Hands-On Journalism Ethics (2022)


Hands-On Journalism Ethics (2022)

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Learning Outcomes

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

  • Identify ethical issues in stories you cover.
  • Understand the guiding principles and values of ethical journalism.
  • Develop and follow a rational process for figuring out your options when faced with an ethics problem.
  • Practice sound ethical decision-making.
  • Justify the decisions you make to your editors, your colleagues and your audience.


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At Poynter, we believe democratic values are critical to the creation of powerful journalism. This is not a course to work through once and leave behind. You are likely to find yourself coming back to it again and again for help making challenging decisions and to learn from others who have faced similar dilemmas.

Journalism’s ethical guidelines are rooted in democratic values. That makes ethical decision-making as essential to a journalist’s craft as interviewing, writing, editing, photography and design. As a journalist, you can — and should— hone this skill.

This course is designed to give you the techniques and tools you need to confront complex and complicated ethical issues. When you gain the confidence and competence in making ethical choices, you will be skilled at defending your tough calls to your editors, your colleagues and your audience.

Finally, recognize that every newsroom creates an environment, or a culture, that fosters ethical choices. Ideally, newsrooms want that culture to be healthy— a place where journalists can discuss the many values that influence the work— and constantly learn from each other. You might think of a newsroom like a big garden. The garden produces journalism.  Having clear standards that are commonly embraced by the entire staff will nourish great stories that serve the public.



  • Kelly McBride
    Senior Vice President and Chair of Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership
    Kelly McBride is a journalist, consultant and one of the country’s leading voices on media ethics and democracy. She is senior vice president and chair...
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