As the Society of Professional Journalists celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2019, it may come as a surprise that SPJ did not have its signature Code of Ethics for the group’s first 17 years. In 1909 when the young men at DePauw University founded SPJ as a college fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi, one of their goals was “to advance the standards of the press by fostering a higher ethical code.”
An SPJ member asked: “A local entertainment publication provides a weekly print edition with information on weekly entertainment happenings in the area. They also feature various articles on people and events. Sometimes the cover is sold for the featured event. Does this require a disclosure?
Journalism is wrapping up a bad week — a week of mischaracterizations in news reports that further tainted the credibility of the industry.
Anonymous sources — one of journalism’s most powerful tools — are also one of its most dangerous. Almost every journalist has received a request for anonymity. A source calls up promising a big scoop or an untold story with one condition: that his or her name not be used in the story. And sometimes that request is granted, placing the journalist and publication in the line of fire rather than the source. Granting anonymity is one of the toughest choices any reporter or editor has to make.
For 167 years, The New York Times has rigorously investigated important national and world issues and written about them with sophistication for a curious and cultured audience. There have been some serious breaches along the way, including the revelation in 2003 that one of its reporters had been fabricating details of stories and copying the work of journalists at other newspapers.
My tenure as the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee chairperson began in September 2014. A Minneapolis news station would broadcast a story now known as #Pointergate in early November. Rolling Stone would publish its now-infamous story on sexual assault a couple of weeks later.
Thursday was a proud day for journalists. Hundreds of newspapers and other media organizations explained the important role they play in their communities or the country and asserted they are not “enemies of the people” as the president has frequently said.
The reporter who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for feature writing initially thought she was in Charleston, South Carolina, to chronicle the lives of nine church-goers who died in 2015 when a stranger with a Glock murdered them while they were praying.
Eight days after the Feb. 14 school shooting, Rebecca Schneid and her high school newspaper’s staff sat down to figure out a plan. Schneid is one of the editors-in-chief of the Eagle Eye, the student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
April 24th, 2018 • Featured
Journalism’s complicated relationship with transparency
Despite first being added to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics in 2014, “transparency” has always been an elemental part of journalism. As SPJ embarks on its 15th annual Ethics Week and the organization calls for more transparency throughout journalism, it’s important to look back at the complicated relationship between the concept and the profession.
April 9th, 2018 • Featured
Sinclair’s ‘teachable moment’ raises even more questions
Sinclair Broadcast Group executives reportedly called the recent backlash to its company-wide promotional videos “teachable moment” in a call Wednesday with representatives from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. That same day, the National Press Photographers Association issued a statement calling on all media companies to “improve and celebrate ethical journalism in effective, meaningful and respectful ways.”
April 3rd, 2018 • Featured
Sinclair’s mandates threaten independent, local journalism
Journalists at Sinclair Broadcast Group stations across the country have been appearing in carbon-copy promotional videos claiming that some media outlets are publishing “fake stories” and that some members of the media “push their own personal bias and agenda.” How America’s largest local TV owner turned its news anchors into soldiers in Trump’s war on the media: https://t.co/iLVtKRQycL
March 19th, 2018 • From the President
To regain trust, journalists should tell our own story
How can the media rebuild public trust? That’s a question journalists have grappled with for decades. But now it’s more important than ever to examine the causes of and possible solutions to this vexing problem. The good news is that most people value accurate, well-told news stories.
March 12th, 2018 • Featured
Can transparency save journalism from outside attacks?
Just over one month before a special election in Alabama for the U.S. Senate, The Washington Post published a story about Republican candidate Roy Moore that revealed inappropriate contact he made with teenage girls. The understated importance of this story was it included bits and pieces of how the story was reported to begin with; right within in the story, the reporters showed how they learned of the allegations.
It was fewer than 10 days before Donald Trump’s inauguration when he berated CNN and its reporter, Jim Acosta, during a news conference at Trump Tower. “Quiet,” Trump told Acosta as the reporter tried to answer a question. “Don’t be rude, don’t be rude.”
Journalists must know when to move discussions off air. Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, granted many interviews to journalists Monday that produced several accusations and conflicting statements.