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

    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.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Dirty, big secrets: Why won’t CNN and Fox account for their mistakes?

    In a nondescript training room above the newsroom in the old New York Times building, five reporters, two researchers and two editors labored around the clock for a week in May 2003 to get to the bottom of one of the most egregious cases of malpractice in American journalism: Jayson Blair’s short and spectacular career of fraud and plagiarism in the pages of the Times.

  • Ethics

    Article

    Lessons from the Nat Geo eclipse photo dustup

    Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Ken Geiger is catching plenty of praise — and heat — for a stunning image of the recent solar eclipse he posted on Instagram. Geiger, a freelance photographer and former deputy director of photography at National Geographic, drew more than 15,000 "likes" for a black-and-white version of the image on his Instagram page; the Nat Geo Instagram page raked in more than 2 million.

 
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