Journalism ethics
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Journalism ethics



A short presentation on Journalism Ethics for Prof. Holly Johnson's Journalism 1 and 2 students at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.

A short presentation on Journalism Ethics for Prof. Holly Johnson's Journalism 1 and 2 students at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.



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  • Are morals the same everywhere? Can the same act be moral or immoral depending on the circumstances? Do morals change over time? Where do morals come from?
  • Can you think of a situation where something is ethical but is illegal? (Parking over meter time vs. parking in a handicapped spot). Journalism example: legal to print name of minor child hit in car accident, but not necessarily ethical. Legal to badger a victim of a traumatic crime for info, but not ethical.

Journalism ethics Journalism ethics Presentation Transcript

  • in JournalismProf. Holly Johnson
  • What are ethics?
  • The word “ethics” refers to theapplication of moral principals in theway that we conduct our individual or group behavior.
  • Morals are the principals of right andwrong behavior that are agreed uponby society.Examples of morals: • Don’t lie • Don’t cheat • Don’t hurt others • Don’t steal
  • Where do morals come from?Although morals are generally seen as separate fromreligion, most religions have strict codes of moralbehavior. The morals we share as a society are oftenbased on the moral teachings originally found inreligion. Fortunately most religions and societies holdsimilar morals, so what is moral in one country or toone religion is generally the same elsewhere.
  • Journalists must obey the law  No libel  No invasion of privacy  No copyright infringement  No advocating illegal behavior  No depiction of sexually explicit acts  No trespassing
  • Ethics and the LawMany laws are based on ethicalprinciples, which are in turn based onmorals.If something is unethical it is usuallyillegal.But not everything that is illegal isunethical.
  • How are journalistic ethics different from any other ethics?
  • How it looks is as important as how it is.In journalism your readers’ confidence will erode if you appear to bebehaving unethically, even if you didn’t actually do anything wrong. This isn’t what it looks like!
  • VOICE rules
  • You have to be accurate.You must double check all stats, titles, names and other facts in your articles. Factsfrom one source have to be corroborated by other sources. When you get a factwrong, you must run a correction in the next issue and fix it online immediately.
  • No• You can’t report on a team or club or event in which you currently or have ever participated.• You can’t report on a place where you have ever worked.• You can’t engage in any activity on which you are reporting (i.e. dancing with a stripper at a XXX convention, carrying a picket sign at an Occupy rally etc.).• You can’t report on a business or event run by a friend or family member.When there is even a remote relationship between the reporter and the story, it must be fully disclosed directly within the text of the article.
  • No libel, or you will get sued.Libel = The crime of writing and printing false spokenstatements that are damaging to a person’s reputation. Jones beds donkey! Professor Pete Jones slept with a large, hairy donkey in the testing center on the MCCC West Windsor campus. ILLEGAL Speaker has no proof and writes it so many can read.
  • News reporting must be fair and balanced.Keep an open mind and put aside pre-conceptions before you begin reporting. Peoplemust be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Give all sides a chance to comment.
  • Get your terms right!The College Voice follows the Associated Press stylebook in all references to race,ethnicity, sexual orientation and national origin. Such language reflects thatconventionally considered most accurate, unbiased and representative. Negro or African-American? Illegal Immigrant or undocumented? Transgendered? Transvestite? Transsexual? Tranny? Homo? LGBTQRSTUV? Latino? Hispanic? Mexican? Terrorist? Freedom fighter? Someone from Laos is a ??? Cop or law enforcement agent?
  • 1. No gifts. THE FINE PRINT: Reporters may not accept gifts, favors, free travel, special treatment or privileges as these may compromise their reporting or have the appearance of favoritism that will erode the trust of the readership. The sole exception to this is to acceptance of event tickets. As is standard in the journalism industry, when an event planner wants to ensure that a particular event receives coverage in the College Voice, they should contact the College Voice in advance to request coverage and should provide complimentary tickets or an entrance pass for press. The provision of tickets does not ensure a “positive” article.
  • 2. No abuse of power. THE FINE PRINT:Hey, I’m a reporter. I Use of a position with The College know people. I can VOICE to gain personal advantage or to help you out if you make inquiries for any other purpose give me some free than work for The College Voice is dim sum. strictly prohibited.
  • 3. No insider trading. So I’m reporting on a THE FINE PRINT: secret corporate plan to  Staff members are not permitted toraise Steve Jobs from the use information not yet madedead. Maybe I should just available to the public for personalbuy a few shares of Apple gain. stock while I’m thinking of it. iAlive
  • 4. No abuse of VOICE equipment. Dalton won’t mind if I just THE FINE PRINT: take this camera home and  Staff members may not use College take a few photos of VOICE equipment for any purpose Muff Muff, Diesel and Mr. other than work for The College Frinky in their new outfits. VOICE.
  • 5. No threatening people to get info. THE FINE PRINT: If you don’t tell me how  Staff members may not threaten many calories are in these sources or promise favorable MCCC burgers, I’ll bust your coverage or money in exchange for kneecaps. information.
  • 6. You must tell people you’re a reporter. THE FINE PRINT: So, President Donohue, have  Staff members must fully disclose you ever used drugs while their identity to all sources. on the job? Why do I ask? Oh, no reason. Just curious.
  • 7. You must ask to record. Oh, no officer Flaherty. I’m THE FINE PRINT: not wearing a wire. That’s  Staff members must ask sources just…uh…my ID tag?! before recording conversations.
  • 8. No serving on SGA or acceptingawards from other clubs we report on. Hey, College VOICE staff, THE FINE PRINT: don’t you want to be on SGA with us and report on  Involvement in student politics, all the great things we holding student government office do??!! and service in college organizations should be avoided if it compromises or appears to compromise the integrity of student journalists.  The VOICE, its reporters and advisers may not receive awards from any MCCC campus group or organization in recognition of its coverage if such an award might create a real or perceived conflict of interest.
  • 9. No printing press releases without substantiation. Hey, look guys. The PR office THE FINE PRINT: just sent us this press release  No publishing press releases about how all MCCC students without substantiation of their claims are going to get free cars this and evaluation of their news value. semester. Let’s just publish it as is, what do you think??!!
  • 10. No plagiarism. No cheating. THE FINE PRINT:  Plagiarism is an ultimate Hey, I didn’t have time to get a quote from a student for my violation of trust and credibility article. How about I just make with our readership and will not up a quote and attribute it to be tolerated at The College some student I make up, or VOICE. Any and all material say it’s an anonymous taken from another source must source? be appropriately cited and attributed, including: -Information from press releases -Little-known facts from authoritative sources -Unique stylistic traits, devices or wording -Both widely available news and news not widely available obtained from other sources -Information from another media outlet’s exclusive story or scoop -Information obtained through the efforts of another party or source  Any staffer who is found to have committed an academic integrity violation will be dismissed from The College VOICE.
  • Stop + Review long term goals Think Determine the factsConsider the Consider the options consequencesChoose Monitor results + ACT
  • Step 1 - Stop and ThinkSome ethical decisions must be made very quickly, but if you have any time to stop and think, DO IT!
  • Step 2 - Review Long-Term GoalsInstant gratification often leads to unethical decisions. If your long term goals include not going to jail, being someone people respect, and being able to sleep well at night, then remind yourself that it’s worth it to make ethical decisions!
  • Step 3 - Determine the FactsIn the workplace, you may find someone else is cheating orbehaving unethically and feel obligated to turn them in. Youcannot act on suspicion alone! You must have all the facts.
  • Step 4 - Consider the Options Do nothing Gather more info Do something Doing nothing can sometimes be just as dangerous asdoing something. As for doing the right thing, you may have several options to choose from and it can be hard to know which one is best. Look at the merits of all decisions.
  • Step 5 - Consider the ConsequencesIf any of the items on your list of possible actions would require lying, cheating, stealing, hurting others, or being disrespectful,cross it off the list. Ask yourself how you’d feel if everyone knew your decision; a decision that only looks good if no one else knows about it, is always the wrong choice.
  • Step 6 - Choose Eventually you will have to choose a course of action, andyou alone will be responsible for the outcome, but it helps to find a mentor, someone with good character, who can help you choose wisely. Talk to people you respect and trust before making your decision.
  • Step 7 - Monitor Results Because we often must act with imperfect knowledge of what mayhappen as a consequence of our actions, some decisions may turn out badly.An ethical person monitors his or her decisions, sees where they went wrong, and strives to correct errors and do better in the future.
  • Coming soon…ETHICS outside of the office: what do I do now?