Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists - Get advice on ethical practices in journalism.

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Typical Questions

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Below is a list of typical questions asked to the Ethics AdviceLine:

  • Is it ethical to make an appointment to interview an arsonist sought by police, without informing police in advance of the interview?
  • Is lack of proper attribution plagiarism?
  • Should an unpaid newspaper columnist run for public office?
  • Should a reporter write a story about a local priest who confessed to a sex crime if it will cost the newspaper readers and advertisers who are sympathetic to the priest?
  • Is a journalist compromised by wearing a patriotic symbol like an American flag, and are news managers justified in banning such symbols?
  • Should a newspaper editor forbid his staff from dating news sources?
  • Is it acceptable to publish a photo of friends grieving after an 18-year-old drowned after falling from a bridge during "horseplay?"
  • Is it appropriate to accept or reject an ad political in nature, since readers might think the newspaper is promoting the position taken in the ad?
  • Is it ethical for a reporter to write a news piece on the same topic on which he or she has written an opinion piece in the same paper?
  • Is it a conflict of interest for the publisher of a newspaper to be elected president of the local chamber of commerce?
  • Under what circumstances do you identify a person who was arrested as a relative of a public figure, such as a local sports star?
  • A newspaper offered free news stories about any company that bought the newspaper's advertising package. Is that ethical?
  • A reporter has a partisan political bumper sticker on his vehicle, which he uses while working. Is that ethical?
  • Freelance journalists and photographers accept cash to write about, or take photos of, events with the promise of attempting to get their work on the AP or other news outlets, from which they also will be paid. Is that ethical?
  • Can a journalist reveal a source of information after guaranteeing confidentiality if the source proves to be unreliable?
  • Is it ethical for a journalist to maintain a weblog for expressing personal opinions?
  • Is it ethical to eat free food provided for journalists while covering a story?
  • Editors are pressured by management to become involved in community service. Does this destroy the barrier between editorial and business operations?
  • An editor wants a reporter to turn over a list of telephone numbers for news contacts to the advertising department for fund-raising purposes. Is that ethical?

Ethics Dilemma? Please Submit Online or Call Toll Free 866-DILEMMA