Discussion of Journalism Ethics

Story By Montana Peterson

Professor discusses journalism ethics in university class

Jim Fisher, a professor of communication, discussed the ethics of journalism with a newswriting class on Monday, September 26.

Fisher led into the lecture with the difference between morality and ethics. Fisher defined “ethics [as] a decision making process.”

“It’s not measured against any law book, it’s not measured against any moral code, it’s measured against ourselves,” said Fisher.

According to the Code of Ethics by the Society of Professional Journalists, on which Fisher is a board member, ethical journalists and ethical decisions are based on seeking truth and reporting it.

Reporting the truth may not always be the easiest thing to do when gathering information and reporting it, but it is essential to be a honest and fair journalist.

Reporting the truth can be hard because it is not the only concern of reporters.  According to the SPJ Code of Ethics, it is a reporter’s job to minimize the harm that could potentially come from publishing an article; however, sometimes the harm is unavoidable.

“Journalism ethics is almost always about to publish or not to publish,” said Fisher.

Many of the students found Fisher’s lecture very insightful and helpful.
“Reporting the truth is what you have to do,” said Brenda Mandujano, a student of the newswriting class.

“Fisher’s lecture was extremely useful,” said Scott Stuart, a student of the newswriting class.  “It helped me distinguish the difference between morals and laws and how to make an ethical decision.”