From reading and studying so many journalistic cases that journalists encounter making ethical decisions before covering stories, I found it is pretty important to draw a list from all the cases and checklists and create a list of personal codes that I may apply in my future career as a journalist or media specialist.
It is always the first question come to my mind when we pitch to the editors or get the story from them: What’s the point of the news and why are we covering the news? Think about the news value of the story can help us to better position our roles within the content and be more considerable when we are writing the story.
Truth and Accuracy
Journalists’ responsibility is too seek truth and report truth to the audiences in the public – it is important for us to make sure the stories we are covering are correct and accurate, the source we get is confirmed and attributional, and we are not spicing up the stories. Even though it’s hard to ensure the “truth”, getting the facts right is the cardinal principle that we as journalists need to do.
Ethical journalists treats source, subjects and colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving respects. Everyone who would be possibly affected by the stories we are going to cover should be taken into consideration before we actually begin to write – We minimize undue harm and take special care with those who are vulnerable or suffering if we publish the stories.
The basic four theories of ethical decision making is the fundamental step that we as journalists should go through and think about, especially when we are covering stories of crimes, government, social conflicts and disasters. Applying just one single theory is not enough to make ethical decisions, so it is important to take every single one into consideration before making decisions.
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility. Journalists should refuse gifts, favors, fees, freebies and any other special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality or may damage credibility.
As journalists, we need to stay passionate about whatever story we are covering and do enough background research about if we are not familiar with the contents. Doing our jobs responsibly shows the respects to the story we are covering and the audiences who are reading, as well as a way to serve the public.
Obey the law
It is also the basic rule that we as media professionals should follow every single step we make. We need to make sure that the information we get are legally obtained and can be legally used without being suited.
These are my basic personal ethic code of being a media specialist, however, that doesn’t cover every situation I might encounter in the future. At least it helps me to better locate myself while covering a story in an ethical, human and professional way.