Draft: My Personal Ethics Guidelines

My personal ethics code will use Aristotle’s Golden Mean as the theoretical basis for developing my ethical standards as a journalist because of the emphasis on finding a middle ground between extremes and because it is not a “one-size fits all” approach. Professionally, and personally, there are several principles I will strive to uphold and use to guide my decision making. These standards come from a combination of my upbringing and background, as well as the values held by the Society of Professional Journalists and The New York Times.


I will aim to tell the true story with context and background. I will use a variety of sources and evaluate their credibility and the  value of information they can provide. Facts will be verified.


I will take personal responsibility for myself and my work, by striving for accuracy and correcting my mistakes. Objectivity is prized in journalism, but I feel it is not fully achievable. I will instead try to acknowledge my biases and diversify my sources.


I will act with integrity and aim to be honest, truthful and empathetic with my reporting and writing. I will hold myself accountable for my work and make independent judgements.


I will work to minimize harm by depicting subjects of stories, events and sources fairly and accurately. I will welcome the comments from other sides of an issue and tell the stories of people who are sometimes overlooked. I will evaluate sensitive information for its newsworthiness and not write anything, even if true, if it does not add value or is not essential to the story, that would damage my sources.

These core values are all related, and will help me to uphold my professional standards and make ethical decisions.

(I plan to do further research on Aristotle and use this to develop my core principles.)


One thought on “Draft: My Personal Ethics Guidelines

  1. Bill Mitchell says:

    Good start, Jess. Areas I hope you’ll develop in your final version: You mention your upbringing as an influence; explain how and why. You also mention that the core values you list are all related. How so, and what might that inter-relatedness render your guidelines more or less useful?


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