My Personal Ethics Code: A few guidelines to become a better journalist

Refer to this before every story. It is important. It will save you from many mistakes, help you decide what’s right, and guide you to become a respectable journalist. It’s your personal ethics code, so live up to it.

Accuracy: a gateway for truth, trust, and respect

Accuracy is a gateway ethical value. It will automatically lead to truth, respect, and trust. It can be as broad as making sure the story is one worth writing, to as narrow as making sure a last name is spelled correctly. Fact checking everything is worth your time. Mistakes will lessen your credibility as a journalist. If your story is not accurate, you will lose the respect and trust of your readers. Both things, respect and trust, are hard values to build as a journalist but easily broken with inaccuracy. After all, relaying the truth to the public is your foremost responsibility.

Independence: an ability to be solely a bystander

Stay independent. It adds more to the story. Do not lean one way or the other unless instructed to do so. Remain unbiased. Remain a bystander. This allows you to be unattached to the story. It allows you to avoid conflicts of interest. It allows you to take your personal opinions out of your written word. It may be hard, but reporting is better this way. Let the reader form his or her own ideas.

Minimizing harm: an attempt at making everyone happy

Try your best to attempt an ends-based approach. Avoid as much harm as you can. It is nearly impossible to make everybody happy, but it is worth a shot. You as a journalist have a chance at changing things about this world. You as a journalist have a chance at making a difference. You have a chance at helping, informing, teaching, and enlightening strangers. Try to focus on all the good you can do as a journalist and minimize the bad.

This short list will help you focus on what is important when starting a new project. It won’t always have the answer, but it will lead you in the right direction. Take a quick look at it before any assignment. It’s the ethical thing to do.

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