Ethics in journalism

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A brief overview of ethical questions faced by working journalists and how to handle them.

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Ethics in journalism

  1. 1. Ethics in journalism 2017 The fundamentals of media credibility
  2. 2. Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp and Linked from class website
  3. 3. 1. Don’t make things up • The most basic rule in journalism
  4. 4. 1. Don’t make things up • The most basic rule in journalism • Mike Barnicle, Patricia Smith, Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, and on and on and on
  5. 5. 1. Don’t make things up • The most basic rule in journalism • Mike Barnicle, Patricia Smith, Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, and on and on and on • Non-fiction is the heart and soul of what we do
  6. 6. 1a. Don’t plagiarize • Along with fabrication, one of the two capital offenses in journalism
  7. 7. 1a. Don’t plagiarize • Along with fabrication, one of the two capital offenses in journalism • Easier to get caught than ever before because of Google and LexisNexis
  8. 8. 1a. Don’t plagiarize • Along with fabrication, one of the two capital offenses in journalism • Easier to get caught than ever before because of Google and LexisNexis • The “Romenesko effect”
  9. 9. 1a. Don’t plagiarize • Along with fabrication, one of the two capital offenses in journalism • Easier to get caught than ever before because of Google and LexisNexis • The “Romenesko effect” • Background doesn’t have to be attributed — but what is background?
  10. 10. 3. Exact quotes are exact quotes • What’s inside quotation marks is exactly what the person said
  11. 11. 3. Exact quotes are exact quotes • What’s inside quotation marks is exactly what the person said • Don’t use quotation marks for indirect quotes
  12. 12. 3. Exact quotes are exact quotes • What’s inside quotation marks is exactly what the person said • Don’t use quotation marks for indirect quotes • Use fragmentary quotes when you only get a few pithy comments
  13. 13. 4. Avoid conflicts of interest • Do not quote your family members unless you’re writing a personal essay
  14. 14. 4. Avoid conflicts of interest • Do not quote your family members unless you’re writing a personal essay • Do not report on story in which you or family members are directly involved
  15. 15. 4. Avoid conflicts of interest • Do not quote your family members unless you’re writing a personal essay • Do not report on story in which you or family members are directly involved • Do not accept gifts from sources
  16. 16. 5. Be fair and neutral • Seek out the truth and report all sides
  17. 17. 5. Be fair and neutral • Seek out the truth and report all sides • Always contact someone who is being criticized by others
  18. 18. 5. Be fair and neutral • Seek out the truth and report all sides • Always contact someone who is being criticized by others • Write in the “objective” voice — keep your opinion to yourself
  19. 19. 6. Identify yourself • Always tell a potential source that you’re a reporter working on a story
  20. 20. 6. Identify yourself • Always tell a potential source that you’re a reporter working on a story • Never turn a conversation into an interview without permission
  21. 21. 6. Identify yourself • Always tell a potential source that you’re a reporter working on a story • Never turn a conversation into an interview without permission • Undercover assignments must be approved at the highest level
  22. 22. 7. Anonymous sources • Urge them to go on the record; use them as little as possible
  23. 23. 7. Anonymous sources • Urge them to go on the record; use them as little as possible • Your editor has a right to know your source’s identity
  24. 24. 7. Anonymous sources • Urge them to go on the record; use them as little as possible • Your editor has a right to know your source’s identity • You are bound by the promise you made
  25. 25. 7. Anonymous sources • Urge them to go on the record; use them as little as possible • Your editor has a right to know your source’s identity • You are bound by the promise you made • Ex post facto requests to go off the record must be handled with care
  26. 26. 8. Recorder protocol • Massachusetts is a two-party state
  27. 27. 8. Recorder protocol • Massachusetts is a two-party state • First thing we should hear is, “I’ve just turned on the recorder”
  28. 28. 8. Recorder protocol • Massachusetts is a two-party state • First thing we should hear is, “I’ve just turned on the recorder” • Recording is becoming more important in online journalism
  29. 29. 9. Admit your mistakes • We all make them
  30. 30. 9. Admit your mistakes • We all make them • Prompt and willing correction can help avoid libel suit
  31. 31. 9. Admit your mistakes • We all make them • Prompt and willing correction can help avoid libel suit • Adds to media credibility
  32. 32. 10. Have fun!

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