What’s your personal journalism code of ethics?

SPJ’s Code of Ethics is among the most cited codes for journalism professionals, but there are certainly more from other organizations and news outlets. These codes are mostly starting points to guide ethical decision making. Often the gray areas of journalism ethics require your own additional thought process.

So, we ask, what’s your personal code of ethics? Are there more points you use to steer your own work? What, in addition to SPJ’s Code or other institutional rules, do you follow?

This is a question we pose in the upcoming issue of Quill magazine, the annual ethics issue.

Share your personal code of ethics in the comments below, on Facebook, or email to me. Keep it relatively short — 50 to 150 words or so. We’ll highlight some in a future issue and online.

As an example, we asked Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor at Digital First Media and a frequent writer on journalism ethics topics, to give us his personal code of ethics. (Steve has previously written on his blog and for Quill about the need to update the SPJ Code.)

Steve Buttry’s Personal Code of Ethics

A journalist’s job is pretty much like a witness’s oath in court: to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This goes deeper and broader than the call in codes of ethics to seek and report the truth. We must tell the whole truth about our reporting: showing our work and linking to our sources (including the competition). We must tell the whole truth about connections and experiences that might influence our reporting. This means acknowledging that we are humans with biases and opinions, not insisting that we’re objects. We must tell nothing but the truth. This means that we don’t settle for the faux balance of he-said-she-said journalism, but dig for verification and learn who is telling the truth. We must fact-check and call out the liars who too often use media as megaphones.

That’s Steve’s take. What’s yours?

Scott Leadingham is SPJ’s Director of Education and editor of Quill. Interact on Twitter: @scottleadingham

 

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  • Pingback: Journalist’s job is like a witness: Tell the whole truth and nothing but | The Buttry Diary

  • Laura A. Hobson

    To me, a journalism code of ethics involves covering the story accurately with both content and quotes as a neutral observer. It pays to check every fact and quote. Digging for the “real” story behind what a reporter may be told is important. Maintaining professionalism with your sources, colleagues and editors keeps your relationships clean and unbiased. Not accepting gifts is also paramount.

  • Andy Schotz

    I can’t argue with the intent of Steve Buttry’s, but please note that the SPJ Code of Ethics says “Seek Truth and Report it.” It’s intentional that there is no “the” in there. Often, there is no single truth, or the final truth is elusive – we pursue the best obtainable version of the truth.

  • Scott Faldon

    Value accuracy more than primacy. Being last and correct is much better than being first and wrong.

  • http://www.finanz-ratgeber-blog.de/kreditvergleich/online-kredite-im-vergleich/ Www.Finanz-Ratgeber-Blog.De

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!
    It’s the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!


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