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Operating ethically should be a journalists or news outlets top priority when working to deliver news to a community. Journalists and news outlets can topple empires with their information. Information is so powerful for people to know about that totalitarian cultures will seek to suppress it at all costs. 

Dictatorships need complete control over the kinds of information that is allowed to be presented to the public. Without the support of its people dictators would be less effectual in controlling their lives. Information in China for example is tightly controlled as is the monitoring of their citizens activity at all times. A high standard of journalistic ethical integrity helps to ensure that hostile or government forces do not present undue misinformation to their citizens controlling their lives and controlling their thoughts.

The Society of Professional Journalists have a code of ethics organised in to four main themes; seek truth and report it, minimise harm, act independently and be transparent. You will be able to view the full list of the society of professional journalists code of ethics at the end of this segment.

Seek truth and report it

Journalists should:

Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work, verify information before releasing it and use original sources whenever possible.

Never sacrifice speed for accuracy.

Provide context taking special care not to misrepresent or over simplify information presented.

Identify sources clearly and give the public as much information as possible to judge reliability, quality and motives of the source.

Provide access to source material.

Never deliberately distort facts or context.

The clip below is an ABC News segment reporting on fighting in Syria.

The footage of gunfire and explosions was taken from a shooting range in the US from a location known as “Knob Creek”.

Here is more footage from Knob Creek shooting range

In terms of seeking truth and reporting it, what ethical standards do you think ABC News has violated?

Minimise harm

Journalists should:

Show compassion for those affected by the news coverage.

Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity

Act independently

Journalists should:

Be honest and open about sources of funding. Sources of funding should not be obscured to hide the true source of the funding.

Be open and honest about conflicts of interest.

Be honest about their intentions.

Click this image to view the full list of ethical standards from the Society of Professional Journalists

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Sources are like pieces of evidence that a journalist or news outlet

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