Upholding &

Updating
Journalism Values
Steve Buttry
Manship Media Ethics class
January 25, 2017

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Are ethics timeless?
Should ethics be:
1. Timeless, reflecting values unchanged
by technology, markets,
circumstances?
2. Timely, reacting to changes in the
situation where profession is practiced?
3. Rooted in core values but adapting to
change?

Core principles, 1996-2014



Seek truth and report it
Minimize harm
Act independently
Be accountable

Core principles, updated 2014



Seek truth and report it
Minimize harm
Act independently
Be accountable and transparent

Core principles, 1990s-2013
• Seek truth and report it as fully
as possible
• Act independently
• Minimize harm

Core principles, updated 2013
• Seek truth and report it as fully
as possible
• Be transparent
• Engage community as an end,
rather than as a means

Core principles, updated 2015
• Truth and accuracy above all
• Independence and transparency
• Accountability for consequences

Fundamentals in 4 areas



Telling the truth
Conflicts of interests
Community
Professional conduct

Nature of your organization
• Is your journalism impartial or
point-of-view?
• Are your journalists independent
or involved?

Guidance in 45 specific areas,
broken down into 7 groups
• Reporting issues
• Writing and
editing
• Professional
conduct
• Organizational
policies

• Social concerns
• Multimedia and
data
• Financing your
journalism

Reporting issues
• Bombs and other
threats
• Concealing
identity
• Confidential
sources
• Children:
Coverage, images
and interviews

• Hostage
situations
• Interviewing
• Sources:
reliability and
attribution

Each of 45 sections:
• Essay with discussion questions for
staff in deciding policy in this area
• Further reading
• Ethical choices (which you can edit)
• Best practices

Enforcing ethics
• First Amendment bars licensing,
inhibits legal enforcement
• Courts do have jurisdiction in
some areas (defamation/truth,
privacy)
• Employers use ethics codes to
fire unethical professionals
• News councils

Is linking a matter of ethics?
1. It’s a service to the reader,
providing depth, context,
verification (but not every service
to readers is a matter of ethics)
2. Best form of attribution in digital
content
3. Practice of linking can prevent
plagiarism

On all ethics matters

Practice > policy
Conversations > codes

NYT stylebook on
sources

SPJ on confidential sources

Using confidential sources
1. Opinions are worthless without names
2. Beware of eager or powerful people who
won’t be accountable
3. Use confidentiality w/ reluctant sources
4. Should you avoid background briefings?
5. Use confidential sources to get to
documents or on-the-record sources

Read more about it



stevebuttry.wordpress.com
slideshare.net/stevebuttry
@stevebuttry
stevebuttry@lsu.edu