Monday, December 8, 2008

The principles closest to me.

Picking just three "most important" journalistic standards is a hard thing to do because they are all important to the practice of journalism in all formats. If I had to choose though, I would say that Transparency, protecting sources and accuracy are at the top of my list.

Transparency for me means that my reader knows what knowledge and biases, if any, I come to the table with. It also means I am open about mistakes I make and readily make the truth available to readers. I like the way the book poses the questions a reporter should ask themselves when considering their own transparency:
  • How do you know what you know?
  • Who are your sources?
  • How direct is their knowledge?
  • Are there conflicting acounts?
  • What don't you know?
  • What was this story, photo or name published?
  • Why were other words, photos and names withheld from publication?

On the issue of protecting sources, I am growing more aware. I came to my Media Ethics(MCOM-443) class this semester knowing that I should protect sources because they had given me information so it was only fair. But moving through the content of the class, I keep asking myself just how far I would go to protect my source. Would I go to jail? Would I defy an editor? Protecting confidential sources is important because many times critical information comes from the inside of an operation. The source is risking a lot by coming forward--it seems only natural to protect them for helping me.

Accuracy is a very important principle to me because without accuracy, I can never really do honest work. I feel finding accuracy and truth in stories is extremely important because if I have no credibility how can any reader trust me to tell them the truth? Magazines which focus on having the most outragous headline over accuracy concern me because I would never want people to consider this format journalism. Further, I could never write for these magazines because I could never stand behind my work. Accuracy gives me the courage to stand behind my reporting.

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