Ethics

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For 40 years, Poynter has guided professional newsrooms in developing ethical principles to support journalism's role in a healthy democracy. In 1981, when a Pulitzer Prize-winning story in The Washington Post about a child heroin addict turned out to be a hoax, Poynter convened industry leaders to identify and implement tighter ethical standards, as we did in 2003 following the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times.

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Poynter trains journalists to avoid ethical failings including conflicts of interest, bias and inaccuracy, and to uphold best practices, such as transparency and accountability. With digital and audiovisual technology innovating at warp seed, news-gathering, storytelling and editing are changing and Poynter faculty help newsrooms keep ethics at the forefront. 

At a time when public trust in media is low and the president has sought to discredit the press as "fake news," it's more essential than ever that journalists be accurate and accountable, shining a light on truth to sustain our democracy.

Poynter makes it easy to develop your ethical decision-making, so you're ready for difficult situations: 

Poynter Results

  • Ethics

    Article

    Half of America thinks we’re making it up

    Distrust of the news media didn’t start with Donald Trump, but he has amplified and stoked those doubts like no American president before him. Trump is also not the first politician to discredit any negative reporting on him, but his effort to undermine a shared understanding of facts conveyed in fair, vetted reporting takes a page from the playbooks of authoritarians in China, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela.

  • Ethics

    Article

    The media needs to do more to elevate a national conversation about ethics

    Presidents, Olympians, congressional leaders, judges, university professors, religious leaders, media stars, military leaders, police, professional and amateur sports celebrities, business titans and a host of others now occupy the burgeoning ranks of debunked heroes. I now expect to open a newspaper or website or turn on my TV and find a daily moral disappointment staring back at me with his lawyer in the background, apology in hand.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Marty Baron: Fair and honest reporting 'will be validated over the long run'

    As journalists, we tend to assume the public understands our jobs and how we do them — that we labor to hold officials and powerbrokers accountable, we pursue stories in the public interest, we operate independently of political parties or interest groups, we don’t pay for or fabricate information, we check facts and correct mistakes. The evidence is overwhelming, however, that our motivations and methods are deeply misunderstood.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Follow our coverage of the Poynter Journalism Ethics Summit in Washington

    A who's who of leading Washington correspondents and editors are convening in Washington, D.C., today for the inaugural Poynter Journalism Ethics Summit.

    The summit is timed almost a year to the day when Donald Trump was elected president and began his assault as "Fake News" on the media. The summit is intended to focus on strengthening political reporting and increasing trust in the media is this polarized era.

  • Ethics

    Article

    What journalists can learn from the Brian Ross suspension

    This weekend, ABC News suspended one of broadcast journalism's most honored reporters, Brian Ross. The network suspended Ross without pay for his reporting on Friday that said during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump had asked retired general Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials.  ABC explained the error this way:

  • Ethics

    Article

    Why NBC had to act fast in firing Lauer

    NBC News is the latest media organization that is sending a signal that other institutions and industries could follow —that nobody is too important to be held accountable for their actions.

    Compare how NBC handled the allegation about Matt Lauer's alleged inappropriate behavior and CBS' handling of complaints about morning anchor Charlie Rose to how FOX News handled allegations against network founder Roger Ailes and anchor Bill O'Reilly.

 
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