Update: The chat is finished. If you didn’t join us, read the replay below, or the Storify summary.
I am pleased that my blog post last November, calling for an update of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, has stimulated a discussion about journalism ethics in the digital age.
Tonight, Kevin Smith, chair of the SPJ Ethics Committee, and I will lead a Twitter chat (#spjchat), starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time, about whether SPJ should update the Code. Mike Reilley of DePaul University organized the chat and will moderate. (more…)
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Posted in Ethics, Maya's return from Haiti, objectivity, tagged ABC News, Allen Thompson, Bill Simbro, David Goldman, Des Moines Register, Good Morning America, Haiti earthquake, Jared Taylor, Jeff Jarvis, journalism ethics, Kevin Smith, Mandy Poulter, Matt Poulter, Maya, NBC News, Nightline, Omaha World-Herald, Robin Roberts, Rwanda, Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, Shenandoah High School, Society of Professional Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, Tyler Dukes on January 23, 2010 |
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One of journalism’s favorite notions is that we don’t become part of the story. We are supposed to be some sort of object (you know, objective) that doesn’t feel, that stays aloof and writes from an omniscient perch above it all.
It is a lie, and we need to stop repeating it. The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is “Seek truth and report it.” Here is the truth about journalism: Journalists aren’t objects; we are people. We feel. We have families and emotions. We have moral standards. When we show up for truly personal or potentially volatile interviews or events, we become part of the story and denying that violates our obligation to tell the truth.
But the Society of Professional Journalists denied it this week, somberly cautioning journalists in Haiti: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.” As I have written before, my family became a small part of the Haiti story this month. I will address the ethics of that story shortly. But first I want to write about the underlying ethical principles. I teach ethics in journalism seminars across North America (Ottawa, Canada, and Berkeley, Calif., this month), and I know that journalists sometimes like to reduce ethics to simple do-this-don’t-do-that rules. And ethics often aren’t that simple. (more…)
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