One of the many steps to becoming a journalist is to develop a personal code of ethics. There are, of course, professional codes that all journalists should follow in addition to this individual code. To begin my efforts as a journalist and writer, I have chosen to follow the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. I plan to attend a journalism graduate program within the next few years, so I thought it was important to start thinking about this now. Quoted below is the preamble from their website:
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.
They go on to detail the four main principles from their Code of Ethics: Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently, and Be Accountable and Transparent. The Society of Professional Journalists expands on each of these pillars and provides a solid foundation for ethical standards. They remind us that these codes are voluntary. I am not a member of SPJ, nor am I a trained journalist; however, my personal code is mainly derived from their document. There are just four, but I think they accurately summarize my mission as a soon-to-be-journalist.
My Personal Code of Ethics
Write with honesty and accuracy.
Follow the facts and do not misrepresent them.
Consider all perspectives.
Treat others with respect and empathy.