The Ethics of a Journalist

Four main ideals are required in journalism ethics; seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent. All these continue to resonate in how journalists work and should conduct themselves. Considering these requirements you, as a journalist, are burdened with the necessity of striking a balance to provide the right kind of coverage for people and events. In the line of seeking the truth and reporting about it you should uphold the following:

  • Take full responsibility for the accuracy of your work. That means you must do a double check on all information collected. Corroborative evidence and references would be great things to check and provide. You should also use original sources as much as possible.
  • Don’t jump the gun on context. Be diligent and careful enough not to leave important details out of anything, while you are presenting a report.
  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Work on the story for as long as it takes you to get to the bottom of it.
  • While sourcing for materials and information, read and understand the mind, intention and the motive of the writer/informant, to decipher if they are not biased.
  • It should be a part of your integrity as a journalist to never plagiarize a work. Reference a source if you are getting information from them.
  • In the case where you have to protect an informant or a news source for security purpose, mention the reason why your source is kept anonymous.
  • Be the voice of those who do not have a voice or have limited voices.
  • If you are reporting, either orally or through writing, make provisions for your audience to verify. Provide sources and links that can validate your works.
  • Under no condition should you change, deliberately, or distort facts, evidence, contents and context, audio or visual properties of an information.
  • Strive for objectivity. You should never write a report in the favor of a group, ethnicity, race or an individual above another, without revealing your bias to the audience. Sincerity and transparency should be your ethic.
  • Don’t be judgmental in your reports. I understand that experiences from the past and news might form a basic knowledge about something, someone, or a group to you. While writing a report, hold such prior experience and news at a distance away from you.

MINIMIZE HARM:

  • Establish a balance between the people’s thirst for information against the possibility of harm and discomfort that it can cause to someone, a place or society.
  • Be careful with your choice of words. You should show or reflect compassion in your words. More acutely, be sensitive.
  • Understand that having rightful and legal access to information does not equate the ethical justification to publish or broadcast. Care about the things/information you share. It might pose threats to individuals, including yourself.
  • Be sensitive tonally when discussing with and about kids, sexual assaults and cultural diversities.
  • When dealing with criminal suspects, consider it a delicate issue. Consider the implication and the harm that it might create as a news source while the suspect is not charged yet.

ACT INDEPENDENTLY:

  • Avoid those with special interests.
  • Avoid offerings and gifts that accompany coverage of an event or news story.
  • Don’t receive information for sources that request money in exchange.
    • Sometimes, people take an advertisement as news. Be curious enough to clarify and categorize each lead you acquire. When content or information is sponsored, tag it as such.

BE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT:

  • Be prompt to respond to questions on accuracy, clarity, fairness and justice.
  • Acknowledge mistakes, and make corrections as quickly as possible. Tender apologies if there was any offense taken by anyone. Give details and reasons for corrections.
    • Treat others how you would want to be treated and always pull through with your commitments

These are not standard rules for a journalist to uphold. However, they are insightful about how to go. They cover the aspect of serving through journalism, protecting lives and humans under various conditions.

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