Journalism Ethics

9 Questions  I  By Furnas
Don't let the fact that this is a quiz fool you -- ethics are not about being correct or incorrect -- they are about understanding beliefs and values. What we've assembled here are ethical dilemmas that high school journalists might face, with explanations about the generally accepted answers shared by some leaders in scholastic media education. But all of the scenarios here have gray areas, where your answer might change if you had more information, or if the situation were just slightly different. That is the most important aspect of journalism ethics. It's not enough to know right or wrong; it's more pertinent that you buy into the rationale journalists use when making tough decisions. So think long and hard before making a choice on each of these questions. Consider all of the "what if" variables that might change your answer. And never feel as though you have to make ethical decisions in a vacuum -- involve other members of your staff, as well as your teacher, when talking about ethics. That discussion is probably the most valuable way to develop your own ethical beliefs.

  
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Question Excerpt

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1.  You are preparing to do a restaurant review of a new establishment in town. You:
A.
B.
2.  You are a new member of your high school newspaper and have been instructed to clean up your Facebook profile to avoid the appearance of biases. One of the topics on your profile lists you as a catholic. You:
A.
B.
3.  You just finished an interview with a new source and then received an email saying that the source has tried to add you as a friend on Facebook. You:
A.
B.
4.  You are taking pictures of a rally near your high school with a large police presence. The protest turns violent, however, and protesters begin throwing rocks at police officers. One of the officers approaches you asking for your camera so that authorities can begin investigating who started the riot. You:
A.
B.
5.  A source tells you that she has pertinent information about an ongoing scandal at your school, but she wants to go “off the record” before she tells you details. You:
A.
B.
6.  After an interview with a representative from student council, your source starts panicking because he realizes that all student council communications are supposed to go through the organization's public relations liaison. You:
A.
B.
7.  An advertiser has approached your advertising staff about running an ad on the front page of the newspaper, and as the final authority on all content in the paper, the decision falls to you as editor-in-chief. You:
A.
B.
8.  You need a photograph of a senior you are profiling in the newspaper, and you notice that he has his professionally shot senior photographs posted on his Facebook page. You:
A.
B.
9.  While trying to transcribe the audio from an interview with a source, you accidentally erase your recording. You call your source to schedule another interview, but she says that she won't have time before your deadline and that you should, "Just use quotes from your memory." You indeed have a good memory of the interview, so you:
A.
B.
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