“Seek truth and report it.”
It’s been referred to as the “prime directive” in the SPJ Code of Ethics, and it will be the theme of the Fourth Annual Ethics in Journalism Week.
SPJ chapters, leaders and members have set aside April 24-28 to place a special emphasis on discussions and activities that support responsible reporting.
Ethics in Journalism Week began in 2003 and continues to grow. This year, the Society awarded grants to 16 local chapters to host events during the week. In addition to the programming activities, SPJ will distribute pocket-size versions of the Code of Ethics; recognize and honor outstanding ethical activities at the local level; and seek opportunities to speak publicly about responsible reporting.
Ethics Week is funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.
The Foundation supports the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and serves the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.
Ethics Week Programs
* Press Club of Long Island, N.Y. The chapter will host programs at Hofstra University in Hempstead and at Stony Brook State University. The events, titled “Journalism Ethics: Real Life Choices,” will include discussions and role-play exercises where participants face tough scenarios guided by real-life journalistic issues.
* Ithaca College, N.Y. The chapter will host a forum using case studies with a focus on reporting politics in Washington, D.C. Specifically, the discussion will focus on the promises and pitfalls of using confidential sources.
* Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter. The chapter plans to determine which ethical issues are most important to the public in order to restore credibility to mass media, and to address these issues in a community-wide program featuring prominent media representatives.
* North Central Florida SPJ Chapter. The chapter will host a two-day ethics program focusing on anonymous sourcing and the ethical dilemmas that surround it. Events will take place in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Gainesville, Fla.
* Winthrop University, Rock Hill, S.C. Aly Colon, reporting, writing and group leader at the Poynter Institute, will lead an ethics discussion at the campus. Colon is nationally known for coaching journalists on how to be more ethically minded and guiding journalists to better connect with under-covered communities.
* Cincinnati Pro Chapter. The chapter will host, “Are we telling the truth?,” a forum for the public at-large to meet with reporters, editors, news directors and producers from print and broadcast outlets throughout the city. Top editors will review the ethical policies in their newsrooms, and reporters will explain how they do their jobs on a daily basis.
* Minnesota Pro Chapter. This event will address reporting the truth about your own organization’s shortcomings. Byron Calame, the new public editor for The New York Times, will keynote the program and is expected to address the current controversy surrounding Judith Miller and The New York Times. Star Tribune Reader’s Representative Kate Parry also will participate, along with Jane Kirtley, the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota
* University of Missouri, Columbia. The chapter will sponsor “Freedom Sings,” a unique musical group, comprised of award-winning songwriters and musicians. This multimedia presentation of music, videos, graphics, and true stories sheds light on the importance of free speech and ethics in a creative and interactive way.
* Utah Headliners Chapter. A workshop and Webcast will help young people learn about ethical decision making and more fully understand the rights that enable journalists to gather and disseminate the news.
* New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M. The chapter will host a conference for high school students and teachers featuring lecture and activity sessions. The ethics workshop will introduce students to the conflicts and issues surrounding ethics in journalism that arise every day.
* Montana Pro Chapter, Missoula, Mont. The chapter will work with the University of Montana School of Journalism to create a student ethics competition. Students will be presented with a scenario and will be judged on an oral presentation about the scenario.
* Greater Oregon Pro Chapter. The chapter will host “Restoring Credibility in Journalism.” Critical thinkers from the areas of newspapers, radio, and television will share their ideas for restoring credibility in the news industry.
* Valley of the Sun Pro Chapter, Phoenix, Ariz. Reporters, editors, journalism scholars, bloggers, citizen journalists, and legal advisers will discuss the work of citizen journalists. Digging for information, selecting and interviewing sources, removing bias and opinion from writing, and legal challenges are all issues that will be disscussed.
* Arkansas Pro Chapter, Little Rock, Ark. The chapter will host a presentation on covering disasters. Specific topics include accuracy challenges when reporting on deadline in extreme situations and a discussion about how involved reporters and photographers should become with sources.
* Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, Ohio. The chapter plans to host a discussion with Jerry Mitchell, reporter for the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger. Mitchell specializes in uncovering new evidence about unsolved civil rights-era murders. The program will increase understanding about the importance of in-depth reporting on long-dormant cases.
* Western Washington Pro Chapter, Seattle. The chapter will host a session featuring Steven Smith, editor of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. Smith will review the ethical conundrums faced by the paper during its investigation of Spokane Mayor James West.
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