factors should be considered by practitioners in dealing with or publishing stories of this type. Other stories will raise grey areas with no clear legal or ethical guidelines but require consideration of multiple perspectives.

You might offer some useful analysis of the relevant regulator or factors that help us to decide what the legal or ethical solution could be. You could offer insight into some theory or discuss the absence/need for regulation or inadequacy of regulation. The General Legal and Ethical Framework or specific legal and ethical frameworks in each of the seminar modules, additional readings and materials can assist you.

The structure of the comment piece is up to you, but it is suggested that you provide:

  • An interesting title to engage the reader – this should also be title of Discussion post.
  • A brief discussion of the issue, its relevance (why we should be interested or concerned). Don’t spend too long summarizing the story but provide a link to the story.
  • Identify the ethical and/or regulatory principles or framework(s) that inform your argument and their benefits or shortcomings in dealing with your story. Analyze /discuss concerns or issues arising from the story (whether by way of its preparation, publication or fall out from its publication) as well as any contradictions that are created by these OR you may use the story to focus on a broader issue of law/ethics for media practitioners.
  • Express your informed and considered views on the issues raised (informed by the frameworks, media commentary, academic and critical texts).
  • Refer to specific media texts (i.e. programs, news, articles, commentators) as well as to academic and critical texts, theories and concepts from the unit material; you could also consider responses on social media, or from the broader public.
  • Use headings to structure your piece, and minimum of five (5) references

CURRENT Media Story or Issue

We can look at all areas of media practice including journalism, PR, marketing, advertising, entertainment, social media and other new forms of media. Current stories and issues can be found in the media you engage with, in decisions of media regulators, academic journals, or many sources in the List of Useful Resources and Links

Try to relate your Comment Piece to the week you are giving your Presentation


  • This task requires you to engage with current legal and ethical issues. Given the limited time/words for the task, it’s suggested that you focus on perspective of or implications for the media practitioner. Your work should be based on a story or issue published AFTER 1 July 2020. Occasionally, a story may have started in 2018 or 2019 and you can use it if it has a current or ongoing issue in 2021. Eg the ACCC’s Digital Platform’s Inquiry.
  • Use at least some course material, themes or frameworks to connect to this Unit of Study, as well as evidence your own wider readings & research. A summary of a topic or story without substantive comment and reflection will receive low marks. The depth of your independent research should be documented through references to relevant articles, web sites, and other credible, relevant, current resources.
  • Note: you also can’t do the same topic you intend to cover in the Essay. Essay topics will be posted early in the semester.
  • While some international stories are relevant across all jurisdictions, the primary focus of this course is Australian regulatory system, particularly when examining media laws and codes. Speak to your lecturer prior to starting work, if you would like to comment on a story involving non-Australian legal system or codes/ regulation. Some stories or issues are not limited by legal frameworks but illustrate universal ethical or regulatory issues or concerns for the media and can be used. Eg. a recent UK law was introduced requiring people viewing pornography online to identify themselves – the law is different here, but similar issues of regulation of pornography and privacy are raised. You could compare the different approaches to regulating the same issue in Australia with the UK.
  • The story or issue must be covered in English language media. ALL media, materials and references must be originally in English language (not student’s translation).

So if the story is still a current one in 2021 you can then bring us up to date. If in doubt, check with your lecturer.

Technicalities – there is no 10% leeway on word limits!

Word Limit: Comment Piece must not exceed 1500 words (including in-text quotes, but excluding List of References). Marks deducted for exceeding the word limit or for late submission (unless Special Consideration). Use in-text referencing (eg Harvard or APA). Do not use footnotes (they are counted in your word limit). The Library has online referencing tutorials if you are not familiar with this.

A List of References (not counted in word limit) for the Comment Piece and for the Presentation.

The Presentation time limit: 10 minutes plus a 5-10 minute class discussion (6-8 slides). This may be flexible depending on the number of students rostered in the same week.

Ensure you have page numbers on your Comment Piece and slide numbers on PowerPoint.

Assessment Criteria & Feedback

We also consider clarity of expression; structure of argument; use of media and academic texts; your input and reflection regarding the key issues; extent and depth of critical engagement.

Readings ( I already uploaded some of them) :………………………

Online comment piece
Criteria Ratings Pts


/ 15 pts


/ 15 pts


/ 15 pts


/ 15 pts


/ 15 pts


/ 15 pts

Written Component

/ 10 pts

Total Points:

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