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
- “Every journalist must have a personal sense of ethics and responsibility–a moral compass,” according to the Pew Research Center. “Each of us must be willing, if fairness and accuracy require, to voice differences with our colleagues, whether in the newsroom or the executive suite. News organizations do well to nurture this independence by encouraging individuals to speak their minds. This stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society. It is this diversity of minds and voices, not just numbers, that matters.”
- There have been several stories of “public shaming” around individuals, sometimes not even public figures, because of things they tweet. In this case – Justine Sacco, whatever you think of her tweet, is a pariah as a result of 140 characters written before she got on a long plane, according to The New York Times. Even the Gawker writer of the first piece about her racist tweets recognized that things got way outta hand. It’s a new kind of harm that journalists can cause. Especially with non-public figures, the proportionality is often way outta whack – and that is an important ethical element.
SOURCES: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html, http://gawker.com/justine-sacco-is-good-at-her-job-and-how-i-came-to-pea-1653022326 and http://jn8107.wikispaces.com/Proportionality
- The following link is a look at an expose in 1987 about AIDS in the Heartland. The piece from Poynter.com discusses the choices reporters and editors made to minimize harm on several levels.