Journalists Code of Ethics

In light of ABC’s recent editing of Charles Gibson’s interview with Gov. Sarah Palin, I thought it might be helpful to review The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. The Code outlines four major responsibilities for those in professional journalism: 1) seek truth and report it, 2) minimize harm, 3) act independently, and 4) be accountable. Here are some of the bullet points under the first heading.

Seek Truth and Report It:  Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:

  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
  • Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
  • Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
  • Never plagiarize.
  • Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

So, according to the Journalists Code of Ethics, there should be no bias, distortion, misinformation, misrepresentation, oversimplification, stereotyping or advocacy in the news media. Hmmm. It seems that journalists from both sides of the political aisle would do well to review these guidelines for the remaining weeks of the election season. What do you think?

Note: Click here to see the edits made in the ABC interview with Palin.

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  1. Sarah Palin Roundup at Ray Fowler .org
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