Seek Truth and Report It
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be
honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting
responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information
before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as
possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for
sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have
information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was
– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information
unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
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.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.
Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue
compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use
heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex
crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give
consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
that private people have a greater right to control information about
themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or
attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know.
Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they
face legal charges.
the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of
publication. Provide updated and more complete information as
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid
political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or
impartiality, or may damage credibility.
wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay
for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources,
whether paid or not.
favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special
interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence
– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue
with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
– Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
– Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
– Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
– Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.
that address changing journalistic practices. It is not a set of rules,
rather a guide that encourages all who engage in journalism to take
responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of medium.
The code should be read as a whole; individual principles should not be
taken out of context. It is not, nor can it be under the First
Amendment, legally enforceable.
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