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: firstname.lastname@example.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.
- Al Tompkins writes on Poynter about a New York newspaper that published the names and addresses of people who had obtained gun permits. The publishing came shortly after dozens of children and several school officials were killed in a mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. “The problem is that the paper was not aggressive enough in its reporting to justify invading the privacy of people who legally own handguns in two counties it serves,” he writes.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Paul Fletcher writes for the Society’s Ethics Committee blog that journalists must balance harm especially when it comes to private individuals. “A journalist must weigh the consequences of publishing that information, all in a way that seeks to minimize harm,” he writes.
- The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press takes a look at the legal concerns journalists must be aware of when they start looking into people’s private lives. “Because intrusion is based on offensive prying and not the publication of offensive material, you may be liable for intrusion regardless of what you learned through the intrusive act and whether you published the information,” they write.