When we reflect on the history of news ethics, particularly during the early period that birthed yellow journalism, it’s clear our profession has come a long way. In fact, one might argue that journalism has matured into one of the most ethics-obsessed fields you could pursue, characterized by constant self-analysis and driven by a hunger for truth. Just this week The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson noticed that journalists seem to be becoming “more moral,” pointing out that today’s journalists are considerably less apt to condone the use of false identities or bribing sources for confidential information when compared with their 1992 counterparts, who were nearly four times as likely to justify either one. We can take heart in the fact that, as the world evolves, so does this profession we love. Of course, that observation only underscores how necessary it is to regularly revisit our code of ethics: each new advancement in technology and each societal step of progress invites new questions and considerations when it comes to how we cover subjects.
That’s why we’re only too pleased to partner with the Society of Professional Journalists this next week, as they revise their code of ethics in this emergent digital age. Consequently, we’ll devote our next #MuckedUp on May 13 to assisting SPJ in this task, and your feedback will be vital to this process. We’ll also welcome Kevin Smith, chairman of SPJ's Ethics Committee, as well as SPJ members Lynn Walsh of Scripps and Andrew Seaman of Reuters, who will be helping guide us in this discussion. Smith is the past national president of SPJ, while Walsh is an Emmy award-winning journalist who serves on Society of Professional Journalist’s FOI and Generation J committees, and Seaman is a medical journalist who is a member of SPJ's Ethics Committee and a former member of SPJ Board of Directors. So sometime before next #muckedup, please check out a first draft of the code's latest update here, and come to next Tuesday's tweetchat at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST armed with insights and suggestions!