Foreign Ethics

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By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists gets inquiries from journalists all over the world about ethics quandaries. Here’s one:

The caller is a writer for a motorcycling magazine in Spain, where he is based. He has an offer to join the World Superbike organization team as an international press officer, but its contract requires journalists to treat the championships “with respect.” Meaning no criticism.

This raises the point that journalism ethics norms are not the same in all countries. While pondering this, the writer got an invitation to join another motorcycle magazine at a higher salary, with no strings attached and with no obligations to be “respectful” of any organization.

He wanted to know if he should stay where he is employed or go to one of the other two, based in part on Spain’s more relaxed attitude toward journalism ethics.

What would you do? What advice would you give to that journalist? Sometimes journalists have an answer in mind when they call AdviceLine. But they call for a second opinion to test their judgment. It helps to discuss such problems with someone else, especially with ethics.

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The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

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