Most journalists learn the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics and model their professional decision-making after the code.
Student journalists should use SPJ’s code as a guide for ethical behavior. But student journalists also experience ethical issues unique to the college environment. SPJ doesn’t address these issues, making it important for student media outlets to have their own codes of ethics.
The code of ethics for the student media staff I advise originated with the Associated Collegiate Press’s model, which is provided to all members. The editorial board then built from this foundation to create an ethical code most suited to our campus environment.
During the next few weeks, we will look at specific portions of our code of ethics, and I will explain why you might find these entries helpful to include in your own student media staff’s code.
The initial component of any code of ethics is the overview that explains its purpose. Here is ours:
To seek and publish truth is the two-step goal of all journalists, not excluding those working for Student Publications at Oklahoma City University.
To help students be true to the goal of journalists, Oklahoma City University Student Publications officials adopted this code of ethics for students to follow. The code contains standards of conduct and moral judgments.
The code brings uniformity and truth to the campus newsgathering process and student journalists’ search for education and experience.
The code answers questions and reminds student journalists that standards of honesty and performance exist and are important to Student Publications.
The code should not be viewed as a burden. It is a tool that allows student journalists to gather and publish news free of uncertainty.
Operating under the code also helps safeguard the public trust given to journalists and leads to greater credibility for Oklahoma City University’s Student Publications staffs.
Following the code of ethics is required of all students working on Oklahoma City University’s Student Publications staff. Failure to do so can result in termination.”
Please feel free to use this code of ethics overview statement to draft your own.
We’ll begin next week with specific aspects of the code, starting with those portions of our ethical code dealing with student government.