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Codes of ethics

Defining and describing


standards and best practices
Professions with ethical codes
Professions with ethical codes
• Doctors
Professions with ethical codes
• Doctors
• Lawyers
Professions with ethical codes
• Doctors
• Lawyers
• Engineers, etc.
Sanctions for violations

• Loss of license
Sanctions for violations

• Loss of license
• What is to stop someone from setting up
practice without a license?
Sanctions for violations

• Loss of license
• What is to stop someone from setting up
practice without a license?
• Government enforcement
The great debate
• Is journalism a
profession?
The great debate
• Is journalism a
profession?
• Can it be a
profession without
violating the First
Amendment?
The great debate
• Is journalism a
profession?
• Can it be a
profession without
violating the First
Amendment?
• Can we have a
binding code of
ethics?
The rise of professionalism
• Adolph Ochs and
the New York Times
The rise of professionalism
• Adolph Ochs and
the New York Times
• Joseph Pulitzer
(right) seeks a
legacy
The rise of professionalism
• Adolph Ochs and
the New York Times
• Joseph Pulitzer
(right) seeks a
legacy
• Sigma Delta Chi
founded in 1909
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Developed by the American Society of
Newspaper Editors
• Revised in 1975, now called the
“Statement of Principles”
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
• Article 2: Freedom of the press
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
• Article 2: Freedom of the press
• Article 3: Independence
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
• Article 2: Freedom of the press
• Article 3: Independence
• Article 4: Truth and accuracy
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
• Article 2: Freedom of the press
• Article 3: Independence
• Article 4: Truth and accuracy
• Article 5: Impartiality
“Canons of Journalism” (1922)
• Article 1: Responsibility
• Article 2: Freedom of the press
• Article 3: Independence
• Article 4: Truth and accuracy
• Article 5: Impartiality
• Article 6: Fair play
Discussion
• Where is objectivity?
Discussion
• Where is objectivity?
• If the code isn’t
binding, what good
is it?
Discussion
• Where is objectivity?
• If the code isn’t
binding, what good
is it?
• If the code is
common sense, why
have there been so
many scandals?
SPJ Code of Ethics
• Borrowed from ASNE in 1926
• Current code adopted in 1996
• Four broad areas
SPJ Code of Ethics
• Borrowed from ASNE in 1926
• Current code adopted in 1996
• Four broad areas
– Seek Truth and Report It
SPJ Code of Ethics
• Borrowed from ASNE in 1926
• Current code adopted in 1996
• Four broad areas
– Seek Truth and Report It
– Minimize Harm
SPJ Code of Ethics
• Borrowed from ASNE in 1926
• Current code adopted in 1996
• Four broad areas
– Seek Truth and Report It
– Minimize Harm
– Act Independently
SPJ Code of Ethics
• Borrowed from ASNE in 1926
• Current code adopted in 1996
• Four broad areas
– Seek Truth and Report It
– Minimize Harm
– Act Independently
– Be Accountable
Case study: The Big Dig

• Globe had memo warning of safety problems


• Couldn’t reach contractor for comment
• Memo turned out to be a likely forgery
Case study: The Big Dig

• Should contractor have been given more time


to respond?
Case study: The Big Dig

• Should contractor have been given more time


to respond?
• Would it have mattered?
Case study: The Big Dig

• Should contractor have been given more time


to respond?
• Would it have mattered?
• How long can you wait on a breaking story?
Journalists and politics (I)

Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher


Journalists and politics (II)
• MSNBC.com reported on scores of
journalists making political donations
• Many media outlets do not prohibit
donations, despite codes of ethics
• Rosenstiel: Opinion journalists should
be treated the same as news reporters
What does the public think?
• 34 percent: No way
• 30 percent: No problem
• 37 percent: No problem as long as
there’s disclosure