Ethics Talk

The basics:

  • Be clear, upfront and honest about who you are and what you are doing.
  • “Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.”
  • Tell everyone you interview, quote, photograph, or record that you are reporting for a public website.
  • Attribute facts and information.
  • Seek to do original reporting first. Get your own quotes, take your own photos, record your own audio, shoot your own videos.
  • Assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly states otherwise.
  • If you are using copyrighted work, you need permission. If you are using copyrighted work and you do not obtain permission, you must determine if it is covered under fair use.
  • Take responsibility for your work.

1. Code of Ethics
Students are expected to adhere to a blogger’s code of ethics.

2. Academic Honesty
Students must adhere to the Rowan University policy on academic honesty.

Two main terms and concepts:
“Falsification occurs when a student intentionally fabricates or invents information or citations in any academic exercise.”

“Plagiarism occurs when a student intentionally and knowingly represents the words or ideas of another as his or her own in any academic exercise.”

3. Public vs. Private Places
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but freedom of access is not protected.

In general, you do not need permission to report in public places like streets, sidewalks, beaches, parks, train stations, or university campuses.

Some restrictions may apply to airports, schools, or individual public or government buildings.

If you are on private property (medical facility, movie theater lobby, business office, restaurant, mall, store, or a private home) you need to obtain permission to report. If someone asks you to leave private property, you must leave.

4. Public vs. Private Citizens
Private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence, or attention.

5. Minors
If you are interviewing or shooting photos or video of minors (under 18 years of age), you must obtain permission from a parent or guardian. Download waiver form for minors (.doc)

6. Student reporter vs. Professional journalist
Student reporters do not enjoy all of the legal protections of a professional journalist and they do not have a news organization with lawyers to back them up.

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