Ethical issues• Code of ethics: set of guidelines that helps newspaper staffers make ethical decisions. Addresses: oConflicts of interest oPlagiarism and fabrication oConfidentiality of sources oObscenity and profanity oPhoto ethics oAdvertising oSocial Media Policy• Employee manual posted on the blog• Society of Professional Journalists’ Code oAdapt the Associated Collegiate Press Model Code of Ethics for Collegiate Journalists 1
Ethical issuesConflicts of interest:oYou cannot write the same story for competing mediaoYou cannot accept meals or gifts from sourcesoYou CAN take a role in student government just as long you don’t writeabout issues that come before the board 2
Ethical issuesMore on conflicts of interest:Think about every non-newspaper thing you do and consider how it might put you in aconflict situation. Always err on the side of caution.oYou should not interview relatives, friends or roommates for astory, or professors if you currently have them as an instructor.This could cause you to hesitate to ask challenging questions,or intentionally leave out certain questions so you don’t makeanyone look bad.oYou should avoid socializing with people, students, professorsor staff on the beat that you cover. So, do not attend a party ata source’s home because, in building a personal relationship, itmakes it more difficult for you to treat all sources fairlyoLimit your political activities to the voting booth and do notspeak out publicly on issues or take part in activities or eventsthat could be considered political.oIf you play in the band, you can not cover the band. If you playsports, you cannot cover the sport. Sports reporters should bea journalist, first, not a fan.oWhen you accept a story, think long and hard if you face ANYconflict of interest.oYou should NEVER show a story to a source beforepublication. You CAN read quotes and facts to a source if theyfeel a need to confirm their quotes. You should never promise acopy of the story. 3
Ethical issues Plagiarism and fabrication: oJayson Blair - fabrication oBrown Daily Herald – plagiarizing columns oUniversity News – plagiarizing movie reviews• First offense is cause for termination• Copying other people’s work and making things up is plagiarism Attribute information in stories and oDefinition: From SPJ: actually know the subject matter well so you can explain it in your own words without relying on someone else. Integrity and credibility, two of the most important values in journalism, demand that all media outlets be clear about the source of stories they did not produce. oHow to avoid temptations: oFor your stories, you must submit a source list that includes phone numbers or email addresses for all people interviewed, website addresses for online sources, and citations for all books and articles used for research. 4
Ethical issues Obscenity and profanity: oThere is never a good reason to print vulgar language just to get a reaction. The staff should be sure that the words are a justifiable part of the story. oObscenity or profanity must give added insight into the character of the speaker. oThe full word is not printed. The first letters are printed and the rest of the word is replaced by dashes (-). oWords such as hell, damn, bitch are not considered obscene. These 7 are NEVER allowed: • Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits oSexually explicit material: case by case; show good taste • Pierced nipple example for extreme body piercing• Interviewing victims of tragedy oOne of the best lessons you can get for a career as a reporter: oYou’re doing a service for your readers and the people touched by the tragedy oYou can tell the story in a way that is constructive oYou cant avoid intruding on someone in grief because you have to get your story written. Just be sensitive and respectful in your approach. o“I’m sorry for your loss,” is the ONLY way to start the conversation. oDon’t assume anyone wants or does not want to talk. Sometimes they are eager to share. oIf not, be respectful and polite. Leave your number or a business card. Maybe they will change their mind and you want them to remember YOU first. oMake sure the person understands the terms: “This is for a story I’m writing for the newspaper where your name will appear. oIMPORTANT: Pay attention to your emotions during the 5 interview and let your reactions inform your reporting (while
Ethical issues Covering suicide: oWhether or how to? oWe should not cover suicide unless it causes a public spectacle; it’s committed in connection with a homicide, kidnapping or serious crime; it involves a public figure.• Suicides of a member of the campus community impacts all of us oThird leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds after accidents and homicides oWe don’t want to start a suicide contagion oAvoid speculating the motivation for the suicide oConsider adding trends in rates, myths about suicide, warning signs or other actions that people can take to prevent suicide 6
Ethical issues Confidential Sources oAnonymous or unnamed sources chip away at the credibility of a newspaper oBut some stories like Watergate would never be told unless a reporter protected a source’s identity• You have to balance the importance of the information against the risk to the source oOften, there’s no compelling reason to protect the source or use the quote oA reporter should not promise confidentiality to a source without the editor’s permission. You should urge the source to allow an attribution. oAnonymous sources will be used if the story is of compelling or vital interest and only as a last resort. oConfidentiality will be granted only where there is a danger of physical, emotional or financial harm if the source goes on record. The editor must know the name and consequences surrounding the request for confidentiality even though the information is being withheld from print. 7
Ethical issues o If a source requests confidentiality:• Evaluate the info: is it credible? Vital? Could you get this information from another source who would be named?• Talk to your source: ask what the consequences will be. Explain the news policy. Try to convince!• Find other sources: Get someone else!• Talk to your editor: Discuss the pros and cons of using an anonymous source o If you decide to go with the anonymity, briefly explain in the article why you are protecting the source’s identity. o Be on the lookout for sensitive material that may be offensive or disturbing to people o News Watch Diversity Style Guide – a diverse staff helps a newspaper cover a multicultural community o Reach out with campus and community groups o Ask hard questions! Is it fair? Will these words hurt people? • Case study • http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/ethics/ • Group decision making • Warn the reader • Be open to criticisms and respond to letters • If we make a mistake, we will take responsibility • But we will still stand by our decisions and learn from our mistakes 8
o Ethics Audit Ethical issueso Collect demographic information about the campus: racial, ethnic, gender compositions of students and faculty; age of students; numbers of part- and full- time students and facultyo Then study several issues of the paper and determine if the men and women appearing as subjects in the stories or photos are representative of campus? What is the racial balance? What words are being used to describe people? Who is missing from the coverage? 9
Ethical issues• Social media policies• BEST BUY: The company does not want information shared that isn’t meant to be public.• •Tweeters cannot share Best Buy logos and other items related to the company. (being too cautious? I guess that depends on the industry you are in. For a big brand like Best Buy, its understandable.)• •Best Buy wants each employee to differentiate themselves and state their tweets and posts are theirs -- and theirs alone -- and not associated with Best Buy. (If an employee crosses a line, Best Buy wont experience such harsh brand backlash.)• IBM: Clear cut guidelines regarding what cannot be shared and how the company communicates.• However, IBM also encourages “IBMers” to express themselves, let their voice shine, and demonstrate their skills and creativity on social media.• Employees are encouraged to inspire discourse and share ideas via blogging and social media.• (blog.hubspot.com: of 5 Noteworthy Examples of Corporate Social Media Policies) 10
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