Navigating Ethical Dilemmas: Connecting Core Values and Journalistic Action

About this product

Have you recently faced an ethical dilemma and weren’t quite sure how to handle it? This course gives journalists and journalism organizations a toolkit to navigate the ethical dilemmas inherent in newsgathering, reporting and publishing and an ethical decision-making process that you can apply in your daily work.

Teaching dates: Nov. 10 – Dec. 10, 2019


SKU: NUOGS13-19 Categories: ,


Teaching dates

Nov. 10 – Dec. 10

Course meeting times

Attend live online training sessions on the following dates and times:

Meeting Day: Tuesdays
Meeting Time: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern
Meeting Dates: Nov. 12, Nov. 19 , Dec. 3, Dec. 10, 2019

You can’t work in the news business without facing ethical challenges. Journalists and journalism organizations experience ethical dilemmas every day. In this course, you’ll learn a practical process for identifying and resolving ethics issues, and you’ll explore some of the common problems that pop up in daily journalism. You’ll get better at discussing challenges and resolving them. And we’ll flex the intellectual muscles critical to making strong decisions: identifying alternatives, connecting our core journalistic values with the particular choice at hand, and transparently explaining those choices to our audience.

Via instructor-led online sessions and self-directed case studies, you’ll consider questions like:

  • How should journalists treat old social media posts made by an individual in the news?
  • How are you and your organization influenced, overtly or subtly, by your revenue sources? How do your revenue sources impact your decision-making? How do you relate this to your audience?
  • When it comes to suicide and mass shootings, and the potential public health risks of covering these societal problems poorly, what does “good” coverage look like?
  • How should you work with your sources? How do you balance your need to maintain future access to sources with your obligation to tell your audience the truth of what you know?
  • What steps do you take to ensure vulnerable sources, like immigrants or crime victims, are capable of truly informed consent?

Amid heightened scrutiny and wavering public trust in the news media, it is imperative that newsrooms make healthy ethical decisions on every story. Amid the shrinking number of jobs in journalism and the increased pressure to build a robust brand on social media, it is critical for journalists at every experience level and in every newsroom department to be competent in working through ethical choices. This course will help, whether you are new to the industry, working in a newsroom that hasn’t recently updated its ethics guidelines or producing journalism in a high pressure environment without a lot of room for error.

Course learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize the ethical decision-making process, its parts and guiding principles
  2. Apply the process to specific ethical decisions
  3. Become adept at using questions to facilitate the ethical decision-making process
  4. Identify common ethical dilemmas and use language to surface them
  5. Navigate alternatives that connect your decisions with your core values of your news organization

Who should take this course?

Journalists at all levels including leaders of journalism organizations

Your instructor:

Kelly McBride

Kelly McBride is a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She has been on the faculty of The Poynter Institute since 2002 and is its senior vice president. She is also the Craig Newmark Journalism Ethics Chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. Before joining Poynter, she was a daily newspaper reporter in the Northwest for 15 years. Kelly served as ESPN’s ombudsman in 2012 and 2013. She has been a featured speaker at SXSW, the Online News Association annual conference and the Aspen Festival of Ideas. Her side hustle is the Everyday Ethics podcast.

The world’s largest newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR and the BBC, frequently seek her advice for internal decisions and quote her expertise in their stories. She is the co-editor, along with Tom Rosenstiel, of The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century, which features essays by 14 thought leaders and practitioners, as well as a new code of ethics for journalists and people who care about journalism.

She is a leading expert on covering sexual assault, suicide and mental health issues, plagiarism, and the connection between an ethical press and a strong democracy.

Apply for a scholarship

The Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership

A limited number of scholarships of up to 50% of the course tuition are available to applicants with demonstrated need thanks to the generous support of The Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership. To apply for a scholarship, email with why you are interested in taking this course and why paying full tuition would prohibit you from access to it. 

About online group seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual training room on scheduled course meetings dates and times. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides feedback.

The online group seminar includes self-directed components include instructional materials and activities in a variety of media.  You can log in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks to interact with the course.

Time estimate

This course consists of instruction equivalent to fifteen hours of time spent in learning. The content of this course unfolds over several weeks. The minimum time commitment each week is three to four hours. Participation in scheduled live meetings across the span of the course is equivalent to four hours. Self-directed modules allow you to to learn on a schedule that works for you. These learning activities equate to eleven hours of time spent in learning.


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