In this week’s edition of What The Community Has To Say, Erin Gibson talks about the important questions journalists face and how journalists have an ethical code. This segment aired on Monday, April 2nd.
When journalism students take their first reporting class they are introduced to two of the most important questions journalists face:
What can we report?
And what should we report?
The first question requires knowing the laws that regulate speech and access to information. That includes the First Amendment, open meeting laws, and open records laws.
The second question – what should we report – is an ethical one.
I bring it up to inform you, the viewer, that journalists do have ethical codes.
I also bring it up to remind journalists to always think about the code when making a reporting decision.
The code of ethics I frequently reference comes from the Society of Professional Journalists.
It has four pillars. I’ll quote them directly from the SPJ website:
One – Seek truth and report it.
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Two – Minimize harm.
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
Three – Act Independently.
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
And four – Be transparent and accountable.
Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
News producers should strive every day to live up to these principles, and news consumers should demand that they do.
I’m Erin Gibson, and that’s what I have to say.