Is there a code of ethics for journalists?

Question: I would imagine that there is a creed for journalists and was wondering if you could either print it in the S-R for all to see or in your "Why We Do What We Do" link. I have a hunch there are a lot of other folks that wonder also so it may be a very welcome article. -- Robert A. Clouse, Spokane

Answer: There is no standard, profession-accepted code of ethics or conduct accepted by all newspapers. Many newspapers have internal codes or rules of conduct. Many others have commonly understood standards, but they do not put them in writing.

The most widely accepted code nationally, and the code most often taught in journalism schools, was developed by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). (See it here.) The SPJ code is posted in some newsrooms.

At The Spokesman-Review, we do have internal polices that are part of our employee handbook. The most significant sections deal with commitment to accuracy, avoidance of conflicts of interest and admonitions against plagiarism. Our internal policies and practices are similar to what you'll see in the SPJ code. -- Steve Smith, editor

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