By Casey Bukro
Everyone is in favor of ethics, until you get into the details. That’s when the fights break out.
This is something the Online News Association is likely to learn as it makes its way through a project called the Build Your Own Ethics Code. Journalists are invited to crowdsource and document their ethical practices.
I have some personal experience in this realm. Back in 1972, I was national professional development committee chairman for Sigma Delta Chi, later named the Society of Professional Journalists.
The public, then as now, tended to have a low opinion of journalists. A public opinion poll in 1972 showed only 19 percent of the public had confidence in the press. Garbage collectors ranked higher.
Hoping to counteract that, delegates at the 1972 convention in Dallas adopted a resolution asking the group to do something about that low image of American journalists. That resolution was sent to my committee.
We decided to write a code of ethics reflecting SDX values and standards, acting on a constitutional mandate to inform the public as part of journalism’s role in a democracy. We wanted to show that journalists do have standards, and can act in an ethical manner.