Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.

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


 

  • 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/

 

Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.

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 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/
  • 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

Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.

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 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

 

  • When a story breaks, it can be difficult to verify the flood of information from on the ground and the Internet. Luckily, a team of journalists from top media organizations created the Verification Handbook, which is edited by Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed. There is also versions in several languages other than English and a new edition for investigative reporting.
    SOURCE: http://verificationhandbook.com/

 

 

Fred Brown on Accuracy, Verification and Sources

There is nothing more important for a journalist, nothing more ethical, than to come as close to “truth” as possible. That’s why this principle is the first in the code of ethics. “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. Accuracy includes quoting exactly what people say about such issues as the age of the Earth. The idea that journalists should take responsibility for the accuracy of their work arises throughout this code, and it’s explained in more detail in the final major section: “Be Accountable and Transparent.”

Another lesson to take away from the basic language of this principle is that the most reliable information is information that you, yourself, have collected from original sources. That includes events that you have witnessed in person. Being an eyewitness can lend richness to a story – at an accident scene, for instance, you may have direct experience with the sights, the sounds, even the smells: A locomotive’s crumpled front end, a tanker truck ripped in half, the smell of gasoline and chlorine in the air. You can also count as original reporting the things that authorities tell you; you may not recognize the smell of chlorine but they will.

The caution implicit here is not to rely on others’ accounts of what happened without double-checking. This means don’t just pick up a few sentences from social media and give that information the same weight as you do other, more reliable information. If you’re using a tweet, for example, say it’s a tweet and identify the source; and if you haven’t verified the information, include as part of your early reporting that it has not yet been checked out.  As stories develop, more information becomes available. But don’t just pass along everything that you hear until you’re satisfied that it’s true – or if you can’t be sure, you must say so.

Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee

Label advocacy and commentary.

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 writes that differentiating between opinions and impartial news coverage is important. “More and more news organizations, though, seem to blur the lines between the two,” he writes.
    SOURCE: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethicscode/?p=158
  • Former New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane took a look at readers’ reactions to the publication’s new review section. Included in the piece is importance of noting that certain people are offering their opinion in the pieces.
    SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/opinion/sunday/03pubed.html

Fred Brown on Labeling Advocacy and Commentary

It’s important to differentiate between opinion and impartial news coverage. More and more news organizations, though, seem to blur the lines between the two. The public has been a bit befuddled for years; many don’t distinguish between a newspaper’s editorials, say, and its regular news reporting. And there’s increasing evidence that members of the public gravitate to news sites with points of view that they agree with. They’re looking for affirmation of what they already believe, rather than new information that might challenge their beliefs. But even advocacy and commentary has an obligation to be accurate. And it needs to be identified, so the public doesn’t confuse it with what should be an impartial, accurate approach to the events of the day.

Fred Brown of the Society’s Ethics Committee

Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.

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


 

  • Mary Ann Weston writes in Nieman Reports about an incident where then-President George W. Bush was asked about the meaning of tribal sovereignty in the 21st Century. While many news organizations reported his answer, they often left out the actual meaning and significance. “Unconsciously journalists often replicate the distorted images and stereotypes of Native peoples that have been part of our culture since the first European contacts with peoples of the Americas,” she writes.
    SOURCE: http://niemanreports.org/articles/attitudes-and-mindsets-hinder-journalists-in/

 

Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.

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 Journalist Toolbox offers several resources to find a wide range of experts from all backgrounds and cultures. As always, it’s up to each journalist to evaluate the credentials of the sources they include in their stories.
    SOURCE: http://www.journaliststoolbox.org/archive/expert-sources/
  • Tracy Everbach also writes for the Society’s Diversity Committee on how to integrate more female sources into news coverage. “As journalists, we don’t think much about the sources we use in stories every day; we just try to cover the news and meet our deadlines,” she writes. “But actually studying the content of newspapers, online news and broadcast news can be eye-opening.”
    SOURCE:http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/diversity/2013/03/19/using-more-women-as-sources/

Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.

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 offers a comprehensive guide on accessing government records. The campaign is called Open Doors and covers what people should know and do about accessing records that belong to the public.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/opendoors.asp

 

  • The Society also offers several resources on its Freedom of Information mission page. The guides and resources include FERPA and other campus records, step-by-step guides and a database of local sunshine committees that work to ensure the public has access to information.
    SOURCE: http://www.spj.org/foi.asp

 

  • The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press includes information on so-called sunshine laws that ensure public business is conducted in the open. The section about sunshine laws are part of a larger resource on the First Amendment.
    SOURCE: https://www.rcfp.org/first-amendment-handbook/sunshine-laws

Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

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