Before the early 1900s, journalism in the U.S. was completely unregulated, leading to lies and sensationalist statements frequently going to print. Thankfully, due to the eventual implementation of ethical codes and standards, the quality of the nation’s journalism turned around. It is upon these ethical standards that today’s informative and truthful journalism rests — standards that all journalism students should know.
In This Lesson
- The journalism landscape before ethics
- What are ethics?
- Why should journalists use ethical guidelines?
- SPJ Code of Ethics content
[Click here to view and use the Google Slide Presentation “Journalism Ethics”]
Solve the Ethical Dilemma
Using the SPJ Code of Ethics, students will read through five ethical scenarios and determine how they would act under the described circumstances. Students will reference specific principles from the SPJ Code in their answers, familiarizing themselves with its content in the process.
[Click here to view and print the Google Doc handout “Solve the Ethical Dilemma”]
[Click here to view and print the answer key for the “Solve the Ethical Dilemma” activity]
[Click here to view and print a PDF of the SPJ Code of Ethics for student use]
Create Your Own Newsroom Ethics Code
As the journalism landscape continues to evolve, today, there are many definitions of who a “journalist” might be and what professional guidelines they should follow. In this activity, students will use the Online News Association’s “Build Your Own Ethics Code” tool to create a comprehensive code of how they see journalism ethics, participating in ethical discussions and debates along the way.
[Click here to view and print the Google Doc handout “Create Your Own Newsroom Ethics Code”]