Skip to Main Content
Research Guides

Communication Studies: Journalism Ethics & Standards

This subject guide is a starting point for communication-related research, including mass media, speech communication, and more.

SPJ Code of Ethics

SPJ Code of Ethics

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable and Transparent

Journalism Ethics & Standards

  • Journalism ethics and standards are principles of good practice.  
  • Professional journalism associations, individual news organizations, and journalists themselves often have their own "code of ethics"; however, most share these basic principles:  truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability.
  • Many journalists also abide by the principle of "limitation of harm" which means that they have a responsibility to not harm others while reporting a story.  This is one major difference between professional journalists reporting for "reputable" news organizations as opposed to fringe news sources and fake news creators.   
  • When evaluating a news organization, read its statement or code of ethics.  What does it tell you if the organization does not publish its' ethics for all to access?
  • Simply use your favorite search engine to search for the name of a news source and ethics.  Here are a few for starters:


Additional Resources

Book Sampler

These are a sampling of books on the journalism ethics. To find additional books use UW Libraries Search