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So you think you are a journalist…


The Canons of Journalism, ethical rules of the profession, as adopted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 28th, 1923

1) RESPONSIBILITY-The right of a newspaper to attract and hold readers is restricted by nothing

but considerations of public welfare. The use a newspaper makes of the share of public attention it

gains, serves to determine its sense of responsibility, which it shares with every member of its staff. A journalist who uses his power for any selfish or otherwise unworthy purpose is faithless to a high trust.

2) FREEDOM OF THE PRESS-Freedom of the press is to be guarded as a vital right of mankind.

It is the unquestionable right by law, including the wisdom of any restrictive statute. To its privileges

under the freedom of American institutions are inseparably joined its responsibilities for an intelligent

fidelity to the Constitution of the United States.

3) INDEPENDENCE-Freedom from all obligations except that of fidelity to the public interest is


A. Promotion of any private interest contrary to

the general welfare, for whatever reason, is not

compatible with honest journalism. So-called news

communications from private sources should not be

published without public notice of their source or

else substantiation of the claims to value as news,

both in form and substance.

B. Partisanship in editorial comment which

knowingly departs from the truth does violence to

the best spirit of American journalism; in the news

columns it is subversive of a fundamental principle

of the profession.

4) SINCERITY, TRUTHFULNESS, ACCURACY- Good faith with the reader is the foundation

of all journalism worthy of the name.

A. By every consideration of good faith, a newspaper

is constrained to be truthful. It is not to be

excused for lack of thoroughness, or accuracy within

its control, or failure to obtain command of these

essential qualities.

B. Headlines should be fully warranted by the

contents of the articles which they surmount.

5) IMPARTIALITY – Sound practice makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions

of opinion. News reports should be free from opinion or bias of any kind. This rule does not apply

to so-called special articles unmistakably devoted to advocacy or characterized by a signature authorizing

the writer’s own conclusions and interpretations.

6) FAIR PLAY-A newspaper should not publish unofficial charges affecting reputation or moral

character, without opportunity given to the accused to be heard; right practice demands the giving of

such opportunity in all cases of serious accusation outside judicial proceedings.

A. A newspaper should not invade rights of private

feelings without sure warrant of public rights

as distinguished from public curiosity.

B. It is the privilege, as it is the duty, of a newspaper

to make prompt and complete correction of

its own serious mistakes of fact or opinion, whatever

their origin.

7) DECENCY-A newspaper cannot escape conviction of insincerity if, while professing high moral

purpose, it supplies incentives to base conduct, such as are to be found in details of crime and vice, publication of which is not demonstrably for the public good. Lacking authority to enforce its canons, the

journalism here represented can but express the hope that deliberate pandering to vicious instincts

will encounter effective public disapproval or yield to the influence of a preponderant professional condemnation.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.