Journalism is a field with standards and a code of conduct. The Society of Professional Journalists has a code of ethics, which includes these four principles:
Seek Truth and Report It
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Be Accountable and Transparent
Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
The Society of Professional Journalists further specifies guidelines, including:
Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
Label advocacy and commentary.
Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
If you see a news organization that seems to regularly ignore these guidelines, question it.
How false news can spread - Noah Tavlin
Journalists set high standards for themselves by establishing editorial policies, standards of ethics and by putting their names on their work. Be a critical consumer of news and identify who is behind the story or latest headline. Below are some examples of editorial policies and newsrooms' Code of Ethics.