Keepin’ It Real: Best Practices & Codes of Ethics

The Society of Professional Journalists has a great code of ethics on their web site. I bring this up because of a discussion thread on Cindy Green’s Videojournalist blog about the ethics of setting up a shot vs. creating a scene.

Another great resource is the “Television Journalists Best Practices” by Av Westin available from the Freedom Forum.

And finally don’t forget the Radio-Television News Directors Assoc. Code of Ethics.

Making ethical decisions in what we shoot, how we shooting and how we choose our topics is one of the most difficult things to teach and teach well. Hope these help.

Mr. C

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2 Comments

  1. Teach…part of the problem is that even if you teach ethics and thoroughly ground your students in it, they will still have to face some very real world problems. I’m not heading back into the morass of the debate on Lenslinger’s blog or mine – but here’s another example. You are given an assignment fifty miles away. It begins in half an hour. You are told to get the opening ceremony. What are your choices? News photogs are often put into impossible situations. Do you speed – that’s wrong. Do you drive safely – your job could be in danger. In a good newsroom, logic is king. In a bad newsroom both logic and ethics are given lip service if you’re lucky. But they aren’t observed. I’ve been in situations where I’ve bent the code a mite more than I was comfortable. I’ve also been in situations where I’ve stood up and put my job on the line – offered to quit. Each person has to draw their own lines and be able to live with themselves. But anytime you break or bend the code – know that you did it, why you did it, and immediately reset your internal code back to where it should be. We’re all human – we all err. But we should always strive for perfection.

  2. I agree with you Cindy and thanks for the comment. I guess I’m just trying to tell my audience, academic journalism and media teachers, that we really need to do a good job of stressing ethical behavior – because they will end up in the real world and face these dilemmas. If they didn’t have a good grounding in high school and college, then they won’t even know that they are doing wrong. And then, that is our fault as teachers.


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