Posted in Ethics, tagged advertising ethics, Build Your Own Ethics Code, Institute for Advertising Ethics, journalism ethics, native advertising, New York Times, Online News Association, Poynter, product placement, public relations ethics, Public Relations Society of America, Radio Television Digital News Association, RTDNA Code of Ethics, Rules of the Road, Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ Code of Ethics, Telling the Truth and Nothing But, Tim McGuire, Tom Rosenstield, Verification Handbook on November 19, 2015|
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I taught a class today in professional codes of ethics for various media careers.
A central point of the class was to discuss whether and why ethics codes should be updated: How much do they present timeless principles and how much should they provide specific guidance relevant to today’s ethical situations and challenges?
I won’t review all the points I made here, but I cited these ethics codes (or principles):
I also cited these narrower but more detailed examinations of slices of journalism ethics, all of them completed in the past few years:
We discussed native advertising, product placement as efforts to blur the lines between advertising and news or entertainment, including the Cities Energized paid post in the New York Times.
I also cited blog posts by Tom Rosenstiel and Tim McGuire about the relative merits of independence and transparency as core principles of journalism ethics.
I also cited Bob Steele‘s 10 questions to make ethical decisions as advice that is as helpful making ethical decisions today as when he first published them in 2002.
I made points covered in more detail in these earlier blog posts:
These were the slides I used in the class:
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Posted in Ethics, tagged Build Your Own Ethics Code, ONA, ONAethics, Online News Association, Poynter Guiding Principles for the Journalist, RTDNA Code of Ethics, Rules of the Road, Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ Code of Ethics, Telling the Truth and Nothing But, Verification Handbook on September 25, 2015|
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In late 2013 I called for detailed guidance for journalists on various ethics issues. I’m pleased to have had a role in answering that call through the Online News Association’s Build Your Own Ethics Code project.
The BYO code gives journalists and journalism organizations thoughtful guidance on 40 different topics relating to journalism ethics. Though it’s formally labeled ONAethics, the editing committee focused on Build Your Own and shortened it to BYO (hey, we’re journalists), which is how I’ll refer to it here.
The BYO project was released Thursday at the #ONA15 conference in Los Angeles (which, unfortunately, I am missing this year).
Disclaimer up front acknowledging my obvious bias in writing about this: I was a leading contributor in the writing of the project and participated with four others in editing. I will applaud all of them and others personally later, but first want to address the final product.
Disclaimer #2: Though we’ve been working on this project for two years, it’s still a work in progress. We welcome your feedback and will improve it as we receive suggestions and people point out flaws that we missed. And we’re still working on some design issues. The link I provide above is a beta. We welcome beta testers.
As I’ve said many times, good ethical decisions don’t come from good rules but from good conversations about ethics. What I like most about the BYO project is that it’s designed to prompt newsroom conversations about ethics, or at least to prompt individual journalists to think about the issues. As you use the tool to develop a code for your organization (or yourself), you have to think about what your values are and how to apply them in your journalism. (more…)
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