Many journalism organizations offer ethics guidelines, including the Canadian Association of Journalists, which has both a general statement of principles for ethical journalism and an expanded ethics guidelines.
Some other journalist' codes of conduct include:
Society of Professional Journalists (USA)
National Union of Journalists (UK)
Journalism Code of Ethics (New Zealand)
RTNDA Canada's Code of Ethics for electronic journalists
Guide de déontologie des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ)
– English version: Professional Code of Ethics for Quebec Journalists
Communications Workers of America, Canada (includes several newspaper and media guilds)
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP Media/Canadian Freelance Union)
National Society of Newspaper Columnists Code of Conduct (North America)
Association of Opinion Journalists Basic Statement of Principles
Many major news organizations provide guidelines for editorial staff, though not all these documents are available to the public. Of special interest may be the ethics guidelines of The Canadian Press and The New York Times Company.
None of these codes is intended as, or useful as, a rule book for every occasion. Lists of guidelines may help in clarifying some widely accepted norms of practice, but journalists' work calls for frequent decisions of individual and collective conscience which often involve balancing conflicting values and analyzing complex situations. Still, as Stephen J.A. Ward has suggested, codes can, if incorporated into newsroom discussions, inform moral reasoning and promote public accountability.
Not-a-lot-of-skill-testing question: which “local newspaper” does the Toronto Star mean when it reports:
“Two and a half hours earlier, Ford was hosting a news conference to
explain why it appeared he had not told the truth to a local newspaper
about being charged with drug possession.”
Very Big Clue: why, it’s the same unnameable organ that the Globe and Mail refers to when it reports:
“Mr. Ford’s bad Thursday began when he called a 9 a.m. news conference to
explain a story in a local newspaper that said the candidate had
forgotten until reminded of it that he beat a charge of possessing a
The answer, for those who don’t want to read every newpaper every day, comes from the National Post, which gives credit where credit’s due, and steers true to the mission of plain old-fashioned clarity about plain facts:
“At a hastily called news conference, Mr. Ford addressed his past after
the Toronto Sun confronted him
with evidence he was charged with marijuana possession in Florida in
1999; that charge was later dropped.” (Complete with the hyperlink, mind.)
Now the real question: what justifies the traditional coyness that news organizations so often have with naming other news organizations? To the ordinary reader, especially in the Age of Google, it surely looks rather infantile.
Continue Reading Guess which Toronto newspaper….
In which Ivor Shapiro, an old-dog reporter who just happens to be J-Source's Ethics editor, explains how he learned, first-hand, that the new tricks of real-time reporting can be perilous. As a penance for the journalist's first sin of not verifying before publishing, he assigned himself the task of writing out what happened — in Tweet style.
After nine years in court, the National Post has been
ordered to hand
over its Shawinigate document in a Supreme Court ruling that offers mixed results
for the protection of sources. The
Canadian Press reported the decision means journalists have no constitutional
right to protect
their sources. The Canadian Association of Journalists initially called the case “a blow for source protection” while Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’s reaction was that the good outweighed the bad. This
National Post article states that the ruling explicitly recognizes
journalists’ right to protect their sources, although not in all cases. A Globe and Mail editorial agrees that, while the
National Post lost its case, the Supreme Court affirmed source protection and ‘The
Right to Tell Untold Stories.’
The National Post has posted a helpful
step-by-step guide to the
legal arguments. Later this week NP editor-in-chief Doug Kelly will discuss the ruling in
For further background, read the full
text of the judgement, and this detailed analysis in J-Source’s legal section.
A week after ProPublica accepts one of journalism’s top prizes for a story funded by foundations and universities, Cecil Rosner examines the growing trend of non-profit, non-partisan investigative journalism. Will it be the saviour the industry needs?
Continue Reading Alternative journalism: from slur to Pulitzer
Former board member Deborah Campbell, one of many supporters of the Canadian Association of Journalists who abandoned it in 2004-2005, explains why she left — and why she thinks the CAJ cannot move forward without addressing its past. “L’Affaire Cameron, or What’s Wrong With the CAJ,” is Campbell’s response to the “Open letter from the CAJ” posted recently on J-Source.
Continue Reading An open letter about the CAJ
Broadcasters in Quebec and Australia are in hot water for on-air references to the sexual orientation of Olympic figure skaters.
In Canada, a gay rights group wants a public apology from French-language broadcaster over comments about figure skater Johnny Weir, reported AP. The story added that Australia’s Channel Nine “reportedly received complaints from viewers after two of its hosts joked about the masculinity of Weir and other male skaters.”
Continue Reading Broadcasters criticized by gay rights group
How well did social media and journalism perform when some twit reported that Canadian music icon Gordon Lightfoot had died? Not so well, says Dale Bass.
Continue Reading Reports of Lightfoot death greatly exaggerated