Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


 

 

Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • Journalists often encounter problems when covering breaking news. In many developing situations, journalists need to update and correct information over a short period of time. The first step is to get the facts correct the first time around. Please see the section on speed and accuracy.
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethicscode/?p=119

 

  • Anthony De Rosa offers several suggestions in a Los Angeles Times editorial on how news organizations can responsibly update and correct stories in digital formats. “Digital publishing has made it possible for editors not only to scrub or enhance stories as they develop but also to pull back the curtain — to make sure readers see and understand what they’ve done,” he writes.
    SOURCE: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-derosa-corrections-online-20150825-story.html

 

 

 

  • Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee writes that there is nothing more important for a journalist than to come as close to the “truth” as possible. “‘Truth’ may be subject to interpretation – people have different ideas about the truth of almost everything, including the age of the Earth – but accuracy is less debatable,” he writes.
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethicscode/?p=158

Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


 

  • The American Society of Magazine Editors offers some advice on distinguishing editorial content from advertising. “Regardless of platform or format, the difference between editorial content and marketing messages should be clear to the average reader,” they write.
    SOURCE: http://www.magazine.org/asme/editorial-guidelines

Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee offers advice and pointers to journalists about gifts and political involvement. “‘Refuse’ may be a little harsh; ‘decline’ suggests a more polite approach to avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest,” he writes. “This is the starting point for many employers’ codes of ethics, and those codes are more specific and detailed about what news employees can and can’t do.”
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethicscode/?p=180

 

  • The Society’s Ethics Committee examines the importance of credibility to journalists in a position paper. “Credibility is at the heart of journalism,” the Committee writes. “The audience must believe the information it is receiving is accurate, the editorial judgments based on principles of fairness and balance.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-accountability.asp

 

  • Journalists often wonder whether they are allowed to become involved with any political activities or movements. The Society’s Ethics Committee offers some suggestions in a position paper, but discourages any involvement. “Don’t get involved,” the Committee writes. “Don’t contribute money, don’t work in a campaign, don’t lobby, and especially, don’t run for office yourself.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-politics.asp

 

  • Fred Brown and Nerissa Young examine for the Society’s Ethics Committee whether journalists can be involved in social movements. In this case study, they look at whether a journalist should be allowed to take part in a parade supporting LGBT rights.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs16.asp

 

  • Sometimes the government asks journalists to withhold certain information for various purposes, including national security. In this case study, the Society’s Ethics Committee looks at whether journalists should cooperate with government officials to withhold certain information from publication.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs1.asp

 

 

  • NPR‘s Ethics Handbook offers some guidelines on avoiding conflicts of interest, including when a journalist’s spouse becomes involved with politics. “To secure the public’s trust, we must make it clear that our primary allegiance is to the public,” NPR advises. “Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility.”
    SOURCE: http://ethics.npr.org/category/e-independence/

 

 

  • RTDNA compiled a comprehensive list of questions journalists should ask themselves to avoid conflicts of interest. “The act of reporting and presenting the news often puts journalists in the position of working very closely with sources,” RTDNA writes. “This is where conflicts of interest can occur.”
    SOURCE: http://www.rtdna.org/content/guidelines_for_avoiding_conflict_of_interest

Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • So-called checkbook journalism threatens to undermine the credibility of journalism and journalists, according to a position paper by the Society’s Ethics Committee. Furthermore, checkbook journalism puts news in the hands of the highest bidder.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-cbj.asp

 

 

  • Andy Schotz writes for the Society’s Ethics Committee blog about ABC’s payment of $200,000 to the family of a woman accused of murdering her daughter. “Not only is it highly questionable ethically to pay a source while covering her, ABC compounded the matter by keeping it quiet for two years and continuing to report on the case,” he writes.
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2010/06/22/yet-again-abc-has-disclosure-problems/

Fred Brown on Gifts and Political Involvement

“Refuse” may be a little harsh; “decline” suggests a more polite approach to avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest. This is the starting point for many employers’ codes of ethics, and those codes are more specific and detailed about what news employees can and can’t do. Around the middle of the last century, people in news management became concerned that promoters and activists sought to win over reporters with everything from free bourbon to wheels of cheese. Eventually, ethical newsroom managers sought to codify rules to discourage this sort of thing.

When “refusing” (or “declining”) proffered perquisites, don’t be rude or snotty about it; just say politely that, as a responsible journalist, you are expected to be impartial and not beholden in any way to the people you cover. One example of how far we are removed from the freebie customs of the past is that today, if you’re going to follow a presidential contender across country, your news organization is going to have to pay the equivalent of a first-class fare.

And, speaking of politics, ethical journalists are expected to give up some things that every other citizen is entitled to do. Journalists may have some unique privileges, such as shield laws, but most news organizations discourage their employees – especially those who appear on air or in print – from running for public office. Nor should they participate in protest marches or advocacy demonstrations. The New York Times has a very strict policy about this, introduced with this unequivocal statement:  “Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics.” Yes, you can vote, but avoid any more partisan activity that might raise questions about your professional impartiality. In other words, don’t take sides on an issue you’re covering. Even opinion journalists, who are expected to proclaim what’s best for the future of humanity, are told they shouldn’t actively  work on campaigns.

Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee

Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee offers advice and pointers to journalists about gifts and political involvement. “‘Refuse’ may be a little harsh; ‘decline’ suggests a more polite approach to avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest,” he writes. “This is the starting point for many employers’ codes of ethics, and those codes are more specific and detailed about what news employees can and can’t do.”
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethicscode/?p=180

 

  • The Society’s Ethics Committee examines the importance of credibility to journalists in a position paper. “Credibility is at the heart of journalism,” the Committee writes. “The audience must believe the information it is receiving is accurate, the editorial judgments based on principles of fairness and balance.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-accountability.asp

 

  • Journalists often wonder whether they are allowed to become involved with any political activities or movements. The Society’s Ethics Committee offers some suggestions in a position paper, but discourages any involvement. “Don’t get involved,” the Committee writes. “Don’t contribute money, don’t work in a campaign, don’t lobby, and especially, don’t run for office yourself.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-politics.asp

 

  • Fred Brown and Nerissa Young examine for the Society’s Ethics Committee whether journalists can be involved in social movements. In this case study, they look at whether a journalist should be allowed to take part in a parade supporting LGBT rights.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs16.asp

 

  • Sometimes the government asks journalists to withhold certain information for various purposes, including national security. In this case study, the Society’s Ethics Committee looks at whether journalists should cooperate with government officials to withhold certain information from publication.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs1.asp

 

 

  • NPR‘s Ethics Handbook offers some guidelines on avoiding conflicts of interest, including when a journalist’s spouse becomes involved with politics. “To secure the public’s trust, we must make it clear that our primary allegiance is to the public,” NPR advises. “Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility.”
    SOURCE: http://ethics.npr.org/category/e-independence/

 

 

  • RTDNA compiled a comprehensive list of questions journalists should ask themselves to avoid conflicts of interest. “The act of reporting and presenting the news often puts journalists in the position of working very closely with sources,” RTDNA writes. “This is where conflicts of interest can occur.”
    SOURCE: http://www.rtdna.org/content/guidelines_for_avoiding_conflict_of_interest

Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • The Society’s Ethics Committee examines the importance of credibility to journalists in a position paper. “Credibility is at the heart of journalism,” the Committee writes. “The audience must believe the information it is receiving is accurate, the editorial judgments based on principles of fairness and balance.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-accountability.asp

 

  • Journalists often wonder whether they are allowed to become involved with any political activities or movements. The Society’s Ethics Committee offers some suggestions in a position paper, but discourages any involvement. “Don’t get involved,” the Committee writes. “Don’t contribute money, don’t work in a campaign, don’t lobby, and especially, don’t run for office yourself.”
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-politics.asp

 

  • Fred Brown and Nerissa Young examine for the Society’s Ethics Committee whether journalists can be involved in social movements. In this case study, they look at whether a journalist should be allowed to take part in a parade supporting LGBT rights.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs16.asp

 

  • Sometimes the government asks journalists to withhold certain information for various purposes, including national security. In this case study, the Society’s Ethics Committee looks at whether journalists should cooperate with government officials to withhold certain information from publication.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs1.asp

 

 

  • NPR‘s Ethics Handbook offers some guidelines on avoiding conflicts of interest, including when a journalist’s spouse becomes involved with politics. “To secure the public’s trust, we must make it clear that our primary allegiance is to the public,” NPR advises. “Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility.”
    SOURCE: http://ethics.npr.org/category/e-independence/

 

 

  • RTDNA compiled a comprehensive list of questions journalists should ask themselves to avoid conflicts of interest. “The act of reporting and presenting the news often puts journalists in the position of working very closely with sources,” RTDNA writes. “This is where conflicts of interest can occur.”
    SOURCE: http://www.rtdna.org/content/guidelines_for_avoiding_conflict_of_interest

Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • Journalists carry the responsibility of what their readers, viewers and listeners are and are not exposed to in reports. The Society’s Ethics Committee tackled many questions related to grief, tragedy and victims in a previous position paper.
    SOURCE: https://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-grief.asp

 

  • In a case study for the Society’s Ethics Committee, the question of publishing offensive images is examines. For example, should cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which some people may find offensive, be published?
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/ecs2.asp

 

  • While it’s a unique case, The Washington Post – in conjunction with The New York Times – decided to publish a 35,000-word supplement written by Ted Kaczynski, who was known as the Unabomber. Kaczynski killed three people over two decades by planting or mailing bombs. The editorial leadership of the Post and Times received the anonymous manifesto with a note that promised to stop the killings if it was printed. The decision to publish the lengthy document eventually led to Kaczynski’s capture. A story in the Post 20 years after the manifesto’s publication shines light on the decision to publish this kind of document, which is a common part of mass or public killings. In this case, the promise to stop the killings and the possibility to capture the unknown bomber tipped the scales in favor of publication.
    SOURCE:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-publishing-a-35000-word-manifesto-led-to-the-unabomber/2015/09/18/e55229e0-5cac-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html

 

  • Amber Orand and Sara Stone examine for the Society’s Ethics Committee what to do about naming the possible victims of sex crimes. Also, what should journalists do when people, whose names are widely used, later turn out to be the victims of sex crimes?
    SOURCE:
    http://www.spj.org/ecs11.asp

 

  • FiveThirtyEight examines the urge of many people – including health professionals – to diagnose mental illnesses in public figures without a proper examination.
    SOURCE: http://53eig.ht/2uFI80A

 

  • Journalists and news organizations often avoid reporting on suicide, but – like other public health issues – blindly ignoring the topic is irresponsible. The Society’s ethics committee is currently working on a document to guide journalist reporting on suicide, but there are already several other resource available to educate jouranlists. The first resource – known as Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide – comes from several authoritative voices on mental health. The San Diego Society of Professional Journalists also offers quality resources on its website about mental health reporting. Additionally, Andy Schotz provided a brief overview in the Society’s Quill about why it’s necessary for journalist to responsibly report on suicides.
    SOURCE: http://reportingonsuicide.org/
    SOURCE: http://spjsandiego.org/resources-for-journalists/reporting-on-suicide-and-mental-illness/
    SOURCE: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/spj/quill0108/index.php?startid=28

Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.

The committee that revised the Society’s Code of Ethics felt the document’s tenets and underlying principles apply to all journalism regardless of how it’s ultimately presented. Still, the committee knew people interested in ethical journalism may benefit from additional guidance from the Society and other people and organizations.
Below are several resources that the Society’s ethics committee compiled to help people with day-to-day decisions. These resources are not formally part of the Code. Also, these lists will grow and change as more resources are found, or as resources become obsolete.

For those people who still have questions, please email the Society’s Ethics Hotline: ethics@spj.org


  • Journalists carry the responsibility of what their readers, viewers and listeners are and are not exposed to in reports. The Society’s Ethics Committee tackled many questions related to grief, tragedy and victims in a previous position paper.
    SOURCE: https://www.spj.org/ethics-papers-grief.asp

 

 

  • Andrew Seaman writes for the Society’s Ethics Committee blog about a case when a reporter posted a photograph of a police report to Twitter with a person’s address and telephone numbers. “As children learn, sharing is caring, but we should care about what we share,” he writes.
    SOURCE:
     http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/10/05/caring-about-sharing/

 

  • In a post to the Society’s Ethics Committee blog, Andrew Seaman examines the line journalists walk between harm and serving the greater good. “A primary care doctor may prescribe medicine that causes side effects to control an even worse condition,” he writes. “Likewise, journalists may cause disruption in families, communities or countries to achieve their mission.”
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2015/05/01/ethics-week-2015-like-a-surgeon/