A newsroom is a good place to examine that, she says. "Journalism is one of the few professions where your honesty is all that you have, and where it's absolutely essential to tell the truth. How else is the public supposed to know what's going on in the world?"
Research Materials & Copyright
"Sources" may also be defined as research material, including newspapers,
magazines, books, research reports, studies, polls, radio, television, newsreels,
documentaries, movies, audio podcasts or video from the Web. All such sources,
particularly secondary sources, should be carefully vetted. Good journalists don't
simply extract information, or claims, from written or broadcast material; they
check that material against other or similar material for accuracy. Just because
something is published doesn't mean it's accurate or fair. Wikipedia, for example,
is not always an accurate source and should not be cited as such.
The reporter must clearly indicate where information comes from. Failure to
disclose your reliance on someone else's work is unethical, and can leave
readers or viewers in the dark about the legitimacy of the information. This does
not hold true if something is a well-known fact that is beyond reasonable dispute.
For example, it would not be necessary to cite a source for "John Adams was the
second president of the United States."
--Fact checking information: Students should always check spelling, ages, job
titles, company descriptions, and other facts before submitting stories. Nothing
undermines a reporter's credibility more than errors of fact. In addition,
professors may ask students for sources' contact information to verify
information; students must provide that information upon request.
--Fair use: As a writer you can legally use a limited amount of copyrighted
material for purposes of commentary and criticism, and parody, without first
seeking permission. A book reviewer, for instance, may quote from the text she is
reviewing; a film reviewer may outline the plot of a film to discuss whether the
story holds together; a comedian may conjure up characters from a popular
movie to be able to poke fun at it. Without the protection of fair use, copyright holders could prevent negative reviews or parodies of their work from being
published or broadcast.
Voting, Campaigns and Public Issues
89. Journalists do not take part in politics. While staff members are entitled to vote and to register in party primaries, they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of our news operations. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics.
90. Staff members may not themselves give money to any political candidate or election cause or raise money for one. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributions, any political giving by a staff member would risk feeding a false impression that we are taking sides.
91. No staff member may seek public office anywhere. Seeking or serving in public office violates the professional detachment expected of a journalist. Active participation by one of our staff can sow a suspicion of favoritism in political coverage.
92. Staff members may not march or rally in support of public causes or movements or sign advertisements or petitions taking a position on public issues. They may not lend their names to campaigns, benefit dinners or similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or their newsroom's ability to remain neutral in covering the news. Neighbors and other outsiders commonly see us as representatives of our institution.
93. Staff members may appear from time to time on local or national radio and television programs devoted to public affairs, but they should avoid expressing views that go beyond the news and analysis that could properly appear under their regular bylines. Op-Ed columnists and editorial writers enjoy more leeway than others in speaking publicly, because their business is expressing opinions. They should nevertheless choose carefully the forums in which they appear and protect the impartiality of our journalism.
94. A staff member with doubts about a proposed political activity should consult a responsible manager. These guidelines protect the heart of our mission as journalists. Where the conflict with our impartiality seems minimal, top news executives may consider matters case by case, but they should be exceedingly cautious before permitting an exception.
A7. Advertisers and the Business Side
80. Our company and our local units treat advertisers as fairly and openly as they treat our audiences and news sources. The relationship between the company and advertisers rests on the understanding that news and advertising are separate – that those who deal with either one have distinct obligations and interests, and each group respects the other's professional responsibilities.
81. Journalists should maintain their independence by avoiding discussions of advertising needs, goals and problems except where those are directly related to the business of the newsroom. The news and advertising departments may properly confer on the layout and configuration of a newspaper (though not on specific content) or the timing of special sections, and on the timing and placement of commercials or Web advertising. The departments may also work together in designing new print, broadcast or Web offerings to make sure that the result is viable both journalistically and economically.
82. Advertising and "advertorials" (paid text or paid broadcast content) must not resemble news content. To the maximum extent permitted by local resources, advertorials should be prepared and produced by the business departments, outside the newsroom.
83. When authorized by top newsroom management, members of the news staff may take part in interdepartmental committees on problems that affect several departments, including news. As far as possible, the news representatives should leave advertising issues to colleagues from the business side.
84. From time to time, when authorized by top news executives, journalists may take part in events organized by the company for marketing or promotion or investor presentations. But they should confine their role to discussion of our journalism and avoid the appearance or reality of making a sales presentation.
85. No one in our news departments (except when authorized by top news executives) may exchange information with the advertising department or with advertisers about the timing or content of advertising, the timing or content of news coverage or the assignment of staff or freelance news people.
Moderation; Conservatism; Proportion
Since the public takes from the journalist so great a proportion of the evidence upon which it forms its opinions, obviously that evidence should be of high type. The writer who makes his appeal to the passions rather than to the intellect is too often invalid as a purveyor of evidence because his facts are out of perspective. By improper emphasis, by skillful arrangement, or by devices of typography or rhetoric, he causes the formation in the reader’s mind of unsound opinion. This practice is quite as improper as and frequently is more harmful than actual prevarication. Through this code we desire to take a position against so-called sensational practice by acceptance of the following canons:
a. We will endeavor to avoid the injustice that springs from hasty conclusion in editorial or reportorial or interpretative practice.
b. We will not overplay news or editorial for the sake of effect when such procedure may lead to false deductions in readers’ minds.
c. We will regard accuracy and completeness as more vital than our being the first to print.
d. We will try to observe due proportion in the display of news to the end that inconsequential matter may not seem to take precedence in social importance over news of public significance.
e. We will in all respects in our writing and publishing endeavor to observe moderation and steadiness.
Last year, only 19 percent of people surveyed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism said they believed "all or most" of what they read in their daily newspaper, a drop of 10 points in eight years. Another 40 percent believed only "a good deal" of what they read in the paper.
The loss of public trust should come as no surprise. Journalists have been caught making up stories (Jayson Blair, formerly of The New York Times, and others); rushing stories into the public domain ("Al Gore is our next president...
Situations of conflict and cases of special protection
In society, situations of tension and conflict sometimes arise under the pressure of factors such as terrorism, discrimination against minorities, xenophobia or war. In such circumstances the media have a moral obligation to defend democratic values: respect for human dignity, solving problems by peaceful, tolerant means, and consequently to oppose violence and the language of hatred and confrontation and to reject all discrimination based on culture, sex or religion.
No-one should remain neutral vis-à-vis the defence of democratic values. To that end the media must play a major role in preventing tension and must encourage mutual understanding, tolerance and trust between the various communities in regions where conflict prevails, as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has set out to do with her confidence-building measures in the former Yugoslavia.
Having regard to the very specific influence of the media, notably television, on the attitudes of children and young people, care must be taken not to broadcast programmes, messages or images glorifying violence, exploiting sex and consumerism or using deliberately unsuitable language.
5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. The Founders recognized this to be a rampart against despotism when they ensured an independent press; courts have affirmed it; citizens rely on it. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain.
6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
The news media are the common carriers of public discussion, and this responsibility forms a basis for our special privileges. This discussion serves society best when it is informed by facts rather than prejudice and supposition. It also should strive to fairly represent the varied viewpoints and interests in society, and to place them in context rather than highlight only the conflicting fringes of debate. Accuracy and truthfulness require that as framers of the public discussion we not neglect the points of common ground where problem solving occurs.
7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. For its own survival, it must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need. In short, it must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. The effectiveness of a piece of journalism is measured both by how much a work engages its audience and enlightens it. This means journalists must continually ask what information has most value to citizens and in what form. While journalism should reach beyond such topics as government and public safety, a journalism overwhelmed by trivia and false significance ultimately engenders a trivial society.
8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness. Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map also should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. This is best achieved by newsrooms with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The map is only an analogy; proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance.
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience
Every journalist must have a personal sense of ethics and responsibility--a moral compass. Each of us must be willing, if fairness and accuracy require, to voice differences with our colleagues, whether in the newsroom or the executive suite. News organizations do well to nurture this independence by encouraging individuals to speak their minds. This stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society. It is this diversity of minds and voices, not just numbers, that matters.
1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth
Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context. Journalism does not pursue truth in an absolute or philosophical sense, but it can--and must--pursue it in a practical sense. This "journalistic truth" is a process that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaning, valid for now, subject to further investigation. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built--context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. The truth, over time, emerges from this forum. As citizens encounter an ever greater flow of data, they have more need--not less--for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context.
2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization's credibility, the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers. Commitment to citizens also means journalism should present a representative picture of all constituent groups in society. Ignoring certain citizens has the effect of disenfranchising them. The theory underlying the modern news industry has been the belief that credibility builds a broad and loyal audience, and that economic success follows in turn. In that regard, the business people in a news organization also must nurture--not exploit--their allegiance to the audience ahead of other considerations.
3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
Journalists rely on a professional discipline for verifying information. When the concept of objectivity originally evolved, it did not imply that journalists are free of bias. It called, rather, for a consistent method of testing information--a transparent approach to evidence--precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work. The method is objective, not the journalist. Seeking out multiple witnesses, disclosing as much as possible about sources, or asking various sides for comment, all signal such standards. This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other modes of communication, such as propaganda, fiction or entertainment. But the need for professional method is not always fully recognized or refined. While journalism has developed various techniques for determining facts, for instance, it has done less to develop a system for testing the reliability of journalistic interpretation.
4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
Independence is an underlying requirement of journalism, a cornerstone of its reliability. Independence of spirit and mind, rather than neutrality, is the principle journalists must keep in focus. While editorialists and commentators are not neutral, the source of their credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to inform--not their devotion to a certain group or outcome. In our independence, however, we must avoid any tendency to stray into arrogance, elitism, isolation or nihilism.
The term ethics comes from the Greek word “ethos,” which means character. An ethical person is a person of good character who strives to make “right” choices. Those “right” choices are self-determined by each individual. Ultimately, ethics is voluntary conduct that is self-enforced.
Although ethics is related to law, it differs from law in that law is socially determined and socially enforced. Law tells us what we can do; ethics, what we should do. What is legal may not be what is ethical. Having the right to say something doesn’t make it right to say it.
Ethical choices often are not easy. Dilemmas occur when two “right” moral obligations conflict. For example, suppose a yearbook staff member lies to the editor about why she needs an extension on an important deadline. The editor comes to you, the staff member’s friend, seeking confirmation of the excuse that was given. Two moral virtues collide: loyalty to a friend and commitment to truth. It is time to weigh your values.
Journalism is the profession of writing, editing, and publishing high-frequency periodicals that aim to report and comment on events of public interest, commonly called news, with its frontline practitioners those who gather the data—reporters, photographers, videographers—and those who approve the data and prepare the collection of text and visuals for presentation—editors and producers. The unique role-related responsibility of journalists, which includes all of these practitioners, in democracy is to communicate to citizens information needed for self-governance. Self-governance includes the most mundane of decisions, such as what weather to prepare for when driving to work, and the most complex of choices, such as voting on referendums or candidates for public office.
As a profession journalism is dependent on certain ethical standards to maintain the credibility needed to perform its role-related responsibilities...