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The Five Fundamentals of Journalism Ethics

Which of my five fundamentals is most important for journalists to follow?

Bio
Patrick Duprey
I am a sophomore journalism student at Ithaca College's Roy H. Park School of Communications. Contact me with your journalism ethics concerns via email at dupreyethics@gmail.com. View my complete profile

Blog Archive
* ▼  2010 (6)
* ▼  May (6)
* The Five Fundamentals of Journalism Ethics
* Report the Truth (and Nothing But)
* Act Independently
* Be Transparent
* Be Selectively Sensitive
* Place Ethics over the Law

Monday, May 10, 2010
The Five Fundamentals of Journalism Ethics
In a field as frantically fast-paced as the news business, it is absolutely vital to develop a personal ethical code in preparation for the dilemmas that journalists will inevitably face. In such pressing scenarios, ethical conduct is often overlooked in favor of other alternatives, including childish desires for attention or suspected fame, particularly in the age of the World Wide Web.

Journalism ethics are of rising importance in the digital age due to the instantaneous publishing methods and overwhelming lack of professionally trained and educated gatekeepers. While readers must always be skeptical of the material that they are presented, the onus is also on writers to be accountable for what they publish, as that material is now available to larger, more widespread audiences than ever before.

All bloggers and journalists alike should be mindful of their content, but professional journalists have an obligation to continue to be ethical, for they are still the predominant news source. Readers expect ethical decision-making from journalists, and they have a right to do so. In order to fulfill such expectations, journalists must carefully align their loyalties and reach the premier stage of moral development. If such tasks are accomplished, journalists will earn the respect of their audience, colleagues, sources and themselves.

Listen to Dean Wright, Reuters' Global Editor for Ethics, Innovation and News Standards, discuss journalism ethics and their importance in the digital age.

Though it may seem like a daunting objective, by following my Five Fundamentals of Journalism Ethics, I believe that, as a professional journalist, I can simplify this complex assignment and lead a rewarding career. Posted by Patrick Duprey at 12:50 PM 1 comment:

Report the Truth (and Nothing But)
What is a journalist if he/she fails in the task of reporting only the truth? To answer my own question, that “journalist” would be a disgrace to the profession. The number one job of journalists has been and always will be to report accurately. As media critic Walter Lippmann famously said in (his 1920 collection of essays) Liberty and the News, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.”

While such a task may seem simple on the surface, we are now in the digital age, meaning many writers, particularly online bloggers, publish first and then fact check later, if at all. If journalists follow this method, the profession’s future looks bleak, as they would instantly fall to the level of the tens of millions of bloggers that already provide commentary and analysis on the Web with typically no accurate, original reporting. Even though bloggers may be growing in popularity in recent years, journalists are still the ones doing the hard-hitting, truthful reporting, and for the profession to survive the transformation to the online medium, this trend must continue.

To assist in attaining this vital level of factual reporting, journalists must always fact-check all material presented in an article before its publication. This includes verifying the spelling of names and calling the interviewee to verify quotes, among other things. When publishing a quote, also be sure to include the entire...
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