Ethics Review – Spring 2016

The basics:

  • “The criteria that professional reporters and editors use to decide what news is can be summarized in three words: Relevance, Usefulness, Interest.” – News Reporting and Writing
  • There is a saying: “A reporter is only as good as her sources.” Reporters seek the person most qualified to speak with authority and authenticity. Students are not allowed to use friends or relatives as sources for stories (because really, what’s the point?)
  • 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. Students may only use third-party content (photos, music, graphics) in their course work if they obtain permission from the creator or it is licensed under Creative Commons.
  • Take responsibility for your work.

1. Code of Ethics
Students are expected to adhere to the SPJ code of ethics.

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

Plagiarism and fabrication are serious offenses. Do not use words, photos, or other kinds of content without proper attribution and copyright permission. This includes copying content from the Internet. Plagiarism also includes passing off another’s work as your own or giving your work to another student. Fabrication is deliberately inventing or altering information with the intent to deceive. Anyone caught plagiarizing or fabricating could receive an F for the course.

All assignments must be completed for this class only. Submitting work from another class, in part or in full, is considered academic dishonesty.

Students may only use third-party content (photos, music, graphics) in their course work if they obtain permission from the creator or it is licensed under Creative Commons.

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 journalists are journalists. Own it. But also keep in mind that 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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