Accuracy: Make sure the facts are right and the right
facts are there. Tell who, what, when, where, how and why. Verify,
Fairness: Make sure to present all sides, arguments
and opinions. Make sure readers and viewers know whatís being presented
as opinion and whatís being presented as fact.
Context: Tell the whole story. Frame it in the proper
background. Give readers and viewers a sense of why the story is
important at this time, in this place. This includes deciding what
is newsworthy, offering news in the public interest as well as news
that interests the public.
Truth: Keep reporting, one piece at a time. Let the facts fall where
they may, and youíll give readers and viewers a chance to begin
to find the truth. Understand that no one person has a monopoly
on truth, that we can only search for data, events, issues and ideas
to help readers and viewers form their own opinions.
Plagiarism: Never use the words and ideas of another
without giving credit to the source.
Sloppy reporting: Donít fail to check the facts. Donít forget
to check all sides of the story. Donít forget to verify, verify,
verify. Donít overlook relevant details ó the who, what, when, where,
how and why.
Bias: Try to avoid it. Donít allow your news reports to be influenced
by your own opinions. Even if you think youíre right, let others
make their case.
Conflicts of interest: Donít report a story if you are not completely
independent of that story.
Poor news judgment: Donít offer news to readers and viewers
that is irrelevant to their lives and their interests. Donít blow
things out of proportion to attract higher ratings and readership.
Deception: Never, never invent characters, quotations
or any part of a story. The moment you make things up, or deliberately
lie, you no longer are a journalist.
sources: When you
rely on people who supply or ďleakĒ information to you on the
condition that you will not mention their names or identities as
the sources of information in your story.
you use anonymous sources, make sure to consider whether the people
youíre talking with have an ďax to grind.Ē Ask yourself: Are they
bitter about something? Out to hurt another party? Remember: It
is easy to make false charges under a cloak of anonymity. If you
can get your sources to go on the record ó agree to be identified
ó youíll give readers and viewers a way to judge for themselves
the reliability of information presented.
Misrepresentation: When you pretend to be someone other than
a journalist, or use deceptive tactics, to get a story.
news people think that using certain deceptive tactics (e.g., hidden
cameras) is acceptable if that is the only way to get an important
story. Whenever deceptive tactics are used, many news organizations
take pains to ensure theyíve exhausted all other possible means
of getting the story. Journalists should check with higher-ups in
their organizations before they resort to these methods and should
be open about their techniques when the stories are reported.
Lack of regard for privacy: When you reveal facts of a personal nature
about someone and many readers and viewers think you have invaded
that personís privacy.
people believe they can control the information revealed about them.
Other peopleó elected officials, movie stars, famous athletes ó
give up some of their privacy when they enter public life. In general,
if information about a person is of interest to the public, it is
thought to be newsworthy and ďfair gameĒ for reporters. However,
news media sometimes face negative reactions from readers and viewers
when they appear reckless in their pursuit of what is thought to
be personal information about public people.
Sensationalism: When you offer news coverage designed to
titillate, to entertain more than to inform.
1995, the heavily covered criminal trial of O.J. Simpson was called
sensational journalism; many analysts agreed that coverage was excessive
and overblown. Yet people clamored for more and more information
about the double murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman
and about the famous football star accused of the crimes. And in
1998, revelations about President Clintonís personal life both turned
readers off and encouraged them to seek all the details.
with permission, from ďMedia Ethics: Where Do You Draw the Line?Ē
by Rosalind G. Stark (Arlington, Va.: The Freedom Forum Newseum
Inc.), 1999, pp.12-13.