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Code Words: SPJ’s Ethics Committee Blog
– The Road Ahead
– Ethics Code Revision: Final Draft
– Ethics of covering suicides

Ethics Committee
This committee's purpose is to encourage the use of the Society's Code of Ethics, which promotes the highest professional standards for journalists of all disciplines. Public concerns are often answered by this committee. It also acts as a spotter for reporting trends in the nation, accumulating case studies of jobs well done under trying circumstances.

Ethics Committee chair

Andrew Seaman
Email
@andrewmseaman
Bio (click to expand) Andrew is a medical journalist for Reuters Health in New York. Before coming to Reuters Health, he was a Kaiser Media Fellow at Reuters’s Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covered the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2011, Andrew graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied investigative journalism as a Stabile Fellow and was named “Student of the Year.” Andrew also graduated with his B.A. from Wilkes University in 2011.

He’s won numerous awards throughout his short career, including being named a 2010 Tom Bigler Scholar for ethical standards in journalism, the 2009 Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award, the 2009 and the Arthur H. Barlow National Student Journalist of the Year Award.


Monica Guzman, vice chair
Email
@moniguzman
Bio (click to expand) Monica is a Sunday columnist for The Seattle Times and a weekly columnist for GeekWire, covering issues in digital life. She was a juror for the 2014 Pulitzer Prizes, serves on the National Advisory Board for the Poynter Institute and contributed the closing chapter, “Community As an End,” to the 2013 Poynter book “The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century.” From 2007 to 2010, Monica launched and ran the innovative Big Blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and seattlepi.com, complementing news and culture coverage with weekly reader meetups. From 2010 to 2012 she developed user communities for Seattle startups like Intersect, Trover and Glympse before kicking off her Times column.

A member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community, Monica emcees the popular quarterly community speaker series Ignite Seattle and is assisting the American Press Institute with a newsroom innovation project. Monica served on the ethics code revision task force and is an active member of the Western Washington Pro chapter of SPJ. She is currently serving as chapter president.

Home > Ethics > Ethics Code Revision Project > Your feedback

Ethics Code Revision Project
Thoughts on the Code

The following comments are collected from both our feedback form and across various posts on SPJ's Blog Network. Do you think the code needs updating? What would you like to see added or changed? Your feedback is invaluable, so tell us what you think!


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I think the revisions on the second draft are a good update overall with the exception of some undefined terms. This code draft is more inclusive of narrative literary journalists and opinion columnists. I do still have some concerns that have also been voiced by a couple of narrative literary journalists, and one of them is a Pulitzer-Prize winner. At the beginning of the second draft and in other places throughout the code, the terms "act ethically" and "responsibly" are used but not defined clearly. Because of our ever changing world, industry and the mixture of our cultures, there are many definitions of those terms especially the term ethical and its forms. I think this needs clarification. Example: ...journalists should act ethically as demonstrated by the ethical standards of experienced journalists and/or using the ethical values embraced personally. I think it is important to clarify these terms. Just leaving it as is does not provide the guidance necessary especially for young/inexperienced journalists.

— Kim Pewitt-Jones


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Recommendations for the SPJ Code of Ethics:

1. The SPJ Code of Ethics should include prominent figures in its social media account verification list. It’s possible, yet unlikely, that someone could hack into an account belonging to a corporation or public figure. This has happed. For example, when someone hacked into Burger King’s twitter account and replaced its name and logo to McDonald’s. Then, the hacker stated that McDonald’s had bought Burger King. Social media accounts require a stricter standard of verification than other sources.

2. Also, the Code of Ethics should address surveillance methods of news gathering. For instance, wearable cameras, such as Google Glass, are becoming more popular for news gathering. It’s important to respect sources’ privacy when using these tools.

3. Perhaps, the Code of Ethics could be a bit more concise. Some of the clauses could be combined. For instance, these lines could be merged: “Never deliberately distort information.” and “Never alter or distort news images. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.”

— Valerie Crowder


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I do think the Code needs to be updated, and generally like the second draft. Here are a few areas where I'd like to see stronger language:

Seek truth section:

1) "Diligently seek subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to criticism and to allegations of wrongdoing."

This is crucial, but I think it doesn't address what to do if you don't get a response from the subject. I think journalists should be encouraged to explain the absence of a response, including if there were multiple attempts to reach the subject.

I work a lot with our breaking news reporter, and know you won't always have responses from all sides right away. But it can help to be transparent with readers about what you do and don't know at the time of publication, including an inability to get an immediate response from a subject.

2) Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional, open methods will not yield vital information to the public.

Here, I'd like to see this sentence from the current code restored: "Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story." Again, the more transparent you can be about reporting, the better. If you're using a non-traditional way of gathering info, readers ought to know why.

3) Never plagiarize. Disclose sources of information not independently verified.

Perhaps add a line to encourage journalists to add a link, where possible, to the original sources of information not independently verified.

----

Generally, I support the revisions in this draft and hope the committee can consider the points listed above. However, I'd also like to encourage the committee and SPJ to strongly consider how the organization can offer more specific guidance on how the code can be applied in daily reporting. The broader guidelines definitely set the tone for what should be the practices of anyone who is reporting news. But it would be great to expand the ethics blog or webpage to include more posts with advice on how to actually put some of the points into action. For example, there could be more analysis of ethical lapses and advice on what a journalist or newsroom could have done differently. Or you could compile a list of the most frequent requests sent to staff or the ethics committee each quarter and hold a webinar or craft a post that addresses some of them. You could ask for guest posts to help share the increased workload.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

This is my take on the latest draft of the proposed update: http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/region2/?p=77

— Andy Schotz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

In the next-to-last included paragraph under "Seek Truth," it might be better to have the first sentence read as follows: "Images should rarely be altered and any alterations should be clearly labeled and the need for them explained fully."

In the "Act Independently" section, I'd suggest the following wording: "Disclose and explain unavoidable conflicts.

— David Gordon


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The "Be Accountable" section should reinstate the sentence: "Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media." SPJ should also form an Ethics Complaints Review Committee to publicly adjudicate complaints that cannot be resolved between the complainants and media organizations. The Washington News Council an offer an effective and workable model. But the initiative should come from SPJ leadership. If the newly revised code lacks an "enforcement" mechanism, it will be meaningless.

— John Hamer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I like reading the code — if nothing else, I think the revision process has been good for getting peoples' eyes on it so they can do a mental check-in on what they're doing well, what they need to work on and exploring other ways to be ethical out in the field.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The following from the marked-through version is important. "Pursue accuracy in reporting over speed of publication. Neither speed nor abbreviation formats excuse inaccuracy." (Should that be "abbreviated formats"?)

Several weeks ago, I actually heard a daily newspaper online editor say something like, "Good journalism is important, but for now, our first priority is speed in getting information online.

— Mike Haynes


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Great job!

I do agree with one person who responded that it appears you put all the responsibility on the shoulders of the reporter ...

One specific suggestion — Under "Seek Truth and Report It" "Seek nontraditional sources whose voices are seldom heard" Consider changing the word "nontraditional" — it's ambiguous and means different things to different people.

— Cheryl Spainhour


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

In the Be Independent section, my reporting class and I think SPJ needs to address the problem of reporters who become too chummy with a source. You can't always help who you fall in love with, but you need to get off the story if you fall in love with a source! I had the class suggest wording and the best one was this:

Be wary of romantic relationships with a source; avoid using or change the source if a relationship does occur.

— Carolyn Carlson


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The new version is wordier, flabbier and ultimately more vague than the original. At the same time, it is more mindlessly idyllic than ever — written by and for out-of-touch academics, observers and self-seeking theoreticians, not experienced working newsmen and newswomen.

This pointless exercise simply doesn't account for the realities of the modern journalism world. Our standards should not be lower, but now more than ever SPJ needs to acknowledge the elephant in the room — the hedge funds, venture capitalists, tycoons and corporate chains who own and operate mainstream news outlets are the primary (and inescapable) driving force behind the fall in professionalism and ethical conduct in our industry. Until their insatiable demand for lower standards is addressed, the ethics code — even the good original version that's in place today — merely puts more demands on the bottom-of-the-food-chain workers and mid-level managers who are powerless to change this tide.

This argument does not suggest we abandon the code.

OF COURSE an ethics code is useful for individuals; the existing one is fine as is. But SPJ could make a genuine difference in the industry if it focused public attention on the real source of what's going wrong. There is a direct link between the decline in "real news" and the years of layoffs, ownership attacks on experienced staff, and deliberate cheapening of standards, especially in broadcast and online. These trends are not fueled or endorsed by journalists; SPJ could exhibit some rare backbone by telling the public this truth.

SPJ also might take on another sacred cow: The phony hype from new media cheerleaders and such self-promoters as Peter Gant and Dan Gillmor. It has proved to be untrue; "We're NOT all journalists now." The public instinctively knows this, but hasn't connected the dots. SPJ could do that for them — rather than spin its wheels in needless debates about the ethics code or the organization's name.

When our professional association continues giving these projects to "the usual suspects" from prior SPJ administrations, though, it's not surprising that the real boots-on-the-ground concerns would be overlooked again in favor of soapy platitudes imposed on the very employees who suffer most at the hands of modern media ownership.

— Don Stacom


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Having read through your proposed INTRODUCTORY PAGE to the Code of Ethics, I see problems with that text — clunkiness and a number of ambiguities in the phrasing. Plus, IMO, it lacks "style".

Consequently, I am herewith submitting MY PROPOSED REPLACEMENT for that page's text (up to the subhead "Seek Truth", which, IMO, is not such a great subhead either — but that's for another analysis). If you can let me know what you think of my proposed first-page replacement, I'd appreciate it:

Here's MY PROPOSED FIRST-PAGE REPLACEMENT-TEXT:

CODE OF ETHICS Members of the Society for Professional Journalists believe that the attainment, continuance, even the survival, of justice and good government — and the very ability of members of society to make choices based on facts rather than on falsehoods — requires that the public have access to relevant information that is thoroughly and, at all times, factually accurate.

Thus, for SPJ members, the principle is clear: In order to uphold these critically important goals, a commitment to honest, accurate, and unswervingly principled, reporting, by the journalistic community, is essential.

We further believe that responsible journalists from all media — including traditional as well as non-traditional providers of news — should at all times strive to serve the public with only the highest standards of integrity and, along those lines, should make every effort to "get the story right" from the very first time.

Because, after all is said and done, what does a journalist's credibility, reputation, survival in the journalistic field, rely upon, if not his or her integrity as a principled reporter who is dedicated to conveying truth?

For, indeed, that quality of integrity in dedicated support of truth, is what responsible, ethical, journalism — the kind of journalism that the Society for Professional Journalists honors above all else — is about.

The purpose of this Code, therefore, is to declare in unmistakable terms the Society's principles and standards and to encourage their use in the practice of journalism in any and all media.

— Steven J. Steinberg


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Two editing corrections: 1) Under SEEK TRUTH, fourth line should read "abbreviated formats" (sted abbreviation). 2) Still under SEEK TRUTH, 20th line (counting all lines) should be "Boldly tell the story..." (sted Bolding...).

Two concerns:

First, I think you need to expand "Never plagiarize" (under SEEK TRUTH) to include never explicitly or implicitly claiming credit for someone else's work AND to include an admonition about providing proper credit on all sources of information. (This has been a huge issue among younger and/or new media journalists who don't seem to understand the word "plagiarism.")

Second, under ACT INDEPENDENTLY, I'm concerned about deleting the line "Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility." Again, that's an area where I've seen major problems — and a major lack of understanding. Perhaps the principle could be combined with the statement about avoiding conflicts of interest, to give a better sense of what a "conflict of interest" really is for a journalist.

Overall, I'm very pleased to read this proposed update and hope that it will get WIDE distribution (and application) among all media.

— Sarah Jenkins


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Journalists should be fair, honest, and courageous..." sounds better to the ear.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The second draft is excellent and serves well the changes in the processes in modern news gathering. I applaud those who have worked on the draft and would happy to support the draft as the final form for a new code of ethics.

— Dave Foran


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

On this paragraph:

"Recognize that legal access to information differs from ethical justification to publish. Journalists should balance the importance of information and potential effects on subjects and the public before publication."

I am a little confused about what this means so I fear it's not very clear. What is the Code getting at with the first sentence? Is it OKing illegal access to information, or isn't it? The second sentence makes sense on its own but I'm wondering if it's tied to this illegal material in the first sentence. I don't know if SPJ needs to take a clearer stance on illegal documents (i.e. Snowden documents) or to leave it purposefully vague like this. I'd be curious to know what you think!

— Jacob Kanclerz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Preamble does not need the new clause. What does nontraditional media mean? New? There will always be new media and the fact that its practioners need to be held under the same standard as for old media makes it less necessary to create a distinction in the language. In another year or so previously nontraditional media will likely be commonplace.

In the General rules paragraph four, it should just say "opinion" and not just "critical" ones. We shouldn't let supporters be aonymous either.

— Pauline Repard


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

WHY was "seeking truth" removed from the preamble? It appears as a heading later, but nothing in that paragraph even mentions truth. I always thought as a reporter my prime goal was to find truth or even several truths.

— Jeffrey T. Bitzer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

It seems critical to keep the details of this section *in* so that people do not forget the various aspects of stereotyping:

Avoid stereotyping. by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

— Jeanne Rollberg


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I'm a fan of most of the changes. Tough but nuanced. Thank you so much for your concerted effort to tackle the very difficult task of defining universal journalism ethics in the digital world.

A few points where I disagree: sometimes, legal access to information provides ethical justification to publish. The line on this matter seems to indicate law and ethics are always at odds, which we know is not true.

The line on correcting archived material is disconcerting. One, the definition of "archived material" is too flexible. Is something archived as soon as its published? 10 years after it's published? After the next update is made? There's a tension between archives as a first draft of history and the need to inform the public. Our early errors are as much a record of the evolution of human understanding and therefore have value. (This was a contentious topic of discussion at the SPJ Regional Conference in DC a few months back.)

I would be more in favor of language along the lines of: "Admit mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently wherever they appeared. Acknowledge errors in archived materials." So it offers the opportunity to educate readers on the truth without changing historical documentation and placing undue burden on resource-strapped news organizations. Though even "acknowledging" it could be a HUGE time expenditure.

Keep up the good work.

— Zach Cohen


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I think this is a good start, but I would appreciate more insight on the following:

-Working with data. Spurious data/statistics are more frequently being touted as news (especially in infographics) without rigorous analysis or even checking primary source documentation. Some ideas to start discussion: Establish and attribute the source of data/charts and disclose. Don't repurpose unrelated data as correlated or causal phenomena.

-Aggregation. I am not sure what form these should take, but the rise of high-volume aggregation is an ethical gray area that often negatively impacts news outlets, independent journalists and non-journalist content creators alike. We need insight from SPJ on how to do this ethically.

-Archiving. "Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of online publication. Provide updated and more complete information when appropriate."
Good start, but I'd like to see stronger/more direct wording on ethical archiving practices.

-Metadata. What should we consider in writing these increasingly important identifiers (titles, descriptions, tags) for journalism? How can this be clearly included/identified as journalistic content?


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I like the first revision of the code. I would like to add that a Code without education or enforcement is weak.

I am suggesting that the SPJ begin a strong, nationwide, newsroom by newsroom education process when the final code is adopted. We have young reporters in TV newsrooms who have never been briefed on ethics despite graduating from major universities.

We also should address the interesting hybrid programs like morning shows that claim to be news programs but then act like programming and advertising shows with paid advertisers appearing as news guests.

— Ross Becker


There is no urgent need to update the SPJ Code of Ethics. An ethics code is a statement of principles, not law. Any attempt to be more specific, such as inserting in the code articles that address new media, merely sets up the code for continued revision.

News gathering and reporting have not changed since the first story was told. The methods have changed, but not the process. And regarding the code, if any change is called for, it’s for simplification rather than additions that address new media and reporting methods.

A previous ethics committee discussed at some length and suggested letting the code stand but linking its articles to online examples and cases that address specific principles. Thus, the code would not have to change to meet media changes. The principles, much the same as those in our US Constitution, would be interpreted and explained by the online library of information linked to the code’s articles. The library could be updated quickly and easily without bothering the code.

A more immediate reason for not changing the code is that it is printed in the new “Journalism Ethics: A Casebook of Professional Conduct for News Media,” which SPJ has just published. Perhaps, when the casebook is updated next, the Code of Ethics can be streamlined — making it less specific and reliant on its strong statement of journalistic principles. In the meantime, let’s get the case studies and explanations online.

A general statement of ethics principles would not need constant updating. A good example of such a statement of principles is the Ten Commandments. How often has that code been updated?

— Paul R. LaRocque


In the "Avoid stereotyping" part I suggest you return to the listing of protected groups (beginning with "race" and ending with "social status."). The revision is too vague. If your intention is to expand the kinds of stereotyping that are to be avoided, then simply add, "and any other categorizations likely to result in stereotypes" or something similar. Comment from http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649


SPJ Region 2 Director Andy Schotz saught feedback from past Ethics Committee member Peter Sussman. Schotz shared Sussman's comments at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/region2/?m=201404

— Andy Schotz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"I read the stories in the March/April Quill. I want to suggest language, perhaps under the Act Independently category, to vigorously oppose efforts by publishers and ad departments to blur the lines between editorial and advertising at newspapers. I worked for a small daily that required the staff to write for special sections with the sole intent of boosting advertising. Management later forced me to write a weekly restaurant feature. My suggestion is publishers should hire, either on staff or by assignment, marketing writers to produce copy for special sections and other promotional materials."

— Ken Hedler


The Chicago Headline Club conducted a session and gathered feedback during it's spring conference. That feedback can be found at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649


SPJ's Region 2 Director Andy Schotz, who is a past Ethics Committee chairman, provided a critique of the first draft. His comments can be found at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/region2/?p=48

— Andy Schotz


I think you have a good start, but here are some thoughts: 1. Balance and fairness are used in three places. One person's definition of these words can be completely different from another person. 2. I think you should eliminate these words because they no longer provide value. Please define nontraditional provider of news. 3. Please emphasize transparency for reporters, editors and publications. I think this area is critical. I would like to see bios, biases and other information, including links to other stories. I am tired of parsing political bias in stories from all sides. 4. I would reinsert give voice to the voiceless. Note: Comment taken from the SPJ Ethics Blog at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Reinstate specific language on unacceptability of bias reporting. Arguments that everyone is biased are simply excusing the growing bias in the media toward all sides. Everyone knows about bias in the media... address it!


The DePaul SPJ/ONA chapter evaluated the first draft, and provided the following response: http://spjonadepaul.com/2014/04/17/spjona-depauls-review-and-feedback-on-code-of-ethics-changes/. They also provided notes in this PDF: http://spjdepaul.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/spj-code-notes.pdf


The ethics code forgot the ethical responsibility of telling the story of diversity, even when it’s unpopular. Given the changing demographics of this country, media professionals - still a largely white profession - must address diversity. By 2050, whites won't be the majority anymore in the U.S., so it would behoove the media to address issues that affect the broader society. Look around the table of those drafting these revisions, does this committee, which is tasked with an enormous job, have any diversity? I hope so. If not, understand that diverse viewpoints make things better. Posted at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649

— Carla Kimbrough


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Should require journalists to avoid bias and opinions in their reporting!

— Bill


I think it's a bad idea to remove: Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant. Posted at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649

— Dan Gainor


A good start. But I think stronger terms might substitute for terms such as "be wary," "shun," "avoid," and such wishy washy language. In conflict of interest sections, can there be some reference to avoiding conflicts posed by employers who attempt to inappropriately influence coverage? Hard issue to tackle, but, from experience, an important element of conflict of interest. It seems something more is needed in the arena of social media, blogs and other variations of traditional platforms. Do the same standards for accuracy, attribution, anonymity, conflict apply to a journalist's social media accounts as they do to the print or broadcast or more official online platforms? In accountability, I'd like to see a stronger take on transparency. I teach that transparency in all that we do is a fundamental ethical value — and interaction with viewers/readers/audience is a part of that fundamental value. Those are some very quick responses. i appreciate the chance to weigh in and may add more after a more thorough read. Comment take from the Ethics Committe blog at http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/ethics/2014/03/27/ethics-code-revisions-our-first-draft/#comment-1326188649

— Steve Smith


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"The SPJ Ethics Committee has released its first draft of its proposed Ethics Code revisions. The draft does NOT restore the rule against opinion and bias in news stories. With the mounting evidence of bias in the media, and additional admissions by journalists that such bias exists, it shocks the conscience that major media outlets will be allowed to continue to pose as honest brokers of the news without so much as a peep from the journalism profession's ethics overseers."


Steve Buttry, a member of the SPJ digital subcommittee working on the Code of Ethics revision, felt the first draft fell well short of a much needed overhaul. You can read his thoughts in this blog post: https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/spjs-ethics-code-update-proposal-just-a-few-tweaks/


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Restore the rule against opinion and bias. As long as major media outlets are posing as honest brokers of the news, the rule needs to come back.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

If you're going to change your name to the Society for Professional Journalism, a clear rule against opinion and bias in news stories should go with it.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

This is a time to make the code more geared to ethical journalists and journalism, not less, at a time when political zealots are hijacking journalism tactics for their own uses and at a time when the line has blurred between those doing the job of reporting honestly and honorably and those who are simply latching on to a mouthpiece.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The same core values apply to social media. This is a distraction.

— Rhonda R. Shearer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"Given its structure of short, to-the-point guidelines, the Ethics Code may not be the ideal place to do this. But I would appreciate it if SPJ would weigh in on the subjects of: 1) social media (should you friend sources on Facebook, most notably — it's a big divide between younger and mid-career journalists), and 2) so-called "native advertising." This issue of what used to be called "advertorial" content is only growing, and some publications are blurring the lines between real and paid content in an age of sinking traditional ad revenue by not labeling this content as clearly as they should. The Web is making the issue worse (or at least murkier) because journalists often don't control websites, and sales managers and digital departments often are not labeling this native advertising as such. This means readers are getting caught in the middle, and publications' integrity could become an issue."

— Julanne Hohbach


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The code should more specifically reflect the rights and responsibilities of journalists in gathering and disseminating news via social media. There should also be a separate section dedicated to the rights and responsibilities of copy editors. Overall, the language of the code should be specific, not general.

— Joseph Gargiulo


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

As a longtime SPJ member, I believe the Code is basically sound. As co-founder of the Washington News Council in Seattle, we have used the Code as our "gold standard" in reviewing complaints against media organizations in this state for the past 15 years. All we ask is that journalists follow the Code, especially the "Be Accountable" section, which we have read aloud at several of our public hearings and also passed out copies to the audiences. However, I believe that SPJ should establish some kind of national oversight body (or regional groups) to uphold its own Code. The voluntary nature of the Code is admirable, but when violations occur there should be an accountability mechanism. You could call it a Stewardship Council or Code Review Board or something similar. I'm not suggesting sanctions or punishment, other than public exposure for the Code violators. They should be "called out" by their peers — otherwise the SPJ Code is essentially toothless. I understand that such an oversight system was proposed years ago (Cliff Rowe and Chuck Rehberg, past SPJ Ethics Committee members and WNC Board Members, told me they voted for it after a discussion in Chicago, I believe. But it was voted down.) It's time to add some "teeth" — or at least "gums" — to the SPJ Code. The oversight group could consist of SPJ Ethics Committee members, plus you could invite an equal number of concerned and informed citizens to join you to review and pass judgment on complaints. I would be glad to assist in this effort if you would like. As you know, the Washington News Council has done this successfully since 1998 and we have an outstanding track record of being fair, thorough and professional — despite what some misinformed, misguided and mistaken journalists may say about us! Let me know if you want my help. David Cullier and Dana Blozis are both friends of mine and you can ask them about me. So is Fred Brown, although I haven't seen him for several years. I am also a member of the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) and the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AIPCE) and have many friends and colleagues in both of those organizations. Cheers!

— John Hamer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I believe that, to regain the confidence of the American public, the SPJ's code of ethics should reinstate its former requirement that "news reports should be free of opinion or bias, and represent all sides of an issue."

— Dorothy


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I think the Code is a solid guide to practicing professional journalism in an ethical way. If anything, I think it could be slimmed down — some of its entries smack of a "cover your ass" mentality, which I suppose isn't too bad a thing for an ethics code — but in general, I think it works well. The problems we see in journalism today don't reflect failings of the Code so much as organizations and people not following it.

— Ben Leubsdorf


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"There should be a difference between news and editorial content. Sadly, with the global elite in direct control of the media, editorial content has usurped news content within the puppeteer-controlled media. There is virtually no news content offfered, both because the content that is offered is biased, and because so many issues that demand coverage are blocked from coverage by the puppeteer-controlled media. Every day is akin to watching the 'Taylor machine' in 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'. How many of the various media report about U. N. Agenda 21, let alone report about it in an unbiased manner?. Heck, even conservative talk radio, with a few exceptions, refuses to deal with this very real, unconstitutional assualt that has been advanced by both major political parties, as has Common Core, smart meters, biometrics, Blueways, genetically modified foods, the Domestic Terrorist Profile, etc. Of course, the schleps in the media didn't get there on their own. Leftist universities have molded dumbed-down and desensitized high school students into puppets of the elites, and the high schoolers were less than educated in grade school on social and faith issues. Genuine news is a relic of years past. Until there is a commitment to rescue our republic from the reprehensible traitors inside the District of Corruption/Collectivism, genuine news will not see the light of day!"

— A. J.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The requirement for unbiased news reporting should be restored to your ethics policy. Right now, the terms unbiased and objective, when used in the context of modern America news reporting, evokes laughter. And it is the laughter of scorn and mocking incredulity. And it is well deserved.

— Don DeVan


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

News should be free from bias opinions. Facts are all we need.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I believe that, to regain the confidence of the American public, the SPJ's code of ethics should reinstate its former requirement that "news reports should be free of opinion or bias, and represent all sides of an issue."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

"The code should not be changed unless it is to be made stricter. Universal code would be a good idea. I don't know all the politics and such concerning this, but I know enough to not lower my standards. I have written in public blogs before I became a journalism and mass communication student, and there is two things I have seen since starting college. First, too many people are willing to not follow the ethics or they believe they are following ethics when they are not due to their own bias. Second, when people tell things like they are, those people become labeled and categorized and get a reputation. I wrote a school assignment paper and the professor labeled me with some strong unkind words, such as a government basher and conspiracy theorist. I can't help but wonder what he thought when the exact thing I predicted played out in the following weeks. Anyway, people who go against the grain to report a story need a "Bible" so to speak. It lends guidance and spiritual support. To change it to something less would be a mistake."

— Rose Hunt


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Enforce the current code of ethics and hold the journalist liable to omissions, cover ups, failure to report the whole truth from both sides, good or bad, prejudice does not belong in the news room. The agreement or disagreement with politics or political parties or candidates are for the individual to decision. Non-bias news reporting, whether on television, radio or printed is essential to our freedom, that is why the 1st Amendment protects journalist, it is up to journalist to make sure they honor the grace that was shown them but printing and reporting the truth, not their or the affiliates opinion. Putting out false or half truths or plain lies should be grounds for termination. Note the loss of ratings for news media that does not promote non-biased news.

— Sheila Orr


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

PLEASE RESTORE THE RULE "AGAINST OPINION AND BIAS IN NEWS STORIES" BACK INTO THE ETHICS CODE

— Teresa Ballew


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

It is time to regain the truth in the media

— Karen Bracken


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Put the rule against opinion & bias BACK into your Code of Ethics.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"Journalists are expected to state the facts, or both sides of the story. The biases of individual networks and newspapers create a DISSERVICE to its audience. PS - the media's hunt for sensationalism crowds the news with items that are NOT national concerns. I'm embarrassed for our culture."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

SPJ needs to add a public sanction list for those who break the code of ethics. Currently, this accountability doesn't exist and the code is broken consistently. As you can tell by the decline in newspaper subscriptions and shift to new networks and internet from the alphabet networks, the audience finds better sources for their news when they believe they are getting sold an agenda instead of being told the truth.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I'm not sure the Code of Ethics should be updated but would like to hear from others on any online implications of which I'm unaware. Interactive journalism might raise issues beyond what we have stated at present.

— Martha Steger


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

You should add.. no harm to public.

— Michelle LaRose


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"Digital splicing of recorded media to frame the story in a way that creates a story where a story isn't there. Too many unethical cuts are being made in newsrooms across America, and with current editing technology, it is easier than ever to hide it and mash words together. Even HBO's the newsroom touched on this in many episodes."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The basic principles laid out in the Code still apply, and making them more specific for a more modern age just creates the risk they will soon become outdated.

— Liz Enochs


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

It seems fine now.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I've read through and used the Code. And in spite of being a "multi-media journalist" using full advantage of many of today's digital tools, I have never found myself thinking that what the Code said didn't apply to my situation. Therefore, why mess with it?


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Needs to have guidelines on social media and on reader comments.

— Tracy Everbach


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

As a long-time member of SPJ (50+ years), I welcome periodic review of the Code of Ethics. The new forms of communication, ideally, should have no effect on maintaining high standards. However, reporting via social media in near-immediate time frames and in super-brief formats present challenges to accuracy, thoroughness and fairness. Periodic reviews of the Ethics Code MAY reveal a need to add to or rework specific parts of the Code.

— Brian Bland


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

With the fast change of technology, the code should be reviewed and tweaked if necessary.

— Marc Emral


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

put the rule against opinion and bias back.

— Mark


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The long-standing, and seemingly obvious, requirement that news reports should be free from opinion or bias, mysteriously dropped from the 1996 revision, should be reinstated. Without it, the SPJ is a joke, and a bad one at that.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Put some provision against bias and opinion into the Code.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

"The basic "seek the truth, report it, minimize harm" should remain. The simplicity of these principles is genius — applicable to any platform and easy to remember. If anything, review the current code by applying its principles to Web 2.0 technologies and their impact on news media."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Good old truth telling never goes out of style. Stick to the facts, put them out there, and let people decide for themselves. They'll appreciate not being spoon fed and told what to believe. Just keep it simple, honest, and fair.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

The SPJ needs to restore the original Code of Ethics stipulations that bias and opinion must be omitted from news reporting. There is an Editorial page for bias and opinion!

— Jane Hogan


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"The vast majority of journalists work for small-audience media — the "average" newspaper in the U.S. is a 7,500 weekly, for example. Yet the SPJ Ethics Committee is dominated by journalists from larger, "daily" news outlets. As a result, the code tends to be based on large-media assumptions and preferences, and suggests a "one-size-fits-all" approach to professional ethics. Section 3, "Act Independently," is especially problematic for "Mom and Pop" news outlets, journalists who do "development journalism" and "peace journalism" in developing regions and emerging democracies, journalists who work for small ethnic, religious, LGBT, and other media serving minority communities. The current "Act Independently" section would vilify as "unethical" the good-faith efforts of many journalists who are trying to help their communities overcome serious and persistent disadvantages with boosterism and advocacy, or who make reasonable compromises to keep their publications afloat in very difficult political and economic situations. The code also reflects a lot of outdated (even obsolete) journalistic attitudes toward anonymity, "objectivity," "news values," and "democracy." The very clear cultural bias of the code — basically, that big-media values in the U.S. are somehow "universal" tenets — is especially archaic in regard to globalism."

— Bill Reader


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Is this issue causing a fever or a fervor?

— G A Redding


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think that it is good right now


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Why was the phrase " ...free of opinion and bias" removed? Without that or an equivalent phrase the rest of the Code is meaningless. The code must also energize a vigorous review and complaint provision as well as meaningful sanctions or expulsion for transgressions. All other legitimate organizations have something like this. Without these the SPJ has no real purpose other than paying bloated salaries to its staff.

— Jeremy Taylor


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

Like the First Amendment, the code is written in a way that should apply to unexpected changes in technology, and is thorough as written.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"It needs to acknowledge social media. For seek the truth and report it, how about: Journalists should confirm information gathered from social media sites and identify sources whenever possible."

— Carolyn Carlson


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Be engaged and more immersed in the communities in which a reporter reports so as to provide better and more trustworthy insight to people


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think the current code is very thorough. It obviously has been updated to refer to modern media If someone has a specific addition of some area or concept that has been overlooked such as involving social media would be fine to consider it

— Pauline Repard


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think the code is quite strong as-is.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

If it isn't broken, don't fix it. The stories we cover may change over time and the technology for covering those stories has changed but our ethical responsibilities to be fair and balanced have not changed. I see no reason to tamper with our code of ethics.

— Art Blazer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

What needs updating has to do with how journalists deal with the newest technologies, before they get even more out of control. Is information gleaned from tweets or Facebook considered reliable? Can it be verified or its accuracy be tested? Should information from Wikipedia or similar sites or blogs written by non-jounalists be considered reliable? If we allow information compiled by "group effort" or anyone choosing to voice an opinion to be considered credible, we are also doing a disservice to the public.

— Elise Goldberg


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Since I am not actively engaged in news gathering/reporting now, I have few occasions to apply the ethics code.

— Jo-Ann Huff Albers


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"1) Under "Seek Truth and Report It," the 11th bullet, "Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others," seems to advocate cultural relativism. But some values like human rights should be regarded as universal, i.e., objectively true, whether or not particular cultures (or majorities within cultures) affirm them. Consider the low status of women in some cultures, or others where children are forced into debt-bondage. 2) Under "Minimize Harm," three points seem overly vague: "Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief"; "Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes"; and "Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges." Can you provide more specific guidance than "be sensitive, cautious and judicious"? Overall, though, I think the Code is quite good. I've assigned it in my courses on professional ethics at Davidson College."

— David Perry


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Please bring back the provisions against opinion and bias in news stories. There are lots of places for opinionated, biased articles to be aired, but not in NEWS stories.

— Rick Buchanan


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"The ethics code appears to put all of the burden and expectation on the journalist, as if one interviewed, photographed, wroted, edited and printed a publication singlehandedly. The EDITOR of newsoutlets is responsible for a good portion of what is actually on the journalists' ethics list. I suggest breaking the list as is down by topic/responsibility even further. I also think it needs to have an at-a -glance type look to reflect today's methods of sharing information. Explain in detail at the bottom. The document is too wordy and scattered to really want to follow...though most writers do! The most important things for writers are: clarity and support of facts or stance. I also think just because something is written, a la twitter or blog, does not make someone an expert nor a journalist. Journalists convey information helpful or useful to others. They expand the world for people busy doing other things. Journalists keep themselves out of the equation of the story."

— Tia Began


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Journalists should not protrude opinions and bias in news reports. "News reports should be free of opinion and bias and represent all sides of an issue" should be included in the code of ethics.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"News should be balanced. Minority and conservative opinions need to be heard. On political reporting, only publishing half of the story in a slanted manner should be a violation of ethics. Also, going to work for the group or organization one covers should be outlawed. I would like to see a news organization use and publish metrics that identifies and tracks biased reporting. (ex: identifying one side as conservative and the not identifying the leanings of the other side; identifying white on black crime and leaving out race when blacks are the initiators of a crime). I would like to see reporters cover responsible members of groups or organizations and not Al Sharptons or John McCains who will say anything to be in front of a camera."

— RK


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

It's good.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"A clear statement should be made on the relationship between journalists and those who seek to influence the news through paid advocacy: namely, public relations professionals. Should journalists even *read* unsolicited press releases, or should they gather their own data?"


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I believe SPJ needs to add an entire section in the Code of Ethics based solely upon social media. In today's society, misreported news is very common because journalists want to get names and details on an event out as soon as possible on their twitter feeds. I think SPJ NEEDS a section devoted to social media so students like myself have a legitimate guideline as to when it we can and cannot report news when using these media outlets.

— Brad Kronthal


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

Like so many issues in our society, it is not that we do NOT KNOW, the appropriate course to take, it is that we do not CHOOSE the appropriate course and nobody is daring to hold us accountable. The Code of Ethics presented by the SPJ is laudable. Its application is laughable! So why bother to even have one?


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

While journalists and their employers need to be more open about how the sausage is made, they still have to remain independent.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

More ethics space for those of us working for mobile/online pubs. Radio and tv could use a shout out as well. And a line or two about handking comps and gifts in ethical fashion would be awesome, it's a huge discussion for those of us doing games journalism right now.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Please, restore the language used much of the last century which required the all journalism must be free of opinion and bias.

— Jeremy Taylor


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"The one language piece I would consider rewording is: rather than stating what a "journalist" should do... I would prefer to see the wording as "doing journalism should look like this..." While it may seem minor, it may shift the focus from the practioner to the profession. This would possibly give more ownership to a broader public. Those who don't practice journalism may gain an understanding and appreciation for the mission of journalism in a democratic society rather than seeing journalists — those who "do" it — as a privileged class. Feel free to contact me for elaboration on this topic. Thank you."

— Jennifer Karchmer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

"The code continues to work well as a framework of principles, which is what it's meant to be - not a set of rules or specific boundaries, which is what news organizations can create for their own work and workers. Some people have said the code is outdated because it doesn't address social media. Actually, it does. The same guidelines for accuracy, sensitivity, conflicts, independence, and so on can be applied to journalism and its many tools, regardless of the platform. The only specific language I have heard proposed for change is some of the terminology - i.e, sound bites, news teases. But I don't see anything in that particular principle that has been phased out and no longer applies. There's no need to redo the code of ethics because it doesn't have a few current terms in it. Each time someone says "the code doesn't address XX," let's look at the current version and see if that's true. Many of the examples I've heard cited don't always check out (meaning, there actually is at least one principle that addresses that topic and the person doesn't realize it). Finally, it's important to think of possible side effects if the code were changed. All 12 of the foreign-language translations would have to be removed and done over. Some were tricky to get in the first place; we probably would lose them."

— Andy Schotz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"* Journalists now have far greater opportunities to interact with readers/the public via social media, blogs, comment threads, etc. Consider how the Code of Ethics could be revised to better provide ethical guidance in these scenarios. * The anti-discrimination/stereotyping statement doesn't explicitly cover transgender and gender-variant people, though this is implicitly covered by "gender." Consider how to do this, e.g. by including gender identity and expression."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The area on plagiarism should be expanded to indicate what, in fact, the SPJ believes constitutes plagiarism.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The current code seems pretty comprehensive and clear to me. Why has this proposal come about, what do people think is missing? It's hard to say without some idea of the perceived lack/update required.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"First, the code should be tightened: redundancies removed and other superfluous language excised. I'm sure a lot of work and gray hairs went into the construction of this code, but it still reads like an eleventh-hour committee deadline report published before an editor got to it. ("Deliberate distortion is never permissible." Five graphs later: "Never distort the content of news" Next graph: "Avoid misleading re-enactments" which is what? Distorting the news?) Second, the code should include some recognition of privacy issues in this age of omnipresent cameras and microphones. Third, the code should address how professional journalists deal with the noble practices of withholding suspects' names (before charges) and not ID'ing minor suspects or victims during an Internet age of non-professional bloggers (some attached to news services) unrestrained by accepted ethical guidelines. Just some thoughts..."

— Dann Gire


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I think it's always good to review the wording of the Code of Ethics for relevance. One thing I think we are learning is that whenever we attempt to make updates based on technological changes in our field, we are doomed to be behind the times after just one year. I think it would make sense to revise the Code of Ethics so that it doesn't attempt to address specifical technological issues — leave it fairly broadly worded so that it can be applicable as technology changes.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

It seems good as it stands

— Bill Recktenwald


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Obviously, it should be reviewed carefully regarding any unique problems raised by online journalism or problems aggravated by online. The demands of online journalism are no different than those that used to affect the deadline-every-minute paradigm of wire services.. It should not be watered down to reflect the looser ethos that some online practioners have devolved into. A journalist is a journalist and ethics are ethics.

— Bill Hirschman


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I think the code of ethics should be updated to include the new digital age of journalism. Proposed changes: Don't delete tweets and if a mistake is made on Twitter, own up to it. Be clear where photos are from and give context behind them. Balance speed with accuracy.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I think it's a terrific idea to work on an update. It has been 17 years since the last one, and although the Code of Ethics is designed broadly in scope, new challenges and considerations related to journalism have emerged during the past two decades (the dismantling of news operations, social media, the digital divide, growing threats from government intrusion, etc.). All of these have brought new pressures on the profession and those who practice it.

— Butler Cain


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I think it would be a good time to consider the Code in 2013, and whether it still does what we hope it will do.

— Carole McNall


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

This code has stood the test of time very well. That being said, it would be valuable if the code addressed thoroughly addressed new media issues such as social networking (i.e. Can a reporter reveal personal opinions online via social networking? Is it appropriate to borrow comments, photos, and quotes from social networking sites to supplement a story? It seems that some of these issues might be relevant to the concept of minimizing harm.) Also,should the code address the tremendous access to information that digital technology presents and where one should draw the line when choosing to publish information. For example, should the News Journal of White Plains, NY have published the map of gun owners? If now, why? It seems that it would be valuable if the code addressed that sort of information access and the potential infringement on privacy. Might there be a need to consider the 24-hour news cycle in a revised code? It seems that new cycle has lead to a barrage of rumors circulating the Web - rumors that the Boston Marathon bomber was captured before he was, etc. How should the journalist weigh competitive need to operate in a 24-hour news cycle against confirmed factual information?

— Jenn Burleson Mackay


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think you should look less at how to change them and more at how to still be responsible journalists in this age of technology.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

Timeless guideline don't need to be updated.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I have just reread the Code of Ethics - a copy of which is framed on my desk and while I think a lot of opinionated sources of information fail to adhere to it, it seems to cover the needs of any true journalist who embraces the concept of balance and fairness.

— Julie Lane


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Clarification of what actions are appropriate for "a professional journalist." Also clarify what changes are needed to incorporate the new media.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"-Make it a point to interview people/groups from both sides of the political spectrum, not just one side. -Identify the group as "Progressive," "Conservative," etc. -Report news that Corporate Media is not reporting on, which the noncorporate sources are reporting because they are not a part of a mega-corporation, which has interests to protect, like its bottom line to the shareholder.. -The airwaves belong to the people, yet we are not hearing much about man-made climate change, which threatens not only the environment and various species but fishing and other industries. -Fair reporting is not giving equal time to topics that don't warrant it. Pick up any science magazine and you'll get at least 2+ stories on how climate change is negatively impacting the planet. Yet, Corporate Media grants disproportionate air time to climate change deniers, yet Climate scientists are in consensus that global warming is man-made."

— Andrea Baer


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"In this era of lots of mis-information being presented as fact or "news" on the Internet, and the over reliance on social media as "news", is there some way we could helpfully engage in the defining / redefining of journalism itself? We might be able to preserve / enhance the value of professional news gatherers."

— F. Michael Lorz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

If there are any updates, they need to make certain that the code is not weakened.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The only updates I think are need relate to "citizen journalism" and other non-media activities to distribute news.

— Arnold Ismach


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Of course the code of ethics needs to be updated. Journalism functions in a completely different way than it functioned 10 years ago. Democracy functions in a completely different way. Wouldn't our framework for making ethical choices about our work change? I'm not saying the old code is completely irrelevant. But is seems like we need to revise it to reflect some values that are more important today, like communities and transparency.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

In comparing the SPJ Code with the values of the Online News Association, I think adding something about access to news would be good, especially in light of discussions about net neutrality and diversity of news sources.

— Gilbert D. Martinez


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

We work in such a changing industry now that there may be areas previously overlooked that take center stage when it comes to ethics.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I love the code and use it as the basis for decision-making in my Media Ethics classes. I favor a review with consideration for addressing online and social media issues.

— Mary Hausch


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

could use a little editing to make it more concise-otherwise i'm thinking it's fine.

— Charley Preusser


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I've taught reporting classes from the Code for years and find it elegant in its simplicity, enabling undergraduates to better understand serious journalism's culture.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The SPJ code comprises four basic values that apply to journalistic practice regardless of place or platform. Technological developments haven't changed the significance of seeking truth and reporting it, minimizing harm, acting independently and being accountable.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"After reading the current code, I'm impressed that it clearly states my own code of ethics, but it is so wordy! I know that's necessary to cover all possible issues, but could we also have a condensed version to post on our desks where we would see it every day? Thank You for all you do."

— Mary Lou Hinrichsen


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Current code looks good to me.

— K. George


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"This is sure to raise again the old debate about "teeth," and I choose not to enter that fray again. I had the unfortunate task of telling Casey Bukro that this had come up; I think little or no revision is truly necessary. I do have two suggestions for details relevant to recent patterns of insufficiency observed in print and online media and one in TV-onlinevideo: Add "captions" to the list of places that require accuracy: Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context. Add "pursuing the digital trail" to the paragraph about corrections, such as: — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly, pursuing their digital tracks when possible. Somewhere, reinforce the "not misrepresent" idea with reference to gratuitous use of file images and video as eye candy, and especially unlabeled file video that could be misperceived as current."

— John McClelland


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"Here are some items that might be amended: — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others. (The SPJ's own code of ethics implies values it would establish as norms. I think journalists should examine their values, give voice to those with other value systems, and be transparent in the process. I don't think it is possible or appropriate to act without values.) — Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. (This is likely one of the elements prompting this review. While I agree journalists must distinguish news from advertising, I don't know that they must always stand only on one side of the wall. The important thing, I think, is that a reasonable reader should be able to clearly understand the context and nature of the material. We should never fool or confuse readers.) — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility. (The implication here might be that being involved in our communities outside of work necessarily hurts our credibility. I think that's a mistake. Some journalists, in some contexts, can properly take part in activities even when they touch on their work as journalists. Again, transparency and self-reflection are essential.) More broadly, I wonder about the distinction of "professional journalists" from "professional journalism." While I work full time as a journalist, I think these ethical standards should also be embraced by the growing number of people who engage in journalism outside traditional organizational structures. It is more about the process of journalism and less about the person who performs it."

— Douglas Ray


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The code doesn't need to be updated, necessarily. Journalists just actually have to be aware that there is such a thing and be expected to follow it. I recently met a political reporter who was shocked to discover that it wasn't OK for her to host a rally for a particular candidate in her home. Shocking is the word, all right.... SPJ needs to be active in reprimanding journalists who violate it.

— Lauren Yarger


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

Changing the Code of Ethics would be like changing the Ten Commandments. They are permanent and stand as the foundation of good journalism. How could anyone take us seriously if we "tweaked" the rules to cater to the world's ever-changing needs? It's these kind of rules that help provide solidarity and trust and need to remain the same while the rest of the world changes.

— Anna Yee


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

Not sure, just update it to 2013 standards. social media, twitter, all that jazz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

Unnecessary. The ethics code is flexible as it stands and is not technology-specfic. It seems like an unnecessary exercise when there are other things SPJ could be devoting rsources to.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"First, I would modify how it is written. Right now, it seems pedantic, schoolmarmish and finger-wagging. It's great! But it needs help. Can we make it more conversational? I realize it's a code of conduct, not a cookie recipe, but a narrative approach will almost always stick better than a prescriptive set of rules. I initially checked "Not sure," to the update question, but after reviewing the rules, I'm changing it to "Yes." Yes, let's take what we have here and modify it. Let's say what we know and what we don't. An admirable example is the AP's weekly Style Watch emails. Yes, they sometimes have to be concrete ("We're saying Chelsea Manning now," for instance) but usually they acknowledge that journalism is not practiced in a sterile lab with isolated causes and effects, but in a complex, messy world where environmental factors beyond the scope of any one organization's rule set influence the story (and its effects) more than what we can guess from here is the right choice."

— Nigel Duara


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Consider whether new forms of media (social media, etc.) should be specifically mentioned in relation to existing code--and also consider adding points to the code that would pertain only to digital media.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"Haven't looked at it closely enough. It's a highly respected code in the journalism world, so I would be careful to make careless changes that aren't well thought through. That being said, a review never hurts. My question I'd like to be answered in the next SPJ Leads e-mail is what prompted the SPJ administration to consider altering the code? Thanks,"


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"Change the bit on anonymous sourcing to the following: "Avoid using unnamed sources except to protect an innocent or threatened person or when there is no other way to obtain information of compelling public importance. Verify accuracy from at least one other independent source, and explain the reason for anonymity as part of the reporting." Language developed by Fred Brown and Matt Duffy"

— Matt J. Duffy


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"Kelly McBride and Tom Rosensteil's new book, "The New Ethics of Journalism," takes direct aim at the code, advocating transparency where we once preached independence. I don't agree with everything in this book and it would be great if SPJ could weigh in. The argument is if we leave the code as-is, young journalists trained in it will get into newsrooms and become cynical if they see the SPJ code has been cast aside, and wrongly think there's no need for journalism ethics at all."

— Mary Alice Basconi


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think the code should stand as it is. Although at this point it has become a joke — not because of any fault of the code, but because people calling themselves journalists do not even remotely honor it — it is a fine document of which real journalists should be proud. What is needed is a commitment by current journalists to actually live by it. We should not dumb down or debase the code because so many choose not to abide by it. We should instead find ways to change the culture and retrieve our profession's honorable standing in society. Instead of spending time rewriting a code that is quite nearly perfect, spend time and energy transforming media and media policy.

— Maura Stephens


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

We work with teenage journalists at our 20-year-old nonprofit organization, so ethical guidelines on how to and how not to use social media in reporting. We have really struggled to find policies that address ethical journalistic behavior and we'd love guidance from SPJ on how create that for our teen clients.

— Katie Strangis


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The current Code remains a good framework for ethical discussions. While it doesn't address all possible concerns (like social media), it doesn't have to. I'd rather have a thoughtful guiding document than a laundry list of do's and don'ts.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"I think as written we have an important document that covers many issues. I have one issue for consideration or possible addition. Technology has and always will continue to alter the profession. Perhaps we need something that addresses the web, or the ability to be live nearly anywhere and the continuous deadline and pressure that creates. The intensity of having to be first is leading to more inaccuracies, especially when reporters are sent to large scale tragedies such as the Boston Marathon, or the Sandy Hook shootings. The code covers accuracy of course, but perhaps it needs to be addressed in this context."

— Jeffrey Hope


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The Code is timeless. No change in technology or format should affect the ethics we use to guide us.

— Jenna DeWitt


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"I use the Code of Ethics as part of my station's guiding principles for editorial integrity. I believe they represent a reasoned, inclusive identification of important values and standards for our profession. I believe every Code is worthy of review at some point, to avoid antiquated references and/or glaring omissions. I do not note any in the Code...but I have no objection to a thorough review to consider the recommendations of members."

— Ken Verdoia


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

I think the code is specific enough but also broad enough that it provides the right mix of absolutes and wiggle room for a working journalist today.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"There is no urgent need to update the SPJ Code of Ethics. An ethics code is a statement of principles, not law. Any attempt to be more specific, such as inserting in the code articles that address new media, merely sets up the code for continued revision. News gathering and reporting have not changed since the first story was told. The methods have changed, but not the process. And regarding the code, if any change is called for, it’s for simplification rather than additions that address new media and reporting methods. An ethics committee some time ago discussed revision at some length and suggested letting the code stand but linking its articles to online examples and cases that address specific principles. Thus, the code would not have to change to meet media changes. The principles, much the same as those in our US Constitution, would be interpreted and explained by the online library of information linked to the code’s articles. The library could be updated quickly and easily without bothering the code."

— Paul R. LaRocque


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

There has been a shift in the way news is practiced. 20th century ethical principles and foundations are not holding up in the 21st century. The audience is influencing how we report the news and participating in news decision.(See how news was covered at Sandy Hook and with the Boston Marathon bombings). New guidelines for online postings, transparency and collaboration are needed as are guidelines for social media use (everything from personal pages to contacting sources). See Gannett's policy released today.

— Kathleenh Wickham


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I wonder if the people who are grumbling about the current code do so because the code is telling them not to do things that they'd really like to do, but probably shouldn't do. If so, the Code is doing what we intended for it to do in 1996, to tweak consciences. I have no objection to amending the Code to adapt to changing realities, if it is by broad consensus, as we do the U.S. Constitution. But we don't throw out the Constitution every other decade and start from scratch. Thank God!

— Robert Buckman


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"The Code covers just about everything ethical issue imaginable. If I would augment one thing, I'd consider making sure journalists distinguish between reporting and op-ed pieces. In this day and age of the "blogosphere," there is a growing problem of a media illiterate public not being able to know what is a person's opinion versus what is straightforward, objective reporting. A journalist should make sure their readers understand what it is they are reading."

— Justin Joo


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

It is a good document on its face, but does needs to be amended to include guidelines for narrative, literary journalists. They are faced with different ethical dilemmas when gathering information for stories in this form of journalism than news and feature writers are faced with, therefore they need some different guidelines. I propose a more existential type of guidelines/code for them and will send my specific suggestions to the Ethics Committee soon. They are a bit much for this submission field.

— Kim Pewitt-Jones


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I tend to agree with the majority of the comments made at the ethics town hall session at #EIJ13. The bones of the ethics code remain solid and usable. I think we might need to make updates to reflect how the audience (public vs. private) is changing as mentioned by Monica Guzman.

— Dana Neuts


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

I have my Journalism Ethics class do an exercise each semester in which we study the wisdom of changing the code. The biggest add-on is transparency. It's a fascinating process; at first, students are ready to re-write but soon find out the bigger values often are embedded already.

— Mead Loop


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

In scrutinizing it, I believe it is timeless and does not need updating to refer to new forms of news delivery.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I believe the code needs to be updated to emphasize the need for traditional journalistic values at a time when the new technology seems to place speed above ethical behavior. In addition, a revision needs to include members of the media consuming public, so that this code not only reflects their priorities, but would also increase the liklihood of its acceptance and understanding by the public. I do not have any immediate suggestions to offer, but would be willing to participate in any forums of discussion for such a change.

— Max Cacas


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

I have seen one military newspaper run stories from anothet on their website. Despite paper B being linked to a Public Affairs Office, paper A must believe they can run paper B's articles. Paper B has asked them to stop and refuse. I guess this means there is nothing innthe code of ethics abiut this topic.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? No

The existing code more than suffices. Journalists should strive to meet existing standards, not invent new ones.

— Tom Layson


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

All this beard-stroking among journos about why opinion poll after opinion poll reveal the zero confidence the public has in the media. There's a pervasive cluelessness among members of the press that the institution has become all about advocacy of liberal notions, cheerleading for causes that media elites support — no-restriction abortion on demand, gay marriage to name two — that are totally divorced from mainstream America. Why bother having a pretext in the Code of Ethics that says <> The media read like PR sheets for these causes, and it's worse now than it was 10 years ago, or even five. Among the new normal for the press is the lynching it gave the Susan G. Komen breast cancer research charity because it dared defund media darling Planned Parenthood. The media have fully assumed the preferred language of pro-choicers, the implication being that the only "choice" acceptable is abortion. Why not call people opposed to abortion as being pro-life if the media refer to pro-aborts as "pro-choice"? The AP sent out a tweet with a #standwithwendy hashtag, even. My hunch is that many of these advocacy journos are SPJ members. Then there's "diversity." How many people of faith are a part of newsrooms? Is there an active effort to recruit them to allow their voices to be included? Think that may be why there's a pervasive cluelessness about causes that people not like the media elite care about? New York Times editor Bill Keller famously espoused the notion that error has no rights. So who's the rightful judge of who's right and what's wrong? And why are people of faith in the US consistently labeled as "haters" when they simply disagree with liberal stands on divisive issues such as gay marriage and abortion? When I participated in a Poynter Institute workshop 10 years ago it was clear that both Poynter and the other 15 or so journos in attendance had succeeded in insulating themselves from people who believe differently from themselves. That's how GWB blindsided the media and won the 2004 election, against press predictions. If the SPJ is truly interested in understanding the depth of this issue of media cheerleading for causes that the majority public not only does not support but find morally unacceptable, become a reader of the Get Religion blog (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion) that analyzes hits and misses by the press on these issues.

— Deann Alford


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

"I'm a freelance journalist, working almost exclus. for online markets. Linking, use of public quotes from social media, when and how to post emails I've received, ethics guidelines for sourcing images, none of that is in the code right now. Also, I write a lot of essays on topics I'm personally close to. While my readers seem to really like that, and it's become a huge part of my "brand" (man it feels weird to say that) the code doesn't have guidelines for how to walk that line well, between providing helpful/useful reporting to my readers while being honest about my own biases. I do a lot of my work inside Jewish, feminist, and games media, some of the smallest beats out there."


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"I thought it useful to also leave a comment as an organizer for a process for accrediting independent bureaus and independent-national media-working-groups as part of the Project: International Colaborative Media Alliance. It is important to leave room for national variations on ethical standards as generally recognized. The Sydney Morning Standard is one example of one such variation. Another exists for Hong Kong. The list of these at spj.org should be regularly monitored and maintained--very useful, IMHO. We also will be providing editorial guidance and working to provide basic training for citizen-community journalists, as part-timers around the world. Key to this is acceptance of such standards as spj.org and nppa.org. See faceboook page for the media alliance. Q. What are the basic standards for such journalists. Remember, at times these can serve as local, well practiced sources for fulltime journalists. At other times, they are local on the ground when and where needed. In the new century with unprecedented communications, we as journalists must adapt and engage in more dynamic and interactive ways with our audiences. Yes, sometimes, the lines may get blurred. I am impressed by the suggestion to focus on defining the "act of journalism," rather than what a journalist is. US Sen Feinstein, D, CA, is way off the mark in her attempts to impose a standard that has no currency. Makes me remember what Shakespear wroote about "all the lawyers." Just kidding, but you see the point. Legal nitpicking can only block the First Amendment, not develop it for the present era/century. I am Pacific NW editor for this International Collaborative Media Alliance project, US Media Working Group. As noted fb page for the alliance exists."

— Dean Edwards


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

As we know, rapid technological development has changed the world, media landscape included. Therefore, I think ethics surrounding online journalism and social media should be included in the code.

— Jacqueline Armendariz


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"One area is with "Community/Citizen Journalism." Since not everyone is a citizen where they live, Jo Ellen Kaiser of The Media Consortium suggests expanding the meaning of "community journalism" to include all community-based journalists, regardless of citizenship. Building on the "Label" statement in the current code, some attention to part-time journalists should be included fr review, see comment above. I have also been working on a compromise code for reviving the ancient roots of journalism, but stressing "apprehension of truth and increasing understanding" for "bardic journalism" Info will be posted to the fb page for International Collaborative Media Alliance. Finally, some serious consideration should be made to actual commentary re ethics within the journalists' community both in the US and internationally. The problem with both mainstream--commercial and to some extent public, and alternative needs serious scrutiny. Organizations currently reviewing fail to adequately cast a broad ideological-net. FAIR does not even attempt a broad scrutiny. Democracy and Media is better, but some open review could help recapture the increasingly fragmented audience for "the whole story." A good, experienced, expert is the former 50-year president of the national forsensic league, Carmendale Fernandes, Stockton, CA. Still vital and contributing in her eighties. Note: She was my high school speech & debate coach. We might also comment on the industry and individual responsibilities for getting the "whole story" out to better serve the intent as described in the Preamble for the SPJ code of ethics--democracy."

— Dean Edwards


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

"I think as a "Code," the principles it spells out are timeless. However, because of such changes in journalism, there are many more questions and challenges to following a code. What do you do with citizen video that alerted you to the story but perpetrates abuse? What is the right or wrong way to use social media to report on gender-based violence? Rather than "be cautious," "be judicious," "show good taste," I think it would be more relevant to the modern journalist if the SPJ provided something like a Guide to dealing with modern newsroom situations. An issue we've at WITNESS have been thinking about lately that is relevant to this discussion is LGBT violence in Russia. Several online news outlets embedded a video documenting abuse of a victim, but taken without his consent and revealing his identity. (More on that case here: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/08/news-orgs-should-blur-identities-in-videos-end-abuse-by-viral-video)"

— Madeleine Bair


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

The principles of responsible journalism don't change when the technology of the delivery systems changes. In my opinion, the code's various mentions of specific media — explicit and implicit — could easily be removed. It might also be updated to stress the importance of verifying sources, why direct contact is preferable to online browsing, for example. Plagiarism could be defined. In other words, the principles could stand some clarification, but the technologies should be downplayed.

— Fred Brown


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Not sure if update is necessary but with the digital revolution in its midst, it's worth seeing if tweaking is necessary. The major tenets of the code in my opinion remain the same no matter the medium or technology.

— Hagit Limor


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Yes

SPJ should advise on ethical dilemmas presented by social media and the increasingly truth-hungry citizens served by the media.


Do you think the SPJ Code of Ethics needs to be updated? Not sure, but it's good to review

Perhaps the core values represented in the Code are as relevant as ever. But, perhaps some terminology updates are needed. Perhaps a simple document explaining how/why current code is relevant today would suffice. Either way, it must be made to be relevant.

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