Skip to Main Content
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:
Organizations promoting journalism standards
Accuracy in Media
"...a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record staright on important issues that have received slanted coverage."
Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma
"...a global network of journalists, journalism educators and health professionals dedicated to improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy. The Center also addresses the consequences of such coverage for those working in journalism."
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
"...the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986."
Poynter Institute - Ethics
Includes columns and stories about journalism ethics, guiding principals, ethics tipc sheets, ethics case studies, and more.
Journals & Magazines that Cover Ethics-Related Topics
These are a sampling of books on the journalism ethics. To find additional books use UW Libraries Search.
The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered by This collection of original essays brings a dramatically different perspective to bear on the contemporary 'crisis of journalism'. Rather than seeing technological and economic change as the primary causes of current anxieties, The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered draws attention to the role played by the cultural commitments of journalism itself. Linking these professional ethics to the democratic aspirations of the broader societies in which journalists ply their craft, it examines how the new technologies are being shaped to sustain value commitments rather than undermining them. Recent technological change and the economic upheaval it has produced are coded by social meanings. It is this cultural framework that actually transforms these 'objective' changes into a crisis. The book argues that cultural codes not only trigger sharp anxiety about technological and economic changes, but provide pathways to control them, so that the democratic practices of independent journalism can be sustained in new forms.
Ethical Reporting of Sensitive Topics by Ethical Reporting of Sensitive Topics explores the underlying complexities that journalists may face when covering difficult news stories. Reporting on issues such as suicide, sexual abuse, or migration is a skill that is often glossed over in a journalist's education. By combining theory and practice, this collection will correct this oversight and give journalists the expertise and understanding to report on these subjects responsibly and ethically. Contributors to this volume are an international group of journalists-turned- academics, who share their first-hand experiences and unique professional insight into best ethical journalistic practice for reporting on sensitive topics. Drawing from a range of case studies, contributors discuss the most appropriate approach to, for example, describing a shooter who has killed a group of schoolchildren or interviewing someone who has lost everything in a natural disaster. Readers are invited to consider factors which have the potential to influence the reporting of these sorts of topics, including bias, sensationalism, conflict of interest, grief, vulnerability, and ignorance of one's own privilege. Ethical Reporting of Sensitive Topics aims to support all journalists, from students of journalism and individuals encountering a newsroom for the first time, to those veteran journalists or specialist journalists who seek to better their reporting skills.
Global Media Ethics by Global Media Ethics is the first comprehensive cross-cultural exploration of the conceptual and practical issues facing media ethics in a global world. A team of leading journalism experts investigate the impact of major global trends on responsible journalism. The first full-length, truly global textbook on media ethics Explores how current global changes in media promote and inhibit responsible journalism Includes relevant and timely ethical discussions based on major trends in journalism and global media Questions existing frameworks in Media Ethics in light of the impact of global media Contributors are leading experts in global journalism and communication
The Invention of Journalism Ethics by Does objectivity exist in the news media? In The Invention of Journalism Ethics, Stephen Ward argues that given the current emphasis on interpretation, analysis, and perspective, journalists and the public need a new theory of objectivity. He explores the varied ethical assertions of journalists over the past few centuries, focusing on the changing relationship between journalist and audience. This historical analysis leads to an innovative theory of pragmatic objectivity that enables journalists and the public to recognize and avoid biased and unbalanced reporting. Ward convincingly demonstrates that journalistic objectivity is not a set of absolute standards but the same fallible but reasonable objectivity used for making decisions in other professions and public institutions. Considered a classic in the field since its first publication in 2004, this second edition includes new chapters that bring the book up to speed with journalism ethics in the twenty-first century by focusing on the growing dominance of online journalism and calling for a radical approach to journalism ethics reform. Ward also addresses important developments that have occurred in the last decade, including the emergence of digital journalism ethics and global journalism ethics.
Journalism's Ethical Progression by Using case studies and historical analysis, this book traces changes in ways that journalists understood their ethical responsibilities during the pre-internet twentieth century. Each chapter in this book explores a historical development in the evolution of journalists' perceptions of their role as professionals.
Journalism and Truth in an Age of Social Media by Truth qualities of journalism are under intense scrutiny in today's world. Journalistic scandals have eroded public confidence in mainstream media while pioneering news media compete to satisfy the public's appetite for news. Still worse is the specter of "fake news" that looms over media and political systems that underpin everything from social stability to global governance. This volume aims to illuminate the contentious media landscape to help journalism students, scholars, and professionals understand contemporary conditions and arm them to deal with a spectrum of new developments ranging from technology and politics to best practices. Fake news is among the greatest of these concerns, and can encompass everything from sarcastic or ironic humor to bot-generated, made-up stories. It can also include the pernicious transmission of selected, biased facts, the use of incomplete or misleadingly selective framing of stories, and photographs that editorially convey certain characteristics. This edited volume contextualizes the current "fake news problem." Yet it also offers a larger perspective on what seems to be uniquely modern, computer-driven problems. We must remember that we have lived with the problem of people having to identify, characterize, and communicate the truth about the world around them for millennia. Rather than identify a single culprit for disseminating misinformation, this volume examines how news is perceived and identified, how news is presented to the public, and how the public responds to news. It considers social media's effect on the craft of journalism, as well as the growing role of algorithms, big data, and automatic content-production regimes. As an edited collection, this volume gathers leading scholars in the fields of journalism and communication studies, philosophy, and the social sciences to address critical questions of how we should understand journalism's changing landscape as it relates to fundamental questions about the role of truth and information in society.
Media Ethics by Media Ethics, Ninth Edition is a diverse, classroom tested compilation of 60 diverse cases that will help students prepare for the ethical situations they will confront in their media careers. Ninety percent of the cases are based on actual events, and authors from many institutions and media outlets contributed both real-life and hypothetical cases. There is a strong focus on ethical theory and practice throughout the book, which works well as both a main text in a media ethics course, and in an "across the curriculum" approach in other media courses. Every chapter has been revised to include the most significant research and thinking about the individual topics in the field, including more attention to emerging ethical theory in the areas of privacy, truth telling, and the political role of the news media. Key updates to the Ninth Edition: -A new chapter devoted to the theory and practice of social justice -25 new cases covering current topics as diverse as "weedvertising," "Doxxing," drones, and sexual harassment in the newsroom -The implications of digital content throughout multiple media industries and platforms -Fake news -Technological invasions of privacy -The blending of entertainment, infotainment, and news
Publication Date: 2018-08-10
Radical Media Ethics by Radical Media Ethics presents a series of innovative ethical principles and guidelines for members of the global online media community. Offers a comprehensive new way to think about media ethics in a new media era Provides guiding principles and values for practising responsible global media ethics Introduces one of the first codes of conduct for a journalism that is global in reach and impact Includes both philosophical considerations and practical elements in its establishment of new media ethics guidelines
Reckoning: Journalism's limits and possibilities by How do journalists know what they know? Who gets to decide what good journalism is and when it's done right? What sort of expertise do journalists have, and what role should and do they play in society? Until a couple of decades ago, journalists rarely asked these questions, largely because the answers were generally undisputed. Now, the stakes are rising for journalists as they face real-time critique and audience pushback for their ethics, news reporting, and relevance. Yet the crises facing journalism have been narrowly defined as the result of disruption by new technologies and economic decline. This book argues that the concerns are in fact much more profound. Drawing on their five years of research with journalists in the U.S. and Canada, in a variety of news organizations from startups and freelancers to mainstream media, the authors find a digital reckoning taking place regarding journalism's founding ideals and methods. The book explores journalism's long-standing representational harms, arguing that despite thoughtful explorations of the role of publics in journalism, the profession hasn't adequately addressed matters of gender, race, intersectionality, and settler colonialism. In doing so, the authors rethink the basis for what journalism says it could and should do, suggesting that a turn to strong objectivity and systems journalism provides a path forward. They offer insights from journalists' own experiences and efforts at repair, reform, and transformation to consider how journalism can address its limits and possibilities along with widening media publics.