Journalism Ethics and the Simple-Minded Nerd

Journalism Ethics and the Simple-Minded Nerd


I’m a news consumer, and just want news I can trust.

I’m supporting trustworthy journalism via efforts like and Wikipedia, but I’ve been fairly ignorant regarding related ethics, so …

Poynter Institute has great online courses regarding journalism ethics, and, I’ve just gotten through the three most related ones, starting with the basics.

I’ve learned that there are a lot of ethics questions way beyond my pay grade, like, should video footage be shown of the victims of terrorism or domestic crime?

That’s a really important question, one of many, but I’ve found I really am simple-minded, I’d just be happy if the reporting is done and followed through in good faith:

  • get the facts right
  • if the reported facts aren’t right, correct in a serious way

Given what I see, it feels necessary to repeat:

  • don’t make stuff up
  • fact check claims asserted by others
  • don’t interfere with actual ongoing criminal investigations
  • links and titles should accurately reflect content, and avoid any misrepresentation
  • don’t help politicians deceive the public

The last was best illustrated by Jon Stewart with “CNN Leaves it There.”

I’m struck by my simple-mindedness and focus on basics.

I’ll continue to focus on the simple stuff, and I will leave the hard questions to the professionals.

Note: special shout-out to folks who helped build the courses and related material:


One Comment

Cary Lewis

Our society has lost its moral compass. While I believe truth and reality in reporting is critical, we have to maintain our sense of respect for life. We should report on the reality of war, but respect the life and death of victims and their families by not publicizing their horror.

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