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

    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.

  • Ethics

    Article

    How to write about Nazis

    I was 22 when I covered my first skinhead march as a cops reporter in the Coeur d’Alene bureau of the Spokesman-Review newspaper.

    We were under constant pressure from the community to ignore the white supremacists among us, even though the FBI had a five-person bureau in Coeur d’Alene just to keep track of them all.

  • Ethics

    Article

    'Lone wolf' or 'terrorist'? How bias can shape news coverage

    Editor’s note: We revised a conclusion in this column to reflect the complete, multi-part definition of domestic terrorism under the U.S. Code. We don’t know the Las Vegas shooter’s motives so we can’t call him a terrorist.  

    Many news reports have dubbed the horrific massacre in Las Vegas “the deadliest shooting in American history.” The only problem with the dramatic superlative? It isn’t true.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Twitter dustups are a reminder: Journalists, you are what you tweet

    The surprise departure from Twitter on Monday of New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush, who tweeted that the medium is “too much of a distraction,” is the latest illustration of the double-edged sword that journalists’ favorite social platform has become for the news industry.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Was an Indian journalist's undercover sting justified? After a suicide, ethical questions remain

    An Indian journalist faces criminal charges after a soldier she interviewed without his knowledge committed suicide earlier this year. The journalist, Poonam Agarwal, did not tell the soldier that she was a reporter or that a hidden camera was rolling while she was speaking with him. Although his image in the published video of their conversation was blurred, Indian Army officials claim her actions led directly to his death.

 
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