Law and Ethics

It is a journalist's responsibility to tell the story the right way. The journalistic code of ethics is ingrained in my system, and it is always on my mind before I begin writing a story. As a reporter, I must be fair, accurate and objective. I cannot go into the story with a preconceived notion about what the story is going to be about. I must keep an open mind, or else I will provide misinformation to our readers.

Also, it is essential that I keep my personal opinion out of any story, treat my interview subjects with courtesy and respect and consider the impact of the story. As journalists, we hold the power of news media, which can be used in good or bad ways. It is our responsibility to use the stories we write to impact our society for the better and represent our community in the best way possible. 

As I became a better journalist, I understood further the importance and role of student publications. Since I entered the journalism program at our school, I have learned about the historical events and significant documents that summarize and describe what responsible journalism is and how it came to be.

Beginning Journalism Curriculum: Creating the Foundation for Responsible Journalism

When I think about where I first learned about the journalistic code of ethics, I come back to the law and ethics portion of our beginning journalism course — a class that freshmen must take in order to advance in the program. Within the unit, beginning journalism students learn about the ethical rights and responsbilities of journalists through real-life examples. 

Critical court cases such as Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier and Tinker v. Des Moines School District along with meaningful developments in journalism's history, including the John Peter Zenger trial and the advancements of printing through the Industrial Revolution, all provide valuable insight into the power of a free press. Through this curriculum, I have established a strong foundation and understanding of news media integrity.

In the slideshows below, I have highlighted the important content from each article that impacts us as journalists today. Click to enlarge.

Law and Ethics Instruction

As managing editor, I have to make sure that we remain aware of responsible news media. In late January, I had an opportunity to direct my staff's attention to a very pertinent story that was going on in the country.

On National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) Meet the Press, President Donald Trump's senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, claimed that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's comments on the "largest inauguration audience ever" were "alternative facts." As journalists, we must present the truth and be able to identify falsehoods. In what seems to be an exaggeration by Spicer, the "largest inauguration crowd ever" is an inaccurate statement, making his comments and Kellyanne Conway's justification an example of unethical and unreliable news media.

During our journalism class, I made sure that my staff members were aware of the situation and initiated a conversation with them about the entire incident. We talked about how news media informs millions, and it cannot come to the point where people do not know what to believe when they consume news. It is our job as journalists to be above reproach and present the facts as we seem them to our reader — not alternative facts that are fabricated to prove a point.

Here is an image of the article that I read. Click   here   to read it in its entirety.

Here is an image of the article that I read. Click here to read it in its entirety.

National Scholastic Press Association's (NSPA) Code of Ethics

On The ReMarker, we follow a detailed and descriptive code of ethics. In the beginning journalism course and throughout our careers in the journalism program, we are constantly reminded to revisit NSPA's model code of ethics. This document includes every aspect of our responsibilities as journalists. When I am about to write an investigative piece, issue-driven story or an impactful editorial, I go back and look over NSPA's code of ethics to reaffirm my purpose as a journalist. 

Click here to read the document.

A screenshot of NSPA's key guidelines to responsible journalism, which can be found in the code of ethics document linked above.

A screenshot of NSPA's key guidelines to responsible journalism, which can be found in the code of ethics document linked above.