In the public’s eye, journalists hold a position of trust. They are expected to report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But the truth might not always be black and white and ethics can be a complicated issue. If you’re considering enrolling in a degree program in professional writing with the goal of becoming a journalist, then you’ll feel right at home at Grand Canyon University. As a faith-based school, our educational approach is centered firmly on strong values and ethical decision-making. Check out the core values and ethics in journalism below:
Compassion and Sensitivity
Although compassion and sensitivity are important values, they might not seem to be relevant to journalism at first look. But look a little closer, and you’ll find that some of the ethical dilemmas journalists face can be addressed with both of these core values. As an example, let’s say that Joan the journalist is reporting on a story about a local high school track star who fought off an attempted abduction. Since the athlete is a high school student, she is clearly a minor. It’s crucial that journalists avoid printing the names of juveniles involved in sensitive matters, like crimes. The same applies to victims of highly personal crimes, such as sexual assault. Journalists must constantly weigh the public’s need to know with the article subject’s need for privacy.
It can be tricky to remove all potential bias from a news article because there are many forms that bias can take. In journalism, bias isn’t always obvious. One of the most common pitfalls for journalists is to remove information from its proper context. For instance, let’s say Joan the journalist is reporting on a town official, Willy, who has been accused of misappropriating public funds. Joan finds a quote from a years-old interview with Willy, in which he said, “I love taking expensive vacations.” Printing the quote as is wouldn’t be inaccurate, but it lacks context, particularly if Willy had gone on to say, “I’m fortunate that my wife is a travel agent, and we get great discounts on travel expenses.” See how context can make a substantial difference in meaning? Journalists must always consider whether facts require context to reveal their true, intended meaning.
Another way to remove any hint of bias from your reporting is to include all possible perspectives. Your job is to convey the facts and allow your readers to interpret them. For example, let’s say that Joan is headed down to Puerto Rico to report on the power outage, which has persisted for over half a year since Hurricane Maria. She interviews residents, all of whom express frustrations about the delays. Some residents may have strong opinions about the causes of the delays. But unless Joan also interviews officials who are responsible for restoring power, her article won’t have all the necessary perspectives. Good journalists make every effort to seek the whole truth before publishing anything.
Grand Canyon University invites aspiring journalists to click on the Request More Information button. It’s your portal to discovering all that our College of Humanities and Social Sciences has to offer, including our Bachelor of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing. Students who graduate from this program enter the employment marketplace with a portfolio of polished writing samples.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.