Journalism - Facts & Directory

Journalism ethics and standards include principles to address good practice for professional journalists. Historically and currently these principles are most widely known to journalists as their professional "code of ethics" or the "canons of journalism." The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual news organizations. The codes and canons evolved through observation of and response to past ethical lapses by journalists. Today, it is common for terms of employment to mandate adherence to such codes equally applicable to both staff and freelance journalists; journalists may face dismissal for ethical failures. Upholding professional standards also enhances the reputation of and trust in a news organization, which boosts the size of the audience it serves.

These codes of ethics assist journalists with ethical dilemmas they might come across in their careers. The written codes and standards may vary from organization to organization and from country to country but usually in the field of journalism there is some type of framework established on ethics. Reporting the truth is never libel, which makes accuracy and attribution very important. Private persons have privacy rights that must be balanced against the public interest in reporting information about them. Public figures have fewer privacy rights and publishers vigorously defend libel lawsuits filed against their reporters. One of the most important rules is to make sure your sources given information is reliable and true. You are responsible for what material you are reporting and the legitimacy of the information you are covering. Always question your sources information and dig deep in order to compare all the material that is available on the specific topic in question. Some sources have motives that may effect what they give you as material for your story and will make it difficult for you to report the truth.

When you obtain photography or video images for a report make sure not to distort the images in any way. An exception to the rule is to increase the clarity of the images. Make sure to focus on facts and details of the related story without making any personal comments or suggestions that might the feel of the story. This allows the reader to form his or her own opinions without being forced to take in your opinions and comments. Swaying the story in to the direction you want it to go defeats the purpose of proving factual information so that others may form opinions and sometimes give feedback. It is also important to use your career as a tool for the voiceless to be heard. Sources can be average people who have experienced events or are currently in difficult circumstances and looking for a way to be heard. Be their aid and not only will you be helping them but you are also putting together a story that others will be touched by and may even relate to.